About 20 volunteers braved the cold on Maunakea on Saturday, February 8, to pull invasive weeds and protect native plants. The community event, organized by the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM), targets invasives that threaten native species at Hale Pōhaku at the mid-level section of the mountain.
“Well I just learned what a māmane looks like. So that was cool! I saved a couple, yay,” said volunteer Genevieve Runningwind.
The yellow flowering trees are endemic to Hawaiʻi. Volunteers placed rocks around the saplings and tied pink ribbons to prevent people from stepping on them. The event is part of the Mālama Maunakea campaign that focuses on protecting the area.
Ants are among OMKM’s list of invasives its working to keep off the mountain. According to Environment and Natural Resource Program Manager Fritz Klasner, the tiny insects aren’t found naturally on Maunakea. “ By helping detect ants early we can respond and prevent ants from spreading into an area that so far the university has been able to keep ants out of,” Klasner said.
Volunteers spent hours digging up fireweed, a highly invasive plant found near Hale Pōhaku. The pesky weeds’ seeds easily disperse in the wind, and can latch on to hiking boots and vehicles. At the end of the day, volunteers managed to fill more than 43 trash bags.
Rich Matsuda has worked at the W.M. Keck Observatory for the past 25 years and hikes regularly on Maunakea. “I just really enjoy this very special place, and it’s about time we pitch in and help mālama,” Matsuda said.
OMKM has hosted nearly five-dozen weed pulls since 2012. Since then, approximately 300 native plants have been planted.