Garden shows visitors a slice of the island Oahu
May 1, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Did you know that one of the Waianae Mountain ridges was named after "crazy crabs" or that some of the plants near the North Shore's Kaena Point have hair-covered leaves to protect them from the sun's rays'
These are just a few of the interesting tidbits guests learned while touring the Oahu Army Natural Resource Program's (OANRP) new interpretive garden.
OANRP showcased the garden as part of an Earth Day celebration, April 23, dedicating the program's new base yard and facilities, while thanking public and private partners and volunteers in the conservation effort.
About five years ago, the OANRP staff started outgrowing its facility and began looking for a new home, which the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security was kind enough to give to them.
"We had probably 35 people squeezed into three rooms, so it was a little crowded," said Kapua Kawelo, OANRP biologist.
The new base yard, which is located near Range Control and Area X on Schofield Barracks, gives the staff more room to grow, literally.
"We needed a better greenhouse, and this site provided us an opportunity to develop an interpretive garden where we could bring off-islanders or just general visitors ... who don't actually get an opportunity to get up into the forest and work with us and see those plants in the wild," Kawelo said.
OANRP's interpretive garden is loosely modeled off the interpretive garden at Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, with the exception that the Oahu garden attempts to showcase plants living in five very different types of habitats.
The five habitats represent about two-thirds of the types of habitats that OANRP staff works with on Army training lands and areas where they partner with other land owners.
"Kaena" represents the coastal dry shrubland, "Lower Ohikilolo" the lowland dry shrublands, "Kaluakauila" the lowland dry forest, "Kahanahaiki" the lowland mesic forest, and "Ohikilolo Cliff" the dry cliff, mesic shrubland and mesic forest.
As visitors walk from one moku, or section, to the next, interpretive signs point out habitat characteristics, native plants and animals, and even some of the cultural history of the locations represented. For example, at the Ohikilolo Cliff moku, visitors learn about the role some plants play in hula.
General visitors can access the garden, which is located at 413 Oahu Street, for self-guided tours, Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Larger groups should contact the OANRP staff at 808-656-7641, to give the staff advance notice.