Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than two dozen volunteers from various organizations came together to plant 100 native Hawaiian trees Friday at the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery.
Rob Yagi of the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative led the group comprised of Kona Sunrise Rotary Club, ARC of Kona, Midnight Riders Motorcycle Club and American Legion up the pu‘u above the cemetery to plant 25 wiliwili, 35 a‘alii, 25 ile‘e and 15 koai‘a.
Barbara Kossow from Kona Sunrise Rotary had a project idea and approached Don Zero, Chief Financial Officer of the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery Development and Expansion Corporation. She suggested a volunteer day at the cemetery as an extension of the Rotary’s National Program of planting trees. Statewide, Rotatarians have planted more than 17,000 trees this year alone.
The idea was quickly accepted and Zero took on duties of coordinator. He approached the corporation’s membership to present and receive monies to go forward.
Yagi’s organization donated 25 of the plants while the cemetery purchased an additional 75. Yagi also laid out locations of planting and set the drip lines.
The pu’u to the west of the cemetery is tens of thousands of years old. Subsequent lava flows went around it creating a “mini-ecosystem.” Yagi said that a case in point is that there are only two koali kahioko plants left in the world; one of them is on that pu’u.
Zero extended a heartfelt thanks to all on behalf of the corporation and those who share the area as their last home.
Reforestation of the dry lowland forest began in 2005 and with help from volunteers, students, veterans and active duty soldiers, continues today.