OMKM community volunteers helped pull invasive weeds and planted a hundred Mauna Kea silversword this past weekend.
Organized by OMKM Natural Resources Program Manager Fritz Klasner, this ongoing effort of restoring native habitat is focused around the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station on Mauna Kea at the 9,500 foot elevation.
"Planting silversword keiki will help ensure the species existence on Mauna Kea for future generations. This was made possible by a record number of volunteers this past Saturday who came out to help take care of the mountain," said OMKM Natural Resources Program Manager Fritz Klasner. "We started these invasive weed pull events at the 9,500 foot elevation last year and we've since logged over 1,500 volunteer hours. This past Saturday was our first replanting of native habitat."
The State of Hawaii, Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) made the seedlings available to plant, provided planting instructions, and obtained needed permits. The keiki silverswords were planted in the Division's Silversword Enclosure near the Visitor Information Station.
The Mauna Kea silversword is a member of the silversword alliance, a group of endemic Hawaiian plants that scientists believe all evolved from a single plant species which originated in North America several million years ago.
MaunaKea silversword grown naturally in the wild can live for over fifty years. The nearly 100 silversword planted on Saturday were grown in a DOFAW nursery. Once they establish a firm root system, which should take about a year, each plant is expected to live on Mauna Kea anywhere from thirty to fifty years.
The community volunteers began the day preparing planting locations, pulled invasive fireweed in the Silversword Enclosure, and then planted each silversword with a bit of love.
OMKM anticipates having additional silversword planting days in the near future. Watch for volunteer announcements in this newsletter.