‘Time to give back’

Vol­un­teers work to re­store an­chia­line pools

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY CAMERON MICULKA cmiculka@west­hawai­ito­day.com

KALAOA — The first time Dena Sedar came down to the an­chia­line pools at Ka‘ele­hu­luhulu Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park, they were in poor shape. “It was low tide and so there was al­gae ev­ery­where,” she said Sat­ur­day, “and the pools just looked so sad that I was like ‘What is this and why haven’t we done any­thing about it?’” That ex­pe­ri­ence in­spired Sedar, an in­ter­pre­tive spe­cial­ist with Hawaii State Parks, to take on the task of restor­ing the pools to how they looked be­fore the in­tro­duc­tion of non­na­tive species and a 2011 tsunami that dumped sand and sed­i­ment into the pools. “And then I just re­ally fell in love with an­chia­line pools once I started do­ing more re­search into them,” she said.

An­chia­line pools are of­ten home to opae ula, tiny red shrimp that can feed off al­gae in the pools, keep­ing their growth in check. But non-na­tive fish, such as the gup­pies cur­rently mak­ing their home in the pools here, pose a risk to the shrimp and heavy de­posits of sand and sed­i­ment can block the nar­row pas­sage­ways the shrimp use to move be­tween pools.

Sedar’s goal, she told a group of vol­un­teers who came out Sat­ur­day morn­ing for a day of restor­ing the pools and clean­ing up the beach, was to re­store the pools to a point where the opae ula could make a re­turn.

Last week, the Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources an­nounced that the Di­vi­sion of State Parks re­ceived a $10,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Au­thor­ity Nat­u­ral Re­sources Pro­gram, ad­min­is­tered by the Hawaii Com­mu­nity Foun­da­tion.

Sedar, who wrote the

grant re­quest, said the award sig­naled sup­port for restora­tion work at the an­chia­line pools.

“Some­times with the state, other pri­or­i­ties come up,” she said. “But be­cause we had the grant, this project was a pri­or­ity. So it was nice to have the sup­port of HTA and then to know it was ded­i­cated to this spe­cific project.”

For some in at­ten­dance, the restora­tion work was a chance to learn about some­thing new.

“I think I’ve walked past here a num­ber of times and not re­ally known,” said Sam Cha­gani, an ac­count man­ager with FindLaw who was vol­un­teer­ing. “You just think ‘Yeah this is just rain­wa­ter that’s col­lect­ing; it’s just a swamp.”

Now though, he said, he con­sid­ers the pools “an amaz­ing ge­o­graph­i­cal fea­ture.” And, he added, peo­ple have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­store and take care of them.

“I think we for­get that a lot of this was changed by man, by our ac­tiv­i­ties with in­va­sive species,” Cha­gani said. “So it’s time to give back.”

Jesse Smalling, 40 of Kailu­aKona, was shov­el­ing sand into buck­ets to be hauled off away from the pools as he spoke about his ef­forts to get the pools into good con­di­tion again.

Smalling, the owner and oper­a­tor of slack­line com­pany SlackHi, helped or­ga­nize the day’s event and said his in­volve­ment comes from his love of Kua Bay, where there’s also an an­chia­line pool.

“I used to go back and look at the one there and re­al­ized that no­body was re­ally tak­ing care of it,” he said. “I went to State Parks and asked what I could do to help out and they said ‘Hey, we’re al­ready do­ing some­thing, jump on board.”

He pro­moted the event through a Face­book group he’s try­ing to cul­ti­vate, “Con­scious Com­mu­nity,” which peo­ple can join to sup­port each other in ef­forts to re­store an­chia­line pools, clean up beaches, “any­thing like that,” he said.

“There’s a lot of work to be done and there’s not enough peo­ple do­ing it,” he said. “It’s about mak­ing changes one day at a time, you know? Peo­ple come down here and don’t re­ally re­al­ize what it takes to keep it nice.”

Mean­while, yoga teacher Alyssa Kratz was help­ing to move those buck­ets of sand away from the pool and closer to the shore where they could be emp­tied.

Kratz, who led yoga for the vol­un­teers right be­fore the restora­tion work be­gan, said the in­for­ma­tion shared about the state of the pools is in­for­ma­tion ev­ery­one should have.

“I feel like when we know more about our place or we know more about the ecosys­tems that sup­port us where we live, we’ll have greater re­spect for it and maybe take bet­ter care,” she said.

Over­all, she said, the day’s job had been very ed­u­ca­tional for her, she said.

“I re­ally didn’t know what I was get­ting into com­ing out here other than that I was go­ing to teach yoga,” she said. “And now I’ve learned about this lit­tle ecosys­tem and learn­ing about it, we care about it more.”

Sedar said restora­tion work will con­tinue on fu­ture work days with the next one slated for ei­ther the end of Au­gust or Septem­ber.

CAMERON MICULKA/ WEST HAWAII TO­DAY

Sam Cha­gani dumps sand that’s been re­moved from an an­chia­line pool near Ka‘ele­hu­luhulu Beach in Kekaha Kai State Park Sat­ur­day.

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