By Joseph Bonfiglio
Honolulu District Public Affairs
More than 60 volunteers scoured Fort DeRussy in Waikiki, picking up trash and installing storm drain markers as part of National Public Lands Day, Sept. 29.
The Corps of Engineers’ Regional Visitor Center (RVC) coordinated the event which was supported by Corps employees, Iolani School’s Brownie Troop 276 and Punahou Junior ROTC cadets.
“We’ve got about 22 students out here today all engaged in a great effort to help the environment. We’re really pleased with what they do,” said Lt. Col. Robert Takao, JROTC commander at Punahou High School. His cadets concentrated their efforts on cleaning up the beach berm behind historic Battery Randolph.
“We’ve been doing this for the last five or six years, and we always get willing volunteers. It’s never hard to get the cadets to come out because they realize how good it is for our world to do things like this. I’m really proud of them,” Takao said.
“It’s been a wonderful partnership working with the Army Garrison and the Corps of Engineers with Angela (Jones – RVC park ranger) and the staff here. They’re so friendly and receptive. The kids really enjoy the atmosphere and the fellowship of doing something like this together that’s meaningful, and we really appreciate the cooperation of working with the Corps folks who sponsor us down here. It’s one of our highlights every year,” said Takao.
At this year’s event, Girl Scout Brownie Troop 276, out of the East Honolulu Service Unit, joined in the activities by picking up litter and installing storm drain markers throughout the Fort DeRussy Area. Their participation was coordinated by Brownie Troop Leader and Honolulu District Project Manager Nani Shimabuku.
“I’m very proud of what our girls are doing here today. They’re not just learning about protecting the environment, they’re actually doing something to make a difference,” Shimabuku said. “They especially enjoyed installing the storm drain markers. They really feel good about it.” The drain markers remind people to dump no waste since the water drains to the ocean.
Volunteers picked up over 12 bags of trash from the area.
“We’re happy about educating the public on the importance of preserving and improving our precious natural and cultural treasures,” said Angela Jones, head park ranger for the Corps’ Regional Visitor Center. “This year we added in a water safety component and emphasized how important picking the right size life vest is. It can mean the difference between life and death. We also afforded our volunteers an opportunity to get some exercise as part of President Obama’s ongoing America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative.”
In addition to the Corps’ efforts, the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii also supported Public Lands Day atop Mt. Kaala where environmental staff led a volunteer group to stop the spread of invasive weeds and protect the native ecosystem.
National Public Lands Day is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S. It began in 1994 and focuses on education and partnerships to care for the nation’s natural treasures.
For more information on National Public Lands Day visit http://www.publiclandsday.org For information on Corps’ recreation opportunities visit www.CorpsLakes.us