I met Katie up at Koke'e just after Hurricane Iniki when we were both temporary residents enticed into the uplands by the extreme damage to habitable spaces on the rest of the island. What we found up there was the most incredibly beautiful, natural forest being invaded by introduced non-native plants and invasive, destructive alien plant and tree species.
We spent many days hiking the trails, learning the plants, and listening to lectures Katie organized through the Koke'e Museum by noted ornithologists, invasive species experts, geologists, fern experts, wildlife photographers and even historical legend writers. It was an amazing time on the mountain. While I returned to my former occupations, nursing and and journalism, Katie went even deeper into the forest. In a few short years, she developed the Koke'e Conservation Resource Project in 1996 and the rest has been history and a far better chance of survival for native species on Kauai. Congratulations and Thank You to Katie Cassel and all her dedicated volunteers --Sheila
GOVERNOR ABERCROMBIE KICKS OFF HAWAII INVASIVE SPECIES AWARENESS WEEK
2nd Annual Kickoff Event Recognizes Statewide Heroes – Volunteer opportunities held across the state
HONOLULU—On Monday March 3rd, Governor Neil Abercrombie kicked off Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness week with a proclamation and special recognition of this year’s Hawaii Invasive Species Council Award Recipients. Declaring that “invasive species pose the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s health, environment, economy, and people” the Governor praised the award recipients for their dedication to protecting Hawaii and encouraged all to continue leading the fight. State Representatives and Senators were on hand to present the awards which included 2013 Community Hero, 2013 Hottest Hotline Report to 643-PEST, 2013 Business Leader, Greatest Hit of 2013 and MVPS’s from each county in the state.
Kauai MVP 2014, presented by Representative Derek S.K. Kawakami, Representative James Tokioka, and Representative Dee Morikawa: Katie Cassel arrived in Kauai to help with the clean up after hurricane Iniki, and began the Kokee Resource Conservation Program (KRCP), when she recognized the need for a dedicated, volunteer-based program to help control invasive species in Kokee State Park to help protect the pristine forests that had already been devastated by destructive winds. She has been working tirelessly to involve not only the local community but also inspiring volunteers from all over the world to participate in conservation efforts on Kauai. Katie’s determination has allowed KRCP to lead over 27,000 volunteers resulting in the removal of over 10 million individual invasive plants in selected areas of Kokee State Park and Waimea Canyon State Park. Many of the people working in conservation on Kauai got their experience working under Katie and now hold positions at DLNR- DOFAW, KISC, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), and many other groups helping to preserve Kauai’s natural resources. Katie has also formed many strong partnerships on Kauai through collaborative projects.
Article and photos courtesy of Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/news/hisaw2014kickoff/