By U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs Office May 4, 2012
KAENA POINT, Hawaii -- More than 50 Soldiers and community volunteers came together for a joint Earth Day restoration project, here, April 28.
Soldiers from Schofield Barracks' 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, and other Army units rolled up their sleeves and rolled hundreds of rocks and small boulders into place to mark designated roads at the 59-acre reserve and state park.
"The No. 1 priority for the day was to delineate the roads, so people can stay on the appropriate paths," said Dan Quinn, state parks administrator, Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources. "The hardest area to manage is Section A, and that's what we are working today."
The restoration day was a joint effort between U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and DLNR staff to clean up and combat irresponsible recreational activities, such as off-roading and illegal bonfires. Unfortunately, years of these irresponsible activities have contributed to the deterioration of Kaena Point and threatened the natural and cultural resources at the park.
"Every little bit helps," said Marigold Zoll, acting manager, Native Ecosystem and Protection Management, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, DLNR, as she spray painted an orange line in the sand on a stretch of path along the shore.
The orange line marked the "spot" for volunteers to place rocks, forming boundaries for approved roads. Soldiers dotted the landscape from mauka to makai, or from the mountains to the ocean, in search of boulders that would be difficult to move by others, once placed. Two- and four-man teams tested their strength as they lifted and rolled rocks into place.
The group also picked up trash and debris along the three-mile stretch of shoreline and sifted through sand and ashes with magnetic sweepers to remove what remained from dozens of illegal bonfires -- mainly hundreds of rusted nails.
"This is part of the process; it's going to take everyone's time and effort to change mindsets and habits," Quinn said, referring to the damaging effects of irresponsible use.
The Army is supporting that process by raising awareness of environmental issues at Kaena and encouraging responsible recreation activities through an educational video. The six-minute video is shown to all incoming Soldiers and family members at a weekly newcomers' briefing given by Annelle Amaral, Native Hawaiian liaison, USAG-HI.
"We (Soldiers) see the movie about Kaena Point at the briefing, but when you come out here and see Kaena firsthand, it really hits home," said Capt. Michael Taylor, 225th BSB, 2nd BCT.
Taylor, along with many of the Soldiers from the brigade, has never been to Kaena Point. Creating a road with rocks may be a first to him and the others, but community service is not.
Taylor said the brigade doesn't wait for Earth Day to begin giving back. The Soldiers assist with the Koolau wetland restoration, volunteer at stream cleanups and partner with a Leeward Coast high school.
"We came out today because we're trying to hit all sides of the island," he added.
As Earth Month comes to an end, this special effort between the U.S. Army and DLNR emphasizes how vital joint efforts are when caring for the aina, or land, according to Amaral.
"I'm pleased this was a true success," Amaral said. "Restoration of Kaena Point is going to take an all-of-us effort; it's a 'kakou' thing."
Located at the island's northwest tip, Kaena Point is home to nesting seabirds, monk seals and other native coastal species. It's also a popular location for fishing, hiking, bicycling, and other educational and recreational activities.