Lava Tree Park Clean-up & Planting

In August of 2003, the State cut and pruned some of the albizia from Lava Tree Park off Highway 132 near Pahoa. This was done to reduce coqui frog habitat and to protect the public from falling branches. Since then, there have been many complaints about the sloppy appearance of the front section, with branches and debris lying around. On June 25th and 26th of 2003, the “housekeeping” team came and cleaned it all up. All the branches and debris were chipped up and spread as mulch. Many thanks to the prisoners and administration of HCCC, the maintenance team from Nanawale Community Assn., members of Malama O Puna, unaffiliated volunteers, and the agency people of the Dept. of Ag and DLNR, who arranged the logistics. Already the park looks better…and this is only the beginning.

Some people miss the brightly colored invasive plants, such as heliconia, which have been removed. The good news is that we can have colorful plants that are not invasive, but are native to Hawai ‘i and the Puna area. The landscaping and restoration plan has been approved, and the plants have been acquired, thanks to the cooperation and generosity of Ed Brodie of the DLNR Tree Nursery, Prof. Fred Stone of HCC’s Forest Team class, Prof. Laura Brezinsky of UH-Hilo, Nina Gutmanis of Grow Native Nursery and Mark Franklin of Holei Nursery. It is now time to replant. The first planting day saw 17 volunteers put 52 trees in the ground!

There are few feelings of accomplishment as uplifting as looking up at a magnificent mature tree in all its grandeur, and knowing that it’s your “baby” and your legacy to the future. Here is an opportunity to create that experience for yourself.

Malama O Puna, in conjunction with State Parks, UH-CTAHR and the State Department of Agriculture, invites everyone who loves Lava Tree Park to call 965-2000 to add your name to the volunteer phone tree. We will notify you of upcoming planting days.

There have now been two volunteer workdays in which native trees were planted at the park. They are the ones with the bright yellow ribbons. Our rains have helped them to take hold, and some of the native hibiscus have bloomed. There is, however, a down side; someone stole 4 kou trees (about 3-4′ tall), which will now have to be replaced. These and all the other trees planted as part of this project, were donated by local nurseries and planted by our neighbors. If anyone has information about the tree theft, please call john Holley, Conservation Enforcement, at 974-6208.

More albizia trees have fallen down at the park, but fortunately, not across the road or on cars or people. Volunteers are needed to pick up downed branches and weed the albizia and clidemia seedlings, which keep sprouting. If you didn’t like the way it looked after the albizia were cut, come help us plant it with natives.