You can help protect Hawai‘i’s fragile ecosystem from invasive, non-native species by volunteering for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park's “Stewardship at the Summit” programs throughout 2014.
Stewardship at the Summit begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. The dates from January through March are: Jan. 10, 18, 20, and 24; Feb. 1, 7, 14, 21, and 28; and March 7, 14, 22, and 26.
To participate, meet project leaders Paul and Jane Field at Kīlauea Visitor Center at 9 a.m. on any of those dates. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, raingear, garden gloves, day pack, snacks and water. Tools will be provided.
No advance registration is required, and there is no cost to participate, but park entrance fees apply. There is no entrance fee on Mon., Jan. 20. The park honors Martin Luther King Day by participating in the National Day of Service with a special Stewardship at the Summit program, 9 a.m. to noon.
In the past year, park volunteers have restored more than five acres of native Hawaiian rainforest since re-invigorating the program, said volunteer Paul Field. Countless Himalayan ginger, faya, strawberry guava, and other invasive, non-native plants that threaten the native understory near the summit of Kīlauea volcano have been removed. In their place, once-shaded ‘ama‘u and hāpu‘u tree ferns have re-emerged, and pa‘iniu, kāwa‘u, and other vital, native plants are starting to return to these stewardship plots.
“There is no way we could be making these gains against the invasives without our community,” said Kūpono McDaniel, volunteer coordinator at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. “It is so fun to see everyone out there having a good time meeting new friends and making a very noticeable difference on the ground. These amazing philanthropists understand that time spent serving their public lands is a service to all."