Kilauea River and Rock Quarry Beach. Photo by Liza Fern

The management at Duke’s Kaua‘i Restaurant is asking the Kaua‘i community to join efforts in helping to clear Kilauea River, by Rock Quarry Beach, of one nasty little invasive plant that can cause a lot of environmental problems. The cleanup starts at 10 a.m. this Saturday, and those who have kayaks and SUPs are encouraged to bring them.

The Kilauea River is threatened by an invasive weed, which originated as an aquarium plant. Salvinia is a clumping plant, which has been designated as the world’s most invasive aquatic plant. It reproduces rapidly and can double in weight in just two-and-a-half days. It grows rapidly and forms dense mats over still waters.

Consisting of small clumps of leaves, the plants mass together to create a floating mat on the water surface. Small pieces of the mat break loose and float downstream to begin growth of a new colony. The dense growth covers approximately 20 percent of the surface area of Kilauea River at present. A piece of salvinia as small as a nailhead can be transported to another water source, thereby creating the same situation in other Kaua‘i rivers and reservoirs. It is believed that other Kaua‘i rivers have been impacted already.

Salvinia poses an island-wide threat if not contained immediately. Obviously recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, kayaking and SUP are curtailed by massive plant growth on affected waterways. Once the water surface is 40-50 percent covered, the plant growth blocks out the sunlight which algae uses to create oxygen through photosynthesis. Without the sunlight and oxygen, native plants, fish, insects and other species die.

Several months ago, Kilauea residents enlisted the help of Kaua‘i Invasive Species as well as the DLNR and their Aquatic Resources Division to help combat the rapid growth of the weed in the Kilauea River. Although the government agencies recognize the salvinia impact, they encourage us to continue to work with community volunteers. Unfortunately, funding is not readily available to the local and state agencies. Therefore, management of Duke’s Kaua‘i Restaurant has joined with local residents to encourage a community action.

March 10, there will be a sign up station set up on the beach at Rock Quarry Beach. Volunteers can register to help in several different ways. They are encouraging volunteers to call (808) 482-0849 to RSVP.

Anyone willing to help should come to the beach at 10 a.m., ready to get wet and dirty. If possible, please bring SUP or kayak. You will be instructed about removal methods and techniques. At day’s end, Duke’s will provide refreshments for the volunteer workers.

Join this volunteering effort March 10 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Rock Quarry Beach.