Soldiers spruce up Makaeo: 2nd IBCT, 25th ID clears pickleweed from anchialine pond

  • Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division work to remove thick carpet of pickleweed from an anchialine pond Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division work to remove thick carpet of pickleweed from an anchialine pond Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Pfc. Cooper Swider uses a pitchfork to load a mass of pickleweed and other unwanted plants pulled from an anchialine pond into a wheelbarrow Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Pfc. Majory Valeriano uses her feet to get extra leverage as she works to remove a thick mat of pickleweed on Friday from an anchialine pond at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Spc. Daniel Weatherby works to remove pickleweed from an anchialine pond Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • A thick, well-rooted carpet of pickleweed and other unwanted plants covered the anchialine pond at Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path when members of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division arrived Friday morning. (Elizabeth Northrup/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division work to stack a wall after removing pickleweed from the edge of an anchialine pond Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Capt. Mike Tougher, front, and Pfc. Cooper Swider, walking behind, bring one of the many wheelbarrows full of pickleweed and other unwanted plants pulled from an anchialine pond Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Sgt. Elizabeth Northrup rakes up dead grass and pickleweed Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. About an hour later, as the soldiers waited for a quick meal to arrive, Northrup fashioned a tool to help a woman retrieve her car keys that had fallen into a small well. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • Members of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division fill a roll-off dumpster donated by Superior Sanitation with pickleweed removed from an anchialine pond Friday at the Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

  • A member of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division works in a pickleweed-infested anchialine pond at Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Elizabeth Northrup/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • A member of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division works in a pickleweed-infested anchialine pond at Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona. (Elizabeth Northrup/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Active duty soldiers with the Oahu-based U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division preparing for training at Pohakuloa Training Area descended upon the path at Old Kona Airport Park on Friday and Saturday to give back to the Big Island community by providing some much-needed muscle and care to the site’s main anchialine pond. (Elizabeth Northrup/Special to West Hawaii Today)

A large anchialine pond is once again visible, attracting dragonflies and other pollinators to the bounty of flora at Makaeo Walking and Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona.

Active duty soldiers with the Oahu-based U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division preparing for training at Pohakuloa Training Area descended upon the path at Old Kona Airport Park on Friday and Saturday to give back to the Big Island community by providing some much-needed muscle and care to the site’s main anchialine pond.

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The troops, like their predecessors who first restored the brackish water pool a decade before, battled through a thick, well-rooted carpet of pickleweed and other unwanted plants to reveal the natural pond that’s fed by seawater that seeps in underground through porous rock and mixes with surface water.

The 2nd IBCT, 25th ID trains at Pohakuloa about once per year, and anytime its solders come to hone their skills at the training facility situated between the Maunakea and Mauna Loa, they all make an effort to give back to the island. The division deploys anywhere in the world in support of land operations.

“We like to use the Pohakuloa Training Area, there’s great facilities up there,” said Capt. Mike Tougher, the officer in charge of the weekend mission at Makaeo in coordination with nonprofit Friends For Fitness. “And, every time we come to the Big Island, we like to do a community service event just to give back and say, ‘thank you,’ for letting us use the training area up there.”

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To ensure safety amid the pandemic, the division’s members are frequently tested and quarantine after travel. The event followed state Department of Health and CDC guidelines by limiting the number of soldiers each day and requiring every one to wear a mask and practice social distancing, despite being outdoors, said Major Jimmy Sheehan, 2nd IBCT, 25th ID Public Affairs Officer.

“It’s a little, small ‘bubble’ event. We come out, do our thing and go back,” he said.

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