Army program helps save native 3 Hawaiian plant species

  • Cyanea calycina, or haha in Hawaiian, is a rare endemic plant. (COURTESY photo/USGS)

HONOLULU — The U.S. Army’s natural resources program has helped save three native plant species from extinction, officials said.

The Army helped preserve the haha plant, Hawaiian mint and tree aster as part of its ongoing management of more than 120 endangered and threatened native species in Hawaii, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

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Schofield Barracks in Honolulu has greenhouses with endangered and threatened plants and a seed lab that maintains 12 million seeds, including some in cryonic storage at minus 112 degrees.

Army efforts helped reestablish wild populations of the haha, which was critically endangered, said Paul Smith, a natural resources biologist.

Several civilian employees and more than 50 University of Hawaii staff members also work on the Department of Defense natural resources program.

The program’s work was reduced because of the coronavirus outbreak, but efforts in the seed lab and greenhouses have continued.

“We can plant seeds and go out into the range and transplant plants as required (while) still maintaining the distancing and the intent of both the military leadership and the governor’s orders,” said Col. Tom Barrett, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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The Army annually spends more than $12 million in Hawaii on environmental programs supporting military training, a requirement set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to offset the effects of training.

“Leaders at all levels appreciate the significance of the training environment here in Hawaii and the use of the land and the need to preserve it well into the future,” 25th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Jamie Jarrard said.

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