“As part of living in Kaua‘i, the Garden Island, we are surrounded by natural beauty all around us. These natural resources are part of what makes the installation so special,” said PMRF Environmental Director Jessi Behnke.
Personnel aboard PMRF take great pride in their role as caretakers of the cultural and natural resources they are entrusted with here, she said. This Earth Day celebration embodied that commitment, and highlighted the importance of working with partners, she noted. The topics centered on a shared desire to care for the land and invest in the planet, according to Behnke. It is important to educate and engage the community, and share information on how each person can make a difference, she added.
“Mahalo to the schools, partner agencies, and PMRF sailors and civilian personnel who were a part of the event to support and protect our natural landscape,” she said.
Heading out to the beach, the participating sailors, civilian personnel, and more than 125 children from three area schools gleaned the coastline for debris and trash. In a friendly competition, the teams removed approximately 385 pounds of trash from the environment.
In another highlight of the day, the children watched in rapt attention as Kawehi Harris, a biological science technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for PMRF, Barking Sands, used commands and demonstrated how Sweep, a bird hazing dog, safely removes birds from the airfield and other areas, to prevent bird strikes that could be dangerous to the bird and personnel.
Other events included PMRF demonstrations on protecting and conserving native plants and animals, and partner agencies sharing the work they do to safeguard the environment. Participants planted native Pōhuehue, or Morning Glory, in front of the Shenanigans beachfront restaurant, and recycled and composted waste from lunch.
“Earth Day to me and everyone on our team is every single day,” Tara del Fierro Duran, an archaeologist and the cultural resources manager at PMRF, noted about this special tribute day.
“On Earth Day I just want to recognize that we are all kupu (a sprout), we’re on a journey, and we’re all growing,” she told the children, adding, “Today we’re celebrating our journey here with our environment, with the land, and in journeys with each other in the communities we are with, and with many schools here.”
Located on southwestern Kaua‘i, PMRF protects and conserves native Hawaiian plants and wildlife across the installation landscape. The diverse wildlife includes Hawaiian Nēnē geese that can be seen in families walking about the installation, and Hawaiian Monk seals and sea turtles that emerge from the deep blue to come to the beaches. Hawaiian Hoary Bats roost in trees, while protected seabirds nest on the coastline, and spinner dolphins and whales swim off the coast.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to have you out here at PMRF at this beautiful beach,” PMRF Commanding Officer Capt. Brett Stevenson told the children. “We love our island home here and we want to make it as beautiful and as safe as we can. I’m so thrilled that all of you were able to come here today to help us out with that.”
The day was a huge success, according to the PMRF team, who recognize and thank the partners that participated in the Earth Day event: Save Our Shearwaters, Kauai Invasive Species Committee, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, UH Sea Grant, Zero Waste Kauai, USDA Wildlife Services, and The Nature Conservancy.