Private volunteers and fishing club members were using their boats to assist in the salvinia cleanup of Lake Wilson yesterday. Regular Lake Wilson fisherman Miles Nakamura scooped salvinia along the shoreline.

Volunteers join
cleanup at lake

Lake Wilson is now 95 percent
cleared of the noxious salvinia

Nuuanu resident Kelton Tanji unloaded nets, rakes and a laundry basket attached to a bodyboard from his boat after he and his friend Wes Sawamura spent hours scooping up pieces of salvinia molesta along the edges of Lake Wilson in Wahiawa yesterday.

"It seems to be helping," said Tanji of the equipment supplied by the state to remove remnants of the noxious weed.

Tanji was one of 25 volunteers from the Hawaii Freshwater Fishing Association who used their own boats to pick up salvinia at the 300-acre lake yesterday.

Since Saturday, officials from the state Department of Land & Natural Resources picked up more than 150 plastic bags, each weighing between 25 and 40 pounds, of salvinia scooped up by volunteers.

The bags will be taken to a 30-acre Dole pineapple field on Wilikina Drive to be mulched and composted, according to Eric Hirano, chief of DLNR's engineering division.

Hirano and Randy Honebrink, education coordinator for the Aquatic Resources Division, said more still needs to be done to control the invasive weed at Lake Wilson.

Workers with the Aquatic Division will monitor the lake weekly and continue to spray herbicide along the edges every two to three weeks. Shoreline vegetation growing into the lake has been trimmed, making it easier for state workers and volunteers to remove the salvinia, Hirano said.

In about two months, 95 percent of the lake had been cleared of salvinia through a multiagency effort. And there has been no indication of a fish kill, said Honebrink. The lake is home to several species of bass and tilapia.

City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz assisted in the cleanup yesterday. In February, Dela Cruz and other lawmakers sought the help of the governor to tackle the weed that nearly covered the lake's surface. He stressed that a long-term maintenance plan is needed.

"The public definitely wants to be a part of the cleanup," he said.

Hirano confirmed that, saying, "We had quite a bit of phone calls" from individuals and organizations offering to help.

Hirano said they are still determining how many resources are needed to implement a long-term monitoring and maintenance plan.

Hirano said he hopes to open the Wahiawa State Freshwater Park by May and partially open Lake Wilson to boaters in June.

"They (fishermen) are just itching to get back out there," he said. The state also plans to post a sign near the boat ramp asking fishermen to remove any salvinia molesta while they fish.

Tanji, who had fished at the lake weekly for the past 20 years, said he is anxious to return to the lake to fish for bass.

"I would like it to have it open sooner," he said.


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