Snow capped Mauna Kea from Mauna Kea State Park seed collection spot
Last Saturday, my husband and I were volunteers for a seed gathering event at Mauna Kea State Park. As members of E Mau Na Ala Hele, a community-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization devoted to preserving and perpetuating the historic trails of Hawaii, and the protection of historic and natural areas adjacent to the trails, we were invited to assist the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project (MKFR) with this worthy project.
The purpose of this effort is to restore a 2,000 acre section of native dry-land forest that burned through the mamane-naio forest adjacent to Mauna Kea State Park in August 2010. Most of the burn area is designated as critical habitat for the federally endangered Palila. The wildfire was so intense that much of the vegetation disintegrated, and dirt is the only thing present across much of the landscape. Without the forest that anchored the soil, the top soil now blows away whenever it gets windy.
To reduce erosion and jump-start reforestation efforts, we collected seeds from the aweoweo shrub. Aweoweo seeds typically have high germination rates, and once established it is a fast growing shrub. These shrubs will in-turn provide shelter for mamane and naio tree species to recover in the future.
Our group of about 25 volunteers put the tiny little seeds into zip-lock bags from the branches of bushes near the end of their life-span. The collected seeds will be scattered at a later date, probably in the March/April time-frame when conditions will be ideal for the seeds to take hold in the soil. We’ll be watching for that opportunity to participate again.
The day filled us with great satisfaction. We are blessed to be able to help in the process of healing the aina (Hawaiian for land). Another way of giving back.
Not to mention, that this particular day was so spectacular as a result of the snowfall that blanketed the mountain tops the night before. From Mauna Kea State Park, which is about 6,500′ in elevation, we could see the tops of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai. Hualalai was the only peak not snow covered, as it isn’t tall enough for the snowfall.
We were truly blessed with a clear brisk day. Just another reason why we enjoy our Hawaii Life so much!
Contact me for more details about this volunteer program. Or perhaps you are ready to make the move to the Big Island…isn’t it time for you to live your best Hawaii Life?