Restoration Ecology in Hawaii

When it rains, we plant!
by -- March 20th, 2013

On our last day as a group in Kaua’i, we got up bright and early to head to Kōke’e State Park, in the southwest corner of Kaua’i. Although it was not a spectacularly sunny day, the sun was peeking out through the clouds and it was relatively warm as we made our way along Kaumuaii Highway. Once we began to climb in elevation, however, the sun disappeared and the fog came into view. We were making our way up into Waimea Canyon State Park, and our hopes for canyon views were dashed as a blanket of gray covered the landscape.

Once we made it into Kōke’e, the rain began to fall and the chill in the air was an unanticipated change from the pleasant weather we had experienced all week. Everyone in the group bundled up as we were introduced to Chris and the rest of the Kaua’i Natural Area Reserves team. It was apparent that the weather wasn’t going to make the trek down the Nu’alolo trail to the exclosure easy for us; however, the native vegetation we were about to plant loved the rain. Because the weather in Kaua’i had been relatively dry recently, and because of a summer fire problem in 2012, this was the first planting at the reserve all year.

When we arrived at the 1-acre exclosure, we were able to get our hands dirty and began planting. The one thing I can appreciate about this type of work is the fact that you are supposed to get your hands dirty. Our entire group was definitively not afraid of getting dirty, as we had been busy doing that earlier in the week at Limahuli Gardens and Waipa. Something about the weather and the mud, however, made the work feel more real, dirty and honestly, more rewarding.

Kristen and George planting native vegetation near the border of the exclosure

Even though our group was made of transient visitors, and we understood that restoration on Kaua’i was still a game of trial and error, we were happy to be a part of the process; the restoration of a native Hawaiian forest. Everyone was eager to help and were motivated by the hopes that one day we could come back to this place and see these forest reserves not only expanding, but thriving.

On our way back after visiting Koke’e, the fog had lifted, the sun was making it’s way out, and we were treated to a breathtaking view of Waimea Canyon; a sign, at least in my opinion, that getting grubby in the dirt pays off in the end.

Our view of Waimea Canyon after our morning at the state park

1 Comment

  1. Tawnee
    Mar 20, 2013

    I am of the belief that there are few things more satisfying than digging in the dirt for a good cause. Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures – looks like it was an awesome trip!

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