Volunteers work together to help clear invasive mangrove at Heeia fishpond

Volunteers work together to help clear invasive mangrove at Heeia fishpond
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The effort to restore a thriving and abundant He’eia fishpond has been ongoing for the last 20 years as 4,800 linear feet of fishpond wall has already been rebuilt. But over the last several months, anyone who has driven past the area has likely noticed the remarkable transformation that has taken place as workers and volunteers have cleared invasive mangrove.

“When you remove the invasive mangrove, native species come back -- native vegetation, native fish, and native birds. They have all returned as a result of the clearing of the mangrove. That’s how we know the restoration and clearing of mangrove is serving a positive benefit to the entire ecosystem,” said Hi’ilei Kawelo, executive director of Paepae O He’eia, a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for He’eia Fishpondm an ancient Hawaiian fishpond located in He’eia, Ko’olaupoko, Oahu.

Hawaii News Now Sunrise's Mileka Lincoln spoke with several individuals whose organizations are committed to restoring the fishpond, including: Kinohi Pizarro, the Restoration Technician/ Internship Coordinator for Paepae o He'eia; Nalani Kane, the Executive Director of Hui o Ko'olaupoko; Keli'i Kotubetey, the Assistant Executive Director of Paepae o He'eia; Fred Reppun, the Education Coordinator of the He'eia National Estuarine Research Reserve; and Kahiau Wallace the Education Director of Kako'o 'Oiwi.

Clearing the mangrove is hard work, and the organizations involved are always looking for volunteers. There are two upcoming community work days: Saturday, May 11 and Saturday, May 25. If you’d like to volunteer, you’re asked to email Admin@PaepaeOHeeia.org.

If you're unable to volunteer, but would still like to help in the restoration efforts, you're invited to come by Paepae o He'eia to take mangrove wood, which makes great firewood for cooking or 'imu and is also strong enough to build structures.

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