Hāmākua Marsh and Pu'u o Ehu Hillside
Healthy Climate Communities works in collaboration with Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) , local schools and other community groups to restore the watershed for Hāmākua Marsh, called Pu'u o Ehu Hillside. Since 2015 we planted thousands of native plants, including the endangered ko'oloa'ula (Abutilon menziesii) and the endangered mao hau hele (Hibiscus brackenridgei). Caring for native plants is a tough job made possible by installing drip irrigation, using ground cover and the hands of many volunteers.
Hāmākua Marsh and the adjacent Kawainui Marsh make up the largest remaining wetland habitat in the State. It is a wildlife sanctuary owned by DLNR and home to four species of endemic and endangered waterbirds.
The area has a rich cultural and geographical history. The area supported a large native Hawaiian population who managed the resource for both inland fishponds and wetland taro production.
Hāmākua Marsh used to be a stream flowing from Kawainui Marsh to Kaʻelepulu Marsh (now Enchanted Lake) but the water flow has been diverted. The Marsh now depends fully on rainfall on the hillside rising up from the Marsh, as well as run off from parts of Kailua town.
Hāmākua Marsh provides a site to learn about and develop habits that enhance the planet's capacity to sequester and store carbon. Although wetlands account for only about 3% of the earths land surface, they store around one third of all soil carbon. Protecting them keeps that carbon in the ground. Additionally, the native trees and shrubs planted will sequester and store carbon over time.
HISTORY OF NATIVE COMMUNITY FOREST
The project started in 2015 with Executive Director Lisa Marten and her friends planting and taking turns caring for the first 9 seedlings with DLNR biologist Katie Doyle. It evolved with trial and error into a school-based program supported by community groups.