Sunday, March 23, 2003

Volunteer Tim Scalzone, left, used a rope yesterday to help maneuver small boats used to remove Salvinia molesta and other noxious weeds from Kawainui Marsh.

Volunteers give Kailua
marsh a new look

By Diana Leone

After four hours of work yesterday by more than 200 volunteers, the view from Kailua's Kapaa Quarry Road isn't what it used to be.

It's so much better that some of the people involved in the community cleanup of trash, overgrowth and invasive waterweeds are talking about renaming the road "Kawainui Marsh View Drive," said participant Dave Shope.

The clean-up resulted in a clear view of Kawainui Marsh from the road near Kalaheo High School, an area that had been choked with haole koa, Java plum and other undesirable trees.

Ditches along the road and the marsh's edges were cleared of Salvinia molesta, water hyacinth and water lettuce -- unwanted plants that take up space that could be better used by native plants and birds.

Workers used buckets and nets to harvest the weedy growth, piling enough of it for five dump truck-loads. The organic material will later be used as compost.

"I got some muscles," said Sarah Cook, flexing her arm after several hours of slinging waterweeds with a swimming pool dip net.

Cook, a Navy storekeeper stationed at Pearl Harbor since January, said she'd never been to the marsh before, but was glad to help.

Salvinia molesta is the plant that overtook Lake Wilson, triggering a massive cleanup effort that's estimated to cost more than $1 million.

Kailua residents vowed they would attack their salvinia problem before it reached such proportions.

The cleanup effort, perhaps the largest ever for the marsh, involved participants from the Kailua Neighborhood Board, corporate neighbors Ameron Hawaii and All Pool & Spa, the Windward Ahupuaa Alliance and military and civilian volunteers from throughout Oahu, said Sen. Bob Hogue (R-Kaneohe-Kailua), who helped organize the event.

"What impresses me is all the young adults who are here -- from Punahou, Le Jardin, Castle, Iolani" and other schools, said All Pool & Spa President John King, who volunteered along with eight of his workers and provided equipment.

"If they're out here doing this, they'll never be dumping here," King said, referring to the area's reputation for illegal dumping.

Also working yesterday were longtime marsh proponents from the Kawai Nui Heritage Foundation and Ahahui Malama i ka Lokahi, who focused efforts on brush trimming and native plant weeding at the Na Pohaku O Nauwahine overlook of the marsh.

The more people who help to improve the marsh and learn about its history, the better, said Ahuhui Malama I Ka Lokahi President Chuck "Doc" Burrows.

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