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Need a New Year’s resolution? Here’s 12 ways to protect Maui from invasive species all year long

KIA'I MOKU

Exercise is on many New Year’s resolution lists for 2022, and hiking is a great way to accomplish this while getting outside. Before hitting the trail, take a few minutes to clean your boots, gear and car of mud and dirt before and after going to a new place. This helps prevent seeds and other invasive hitchhikers from spreading into a new area. — MAUI INVASIVE SPECIES COMMITTEE photo

At the start of a new year, many of us are taking time to reflect and set goals. Consider adding to your list a resolution to do small things each month to protect our environment. Here are a few simple actions you can take that will help make a difference on the invasive species front throughout the year.

January

Clean before you go. If exercise is on your list of resolutions, hiking is a great way to crush your step goal. Take a few minutes to clean your boots, gear and car of mud and dirt before and after going to a new place. This helps prevent seeds and other invasive hitchhikers from spreading into a new area.

February

Learn about statewide invasive species efforts. February is Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Month, an initiative to share and bring awareness to statewide invasive species efforts. Join in on this year’s activities by visiting dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc.

You can keep up your New Year’s resolution all year by doing small things each month to protect our environment. Making lei — with either native or nonnative materials — is a creative way to learn about this important practice and the plants used to make it. — MAUI INVASIVE SPECIES COMMITTEE photo

March

Report chirping coqui. Hawaii’s wet season (hooilo) is typically November through April. Coqui tend to go out during rainfall or just after it has rained, especially when the temperatures are above 70 degrees, making this month especially good to be alert to coqui calls. If you hear one, report it to mauiinvasive.org.

April

Plant native. April is Native Hawaiian Plant Month. Celebrate by planting native. Native plants use less water, fertilizer and fewer pesticides, in addition to creating a healthy environment, watershed and helping native species thrive.

May

Make lei. May day is lei day in Hawaii, and a great time to learn about this important cultural practice. Many lei are made using native plants, some of which you may have planted in April. Some modern lei even include invasive species to highlight environmental issues artistically.

June

Prevent the spread of rapid ohia death. Ohia flowers year-round but bloom heaviest from March to June. Although Maui has only had one positive rapid ohia death case since 2019, it is important to stay vigilant in protecting this cherished tree from this deadly fungus. Report ohia trees that have browned and died suddenly to (808) 573-MISC (6473).

July

Travel smart. Check twice before you bring something interisland. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture must inspect plants and plant cuttings before being taken interisland to ensure there are no unwanted pests or diseases riding along. Also, if you traveled to Hawaii island, make sure to decontaminate boots and gear before returning home to prevent spreading rapid ohia death to other islands.

August

Report pampas grass. This highly invasive grass starts to bloom in August, and large clumps have the potential of producing millions of wind-borne seeds in just one year. In forests, pampas compete against native plants in our watershed and can create a fire hazard. It is illegal to propagate or transport pampas into the state. If you see pampas — either planted in the ground or in an arrangement — report it to (808) 573-MISC (6473).

September

Be neighborly. Some invasive species problems are too big to tackle alone, but if left unchecked will become everyone’s problem. Offer to help out your neighbors with an invasive species in their yard. If you have coqui frogs in your neighborhood, joining the Community Coqui Control Program with MISC is one way to get involved in tackling this invasive pest. Visit mauiinvasive.org to learn more.

October

Survey your yard for little fire ants. October is Stop the Ant Month. Prevent the spread of this painful invasive pest by surveying your yard at least four times a year. Learn more and request a free collection kit at stoptheant.org, and always report stinging ants.

November

Eat an invasive. The season of eating offers plenty of edible invasive species, from axis deer to strawberry guava to pigs. Make a meal, or part of a meal, in the spirit of removing invasive species. Visit chefhui.com to learn more about creative ways to cook invasive species.

December

Have a local Christmas. Choose a locally grown Christmas tree from the Kula Botanical Garden, or get a permit from DLNR and cut down an invasive pine in Kula Forest Reserve. Native alahee also make a great substitute and grow well in pots to use year after year.

If you want to do more, there are a host of organizations and volunteer activities for any interest. You can find volunteer opportunities on Maui at mauimauka.org/volunteer.

* Serena Fukushima is the public relations and education specialist for the Maui Invasive Species Committee. She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and a graduate degree in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Kia’i Moku, Guarding the Island” is written by the Maui Invasive Species Committee to provide information on protecting the island from invasive plants and animals that threaten our islands’ environment, economy and quality of life.

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