Airmen preserve wetlands on Hickam Beach

Airman 1st Class Justine Boone, from Atlanta, Georgia, pulls the invasive plant pickleweed out from the wetlands at Ahua Reef.

Airman 1st Class Justine Boone, from Atlanta, Georgia, pulls the invasive plant pickleweed out from the wetlands at Ahua Reef.

Story and photo by Ensign Britney Duesler

Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

More than 20 members of the 37th and 324th Intelligence Squadrons along with field biologists from the Naval Facilities EV2 removed invasive species from the beach at Ahua Reef on the Hickam side of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) as part of the wetlands restoration project, Jan 28.

The event was coordinated by Rebecca Smith, the Natural Resource manager for JBPHH. Smith organizes beach cleanups approximately once a month as part of an ongoing effort to restore the coastal wetlands.

The wetlands are home to shore birds like the black crowned night heron, ruddyturnstones, tattler and sanderlings. They are also home to the endangered Hawaiian stilt and endangered Hawaiian duck. Preservation of the wetlands provides an environment in which these birds can nest and repopulate.

“Our goal is to enhance the habitat for endangered water birds by removing non-native invasive plants such as pickleweed and mangrove,” Smith said. “We do three types of clean ups: pulling invasive [plants], planting native species, and rubbish clean up.”

The volunteers were taught the difference between native Hawaiian plants and the invasive species, and spent the majority of Saturday morning pulling out growth and disposing of the green waste.

Airman 1st Class Andrew Vongphachamh, from Holland, Michigan, was one of the volunteers at the event, which was part of a long term restoration effort that Smith hopes will eventually become the beginnings of a nature trail.

“This is a great opportunity to give back to the environment and the community. We can keep Hawaii clean,” Vongphachamh said.

Those interested in helping preserve the wetlands on base can contact the Natural Resource Department at 474-0125, or reach out to JBPHH field biologist Corrina Carnes at corrina.carnes. ctr@navy.mil.

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Category: News