• Matt Keir, Rare Plant Specialist, repels down a cliff face to collect seeds from an endangered plant. Desperate measures are often required to save Hawaii's rarest species. Without the Army's efforts, these plants would become extinct.

    Repelling to collect endangered plant seeds.

    Matt Keir, Rare Plant Specialist, repels down a cliff face to collect seeds from an endangered plant. Desperate measures are often required to save Hawaii's rarest species. Without the Army's efforts, these plants would become extinct.

  • Cyanea superba, once extinct in the wild, has been saved by the Oahu Natural Resource Team. There are now more than 500 plants in the wild in three populations due to the team's efforts. Most recently, the Oahu NRT discovered seedlings in the field, a true testament to the success of their efforts.

    Once extinct tree - Cyanea Superba.

    Cyanea superba, once extinct in the wild, has been saved by the Oahu Natural Resource Team. There are now more than 500 plants in the wild in three populations due to the team's efforts. Most recently, the Oahu NRT discovered seedlings in the field, a...

  • Natural Resource Program Manager, Michelle Mansker, stands behind a mist net with a male and female endangered Oahu Elepaio awaiting banding. This insectivorous endangered bird requires the diverse forests that the Oahu Natural Resource Team is restoring. This year, the team banded 70 birds, 16 percent of the total birds on the island of Oahu.

    Banding endangered species - Oahu Elepaio

    Natural Resource Program Manager, Michelle Mansker, stands behind a mist net with a male and female endangered Oahu Elepaio awaiting banding. This insectivorous endangered bird requires the diverse forests that the Oahu Natural Resource Team is...

  • Pictured here is one of three greenhouses on Oahu used by the Natural Resource Team. Oahu NRT members grow common and endangered plants here for reintroduction and reforestation efforts. In the past two years the team has planted more than 8,500 plants.

    Greenhouse used to grown endangered plants

    Pictured here is one of three greenhouses on Oahu used by the Natural Resource Team. Oahu NRT members grow common and endangered plants here for reintroduction and reforestation efforts. In the past two years the team has planted more than 8,500 plants.

  • Kim Welch, Outreach Specialist, demonstrates to youth generation "how an island forms." The Oahu Natural Resource Team leveraged 11,000 hours and $250,000 in savings through outreach activities. The team has also assisted with four separate Eagle Scout projects.

    Demonstration to youth

    Kim Welch, Outreach Specialist, demonstrates to youth generation "how an island forms." The Oahu Natural Resource Team leveraged 11,000 hours and $250,000 in savings through outreach activities. The team has also assisted with four separate Eagle Scout...

  • This endemic palm tree, Pritchardia kaalae, is limited to a single valley on the island of Oahu. Through their efforts, the Oahu Natural Resource Team has helped ensure this palm tree's long-term survival by removing the threat of rat predation. Their management has increased the number of palms from 165 to over 1,100.

    Endemic palm tree - Pritchardia kaalae

    This endemic palm tree, Pritchardia kaalae, is limited to a single valley on the island of Oahu. Through their efforts, the Oahu Natural Resource Team has helped ensure this palm tree's long-term survival by removing the threat of rat predation. Their...

Change is a fact of life for the U.S. Army. Budget constraints, ongoing conflicts and the environmental challenge of protecting threatened and endangered plants and animals all jeopardize Soldiers' training opportunities. But on Oahu, even when confronted with those budget challenges, balancing and maintaining training with the island's natural beauty proved to be no match for the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii's Natural Resources Team members.
Their hard work and resulting success recently earned the Schofield Barracks-based natural resource program one of the Army's most prestigious honors.

"Recognition by the secretary of the Army as having one of the finest natural resource programs in the Army is a public testament to the commitment, professionalism and dedication of the Natural Resource staff of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii," said Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii. "Their work allows the Army to continue to train here and prepare for any contingency our nation requires of its Soldiers."

Engaging both internal and external partners was paramount to the Army's continuing to train and prepare for a variety of missions in Oahu, according to Michelle L. Mansker, NRT chief, Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works.

Whether leading volunteers on a tour of facilities, monitoring the health of an endangered plant in a remote native forest of the Waianae Mountains or rappelling down Ohikilolo Ridge to check the endangered cliff-dwelling plants of Makua Valley, the staff did what was needed to preserve Hawaii's beautiful resources.

"This Natural Resource Program and our team could not have achieved success on their own," said Mansker. "It was imperative that we all work together with other land managers to conserve Hawaii's unique resources and species, because they are so rare and restricted in range."

With an annual budget of about $6 million, the Oahu NRT manages more than 60 federally listed species that inhabit more than 50,000 acres. That land includes six Army training ranges and enables roughly 20,000 Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine, National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, and law enforcement employees to conduct mission-critical training.

The NRT staff is on the go to ensure survival of unique Oahu species. Fifty-one native plants, seven kahuli tree snails, the Oahu elepaio bird, the Hawaiian hoary bat, two picture wing flies and one damselfly keep support staff, a fence crew, three resource management crews, and a nursery and seed bank management crew busy.

What began as a small staff in 1995 has grown to more than 50 with 90 percent of the staff in the field daily. They work with rare and endangered species in remote areas across the Waianae and Koolau mountain ranges. The team also uses volunteers recruited through outreach programs.

"We have a very active volunteer service program led by two professional outreach coordinators," said Mansker. "Over the past two years, the team has leveraged more than 11,000 volunteer hours during more than 100 service trips to the field."

Major team accomplishments during that time include collection of 5,800 endangered plants for genetic storage, the out-planting and reintroduction of 8,500 endangered plants to their native habitat and the fencing of more than 1,200 acres of endangered species habitat to stop its destruction by wild goats and pigs.

"We've come so far in conserving natural resources here on Oahu, and the great strides made are largely due to the staff's combined knowledge and skills in resource management along with their shared passion for protecting Hawaii's endangered species," said Kapua Kawelo, an NRT biologist.

Page last updated Fri June 1st, 2012 at 00:00