Scouts Protect Endangered Plants and Birds

Boy Scout Troop 56 gather around the endangered aha plants in the greenhouse in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

Thomas Adams

Boy Scout Troop 56 gather around the endangered aha plants in the greenhouse in the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge.

Josiah Adams, Reporter

Every year a handful of boy scouts who attend Kohala High School travel 6,000 ft up the windward slope of Mauna Kea to work on the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Reserve with Baron Horiuchi. The objective?  To protect, and cultivate some of the world’s rarest plant and bird species.  Whether it be Nene (goose) herding, potting koa seedlings, or transferring endangered plants, the work on Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Reserve never ends.  The reserve spans over 32,733 acres of cold and rugged land, and the goal is to fill it with Native Hawaiian plants and birds.

This year the scouts planted native Olapa plants, and a couple hundred endangered Aha seedlings.  Some mixed and filled pots with soil while others transferred plants and wrote tags.  After all of the hard work, each scout was able to tag and plant a personal Koa tree near the Nene nesting area.

Although it’s not uncommon to see wandering Nene patrolling the reserve, there was a delightful surprise in the form of a young gosling trailing close to it’s parents.  And  with temperatures often dropping down to the thirties at night, the scouts quickly learned why goslings are so fluffy and reliant on the warmth of their parents.  The cold nights weren’t very popular, but mornings on the refuge are a love/hate relationship.  The question of the weekend was whether to wake up early and watch a beautiful sunrise in the cold, or stay in the warmth of a sleeping bag till breakfast time.

Nobody could sum it up better than Uncle Baron when he had to say, “It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.”

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