Pearl Harbor Sailors Support Wildlife Sanctuary
Story Number: NNS100127-09
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Eric J. Cutright, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii
WAIPAHU, Hawaii (NNS) -- Naval Station Pearl Harbor (NSPH) Junior Sailor Association (JSA) members met with volunteers at the Pouhala Marsh Jan. 23 to help eliminate invasive weeds such as pickleweed and mangrove from the area.
Puohala Marsh is the largest of the wetland habitats in the Pearl Harbor area and is also home to two rare species of birds, the Hawaiian black-necked Stilt and the Hawaiian Coot.
"What we're trying to do is remove the invasive vegetation and replace it with native plants to produce a better habitat for the birds," said Ati Jeffers-Fabro, wetlands coordinator for Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources/Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The 10 Sailors who volunteered their off-duty time didn't hesitate to get their hands dirty as they walked through knee-deep mud and water in their efforts to remove the foreign plants.
"This sort of volunteer work is good because it shows that the Navy cares about the community and the area it inhabits," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Timothy Niitani, assigned to NSPH.
The 70-acre marsh was once a dumping ground until recent years when a land-lease agreement between the city and county of Honolulu and the state of Hawaii allowed the state to manage the entire area as a wildlife sanctuary.
"It's a great chance for us to see what's on the shore, see the nature and be able to help out the local wildlife," said Master-at-Arms 2nd Class (SCW) Vincent Ingellis, assigned to NSPH.
The Sailors' volunteer efforts, along with their civilian counterparts, were part of the Pouhala Marsh Ecosystem Restoration Project in coordination with the Hawaii Nature Center, a non-profit organization which provides hands-on education for families and adults.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrh/.