OHE September 19, 1998

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 21:19:52 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kaala Blackberry Eradication, 19SEP98

Hi, all!

I thought this may be of interest...

Having always been curious about Oahu's highest peak, but intimidated by the DuPont Trail, I decided to volunteer for the Sierra Club's joint venture with the DLNR/DFW-NARS. The ongoing project, which occurs twice a month, brings a group of 10 or so volunteers to the top by way of the government access road.

After meeting at Waialua High School, it was a 20 minute trip by way of a 4WD truck provided by the state. The bumpiest part of the journey is through the ex-croplands of Waialua Sugar and lower pasture lands of the Kaala Ranch. But after passing the second locked gate, the road becomes "government": smoothly-paved, fully-maintained. And because it's so narrow, there's a time schedule posted regarding "downward" versus "upward" traffic flow. Each "window" usually lasts an hour.

Anyway, as some of you may know, Mt. Kaala typifies a shallow crater, one produced by a volcanic cone. The impacted "cap" resists water seepage and thus creates a bog. It is absolutely amazing how many native plant species exist and thrive in this bog! Printed guides state there are 61 endemic plant species which can be found on the short boardwalk. And, of course, they are all threatened by the onward advance of the blackberry scurge.

The project, pretty much, is cut and dry.... well, actually, more like cut & poison. You snip the blackberry stalk close to the root, then you drip a plant hormone onto the "stump". You snip... you drip... You snip... you drip... and occasionally you hollar when the blackberry thorns find a juicy exposed spot between your long-sleeved shirt and gloves.

It almost seems futile since as you stare into the valleys below, you can see hordes of blackberry bushes and their white blossoms completely carpeting the native plant-life.. I guess the idea is to clear the area in the direct vicinity of the reserve to protect the bog within.

Ironically, I didn't have a single blackberry to munch (though lots of stalks to snip). I did have a few ohelo berries pointed out by UH Botany major who was with us.

The site we were at showed signs of heavy eradication by past efforts. Dried-up blackberry stalks were fallen and piled knee-high. Nevertheless, new shoots had appeared from the cut stumps as testament to the weed's resiliency despite the poison. Hopefully, by recutting these stumps even deeper can the treatment take effect.

Anyway, the views, as can be expected, are awesome... and the botanical bounty of the area is equally matched. I hope the bog won't suffer the scurge of the blackberry!


Reply from: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>

Hi, all!

I was asked about how to join up with the blackberry eradication and I figured this would be of interest to some of you out there...

E-mail me if there any questions.

Getting up to Mt. Kaala requires a trail, such as the Waianae Kai or DuPont Trail, both of which are tough hikes. The faster and painless alternative to this is 4WD vehicular transportation via the Mt. Kaala Access Road. However, this road is a government-controlled thoroughfare and I don't believe they allow anyone but USAF, HI-ANG, and DLNR (DFW-NARS) personnel up there. The exception to this is the joint venture project of the DLNR and Sierra Club.

To volunteer, what you'll need to do is sign up with the Sierra Club's coordinator. Only 10, or so, volunteers are allowed to go up per outing and there are approximately two outings per month. There is, of course, a waiting list and one can expect between a three to six week wait depending on your luck. Anyway, the DLNR is the organization which brings the volunteers to the top by means of their truck.

The Sierra Club requires you to send them a letter/postcard to get listed. I don't have the address, but if you're interested, reply to this and I will e-mail the address to you when I get home tonight.

Hope this helps! I'll let you know if/when I go again, which (because of the waiting list) won't be for several weeks.

Greg =o)

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