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    MCBH and the Community Work Together to Combat Invasive Species

    Uninvited Guests: Windward community unites to battle invasive species threats

    Photo By Sgt. Brandon Aultman | Lance Bookless, senior natural resources manager for Marine Corps Base Hawaii, speaks...... read more read more



    Story by 2nd Lt. John OHara 

    Marine Corps Base Hawaii

    Representatives from Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s Environmental Compliance and Protection Division and Environmental Protection Integration Program gathered alongside elected and local leaders as well as community members during a town hall to address mutual concerns regarding the impact of invasive species on the Windward side of Oahu. As stewards of the unique and culturally significant Mokapu peninsula and surrounding training areas, MCBH takes pride in our role of protecting local resources. Invasive species pose a threat to the local economy, the island’s ecosystem, and the safety of Oahu’s residents. As a member of the community, MCBH has direct lines of effort to help mitigate the spread and impact of invasive species.

    The REPI Program is a vital component of the Marine Corps’ holistic encroachment mitigation strategy that can be used to combat detrimental impacts of invasive species and other environmental conditions that threaten MCBH’s ability to perform mission requirements that are critical for national defense. This unique partnership program supports cost-sharing agreements between the Department of Defense, Marine Corps, state and local government, and private conservation organizations. The REPI Program seeks to implement as many projects as possible, extending our resources to community partners and collaborating on shared natural resource challenges that can negatively impact the community or operational readiness.

    Strong relationships with state, regional, and community stakeholders are critical to managing encroachment, sustaining military readiness, and enhancing island-wide resiliency. Each year, there is a competitive process for military installations and eligible entities to submit proposals for REPI funding that can support a wide variety of important environmental partnership projects that align with community concerns. Leah Rothbaum, an environmental protection specialist, serves as the REPI lead for MCBH and elaborated on the program’s role towards supporting the community.

    “REPI is really a collaborative, partner-minded program where we increase the magnitude of environmental projects that mutually support separate entities,” said Rothbaum. “DoD REPI funds can be used to protect land from development, improve habitat for threatened and endangered species, and build capacity of partner organizations. So, whether REPI funding is used to hire more people to conduct environmental stewardship activities or obtain equipment to help them more effectively do their job, it’s an encroachment management tool and cost sharing program that can provide significant and long-lasting community benefits over the life of the partnership.”

    As part of a 2023 REPI Challenge MCBH has partnered with the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and other key partners to support an $8.7 million project ($3.4 million in REPI Program funds and $5.6 million in partner contributions) to manage invasive species by protecting and enhancing native ecosystem biodiversity. As a result, these supported projects will preserve and protect cultural and natural resources throughout Hawaii. Through 2022, DoD and its partners have spent nearly $131M on REPI projects across four installations in Hawaii and have protected over 15,000 acres of land.

    Within MCBH, the ECPD manages the natural environment including the beaches, landscaping, wildlife, and vegetation. The division oversees outreach for natural resources and manages pest control. Lance Bookless, natural resources program manager for MCBH’s ECPD, gave insight to methods and programs on base to eradicate invasive species. The Weed Warrior Program – open to all service members and members of the community - is a bimonthly event focused on the removal of invasive species on the Mokapu Peninsula and Marine Corps Training Area Bellows. Lance also runs tests on base to locate potential infestations of Little Fire Ant or Coconut Rhinoceros Beatle. Currently, there are no LFA or CRB infestations onboard MCBH. A biosecurity plan is under review as the status of invasive species changes and new information and cleaning techniques become available. Cleaning routines and inspections are part of the biosecurity plan to help eliminate the threat of cross contamination and unintended travel of invasive species throughout the islands.

    LFA, CRB, and coqui frogs are just three of the hundreds of invasive species affecting Oahu and the islands of Hawaii. Invasive plant and animal species have been affecting Oahu’s balance for generations. Members of the community who experience the beauty of Oahu bear witness to the detrimental impact that invasive species have on our shared quality of life, environment, and ecosystem.

    Strong, informed communities are the first line of defense against all invasive species. Communities across Oahu and the State of Hawaii can count on the Marines of MCBH to provide an additional layer of defense to protect the environment and defend against evolving invasive species threats. Whether it’s MCBH championed efforts or providing resources and support to local community projects, Marines are eager to volunteer at a moment’s notice. Getting involved can be as easy as notifying environmental and pest facilities when invasive species are identified. If you want to do more, special programs are always accepting volunteers to help clear invasive species such as the Weed Warrior Program, that hosts regular MCBH clean ups, the Hawaii Ant Lab, who battles the infestation of LFA, and the Hawaii CRB Response team, who seek ways to eliminate CRB.

    Reach out and find ways to help our community stay free of infestation!



    Date Taken: 08.31.2023
    Date Posted: 08.31.2023 18:03
    Story ID: 452600

    Web Views: 238
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