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Person planting silversword

In May, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship (CMS) and the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) continued work to restore the endangered silversword, and community volunteers helped to remove invasive plant species from Maunakea.

Silversword outplanting

More than 92 silverswords were outplanted into an enclosure in a new location on Maunakea to help increase genetic diversity by introducing four new parental lineages. This is in hopes to help create a more robust silversword that can adapt to the different types of microclimates found on Maunakea. The plants had spent more than a year in the greenhouse acclimating and growing stronger.

In early 2022, efforts to re-establish the highly endangered silversword on Maunakea started sprouting through a partnership between CMS and the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Silversword seeds were sown at the CMS greenhouse at the Halepōhaku mid-level facility and sprouted into more than 100 seedlings under the care of CMS staff.

“Partnerships like the one we have with Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife grow into successful examples of working together. I’m so proud of our team for the growing success we are having with silversword and other native species,” said CMS Resource Manager Justin Yeh. “We want to be a hub for habitat restoration, culture, education and astronomy on Maunakea.”

To date, CMS has also planted more than 628 native plants near Halepōhaku. There are ongoing plans to continue planting as the keiki native plants growing in the greenhouse continue to mature.

Learn more about the ongoing stewardship work on Maunakea.

Community volunteers continue to Mālama Maunakea

Volunteers on a hill pulling weeds

The second Mālama Maunakea Volunteer Weed Pull in 2023 removed about 2,100 pounds of invasive weeds in early May. Sixteen community volunteers targeted mostly invasive grasses like ripgut and needlegrass in an overgrown planted area on Maunakea at the 9,000 ft elevation with the goal of creating bare ground for native plants to establish themselves in the area.

The Mālama Maunakea Volunteer Weed Pulls are part of ongoing efforts by CMS to protect the resources on the mountain by helping to control fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) and other invasive plant species. Eradicating invasive species and weeds helps to reduce habitat for invasive ants, prevents unwanted invasive species from being transported to the upper elevation areas of Maunakea, and prepares the surrounding area for native plant replanting projects.

Mālama Maunakea volunteer weed pull by the numbers

The May 2023 volunteer work added to the impressive running total:

  • 63 total Volunteer Weed Pulls
  • 1,600 community volunteers
  • More than 10,000 volunteer hours equalling 416.6 days
  • More than 2,600 reusable garbage bags of weeds pulled

Learn more about the ongoing stewardship work on Maunakea.

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