For one week in July, 12 KUPU Youth Conservation Corps interns and staff participated in diverse hands-on, place-based mentorship opportunities through ATA’s second annual Ridge-to-Reef eco summer program. The young adults’ experiences took them 1,800 feet above sea level to the Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail summit, down to the shores of Maunalua Bay. In between on the forest trail, the enthusiastic environmental stewards cleared restoration sites, remediated trail shortcuts to curb erosion, planted close to 80 native trees and shrubs, and built natural barriers.
The activities wrapped around five days of watershed management themes, including wai, kipuka, ahupua`a, biocontrol, and sustainability. A visit to the Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center brought to life the concept of ahupua`a (ancient Hawaiian land division) and the interconnectedness of taking care of the lands, from mauka to makai. Executive Director Chris Cramer shared mo‘olelo about the Kuli’ou’ou ahupua`a and its history, and the need to protecT water resources that flow from the mountains downstream to the people, plants, and animals that depend on them.
Mahalo to veteran Earth Stewards, Chris Cramer, and guest speakers Sierra Club veteran Randy Ching, and Lyon Arboretum scientist Tim Kroessig for their time and wisdom shared with KUPU. Tim captivated his listeners’ interest with a guava biocontrol demonstration. After having cleared stands of invasive guava from kipuka sites all week, the interns learned the importance of having a multi-pronged approach to eradicate guava trees which remain a threat to Hawaii’s native forests. “Of all the organizations I’ve worked with, ATA taught me the most about the research and methods behind environmental restoration techniques, and gave me the most insight into my future in environmental science,” said KUPU member Cali Mavri.
“I got to apply my knowledge in memorable and rewarding ways. Best of all, I feel hopeful and energized about my future.”