BELLOWS BEACH, Hawaii --
Marines and civilians teamed up to volunteer as Weed Warriors at Bellows Beach to preserve Hawaii’s native vegetation, April 13, 2013.
Weed Warriors work to reduce the negative impact of invasive weeds and plants in parks, trails and shorelines.
During Weed Warriors events, staff from the Environmental Compliance and Protection Department offer information about native Hawaiian plants and how to protect them.
According to said Lance Bookless, the senior natural resources manager for Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the goal of the Weed Warriors is to improve the recreational quality of Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s environment.
Marines jumped at the opportunity to volunteer as Weed Warriors.
“This is my second time getting out with the Weed Warriors,” said Sgt. Michael Tomlin, a maintenance management chief with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and native of Whittier, Calif.
“It’s a good opportunity to get out and see the island,” Tomlin said. “I really enjoy helping the environment in Hawaii.”
Volunteers arrived at the Bellows Beach front gate at 8:30 a.m. and were briefed on the day’s mission.
Weed Warriors were tasked with hand pulling-golden crownbeard, a yellow dandelion-looking weed, which covered much of the open areas near Bellows Beach.
Marines grabbed axes and saws to attack the ironwoods, evergreen trees which populate much of the coastline.
They dug the sharp teeth of saw blades into the ironwood’s dark branches with much determination to help keep the coastline as free of invasive species as possible.
“I volunteer to give back to the community,” said Pfc. Kyle Kaiwibenson, a flight equipment technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24 and native of Punta Gorda, Fla.
“Every small deed makes a huge difference,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how big or small the volunteering opportunity is. All help makes the world a better place.”
Both species of plants are found throughout the Hawaiian Islands. They grow on the seashore in dry, salty, chalky soils and in high mountainous rainfall sectors in volcanic areas.
According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, factors such as numerical dominance, physical dominance or the alteration of native plants’ water cycle, or natural habitat determine the invasiveness of a plant.
The ironwood and golden crownbeard display the qualities of invasive plants.
“It’s good to have Marines get out into the community and give back to the beautiful environment that surrounds them,” Bookless said.
“This is the biggest group of volunteers we’ve had in a long time,” Bookless said. “Everything that everyone is doing here today helps the native plants grow.”