A native forest needs a hand

HONOLULU (KHNL) - National Public Lands Day is on September 27, a day when all across the country volunteers will be engaged in building trails, planting trees, removing trash and invasive plants in an effort to improve and enhance the land's natural environment.On Oahu volunteers are being recruited to a restoration site on Kahanahaiki Ridge between Kahanahaiki Valley and Makua Valley.

"Kahanahaiki contains one of the last remnants of native mesic forest on Oahu, which is one of the most imperiled forest community types in the Hawaiian Islands," said Kimberly Welch, from the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program.

The goal is to remove invasive weeds and reintroduce palapalai ferns to the area.

Known to grow 4-5 feet tall, the palapalai fern was used by Native Hawaiians to decorate the alters of Laka, the goddess of hula. Today the ferns are commonly used in lei making.

During the hike to and from the restoration site, staff will provide natural, cultural and historical insights about the area, highlighting the endangered plants and animals found in the area.

"This is in large part due to deforestation, degradation from introduced wild pigs and goats, and spread of invasive weed species," Welch added.  "The work our volunteers will be doing on National Public Lands Day is a great step toward preserving our environment."

Volunteers interested in participating can contact Kimberly Welch at 808-656-7641