By Joseph Bonfiglio
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- Volunteers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the City and County of Honolulu and other concerned citizens to participate in Honolulu's Earth Day 2012 Mauka to Makai Clean Water Expo, April 14.
Approximately 30 volunteers from the Punahou High School Junior ROTC program, which includes students from other area high schools including Damien and some local homeschooledstudents, members of the Radford High School African-American Club and Corps' employees and family members joined forces to clean up the beach and berm area of the Corps' Pacific Regional Visitor Center (RVC) at Fort DeRussy; more than 50 volunteers participated.
"We're excited to be out here," said Lt. Col. Robert Takao, commander of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Punahou High School.
"I'm very encouraged by what I see of these young people," Takao said. "They need adults to steer them in the right direction and the (RVC) staff, by providing these opportunities in an organized and safe manner, enables these students to have a good experience which will make them want to come back and do this again. I'm very happy with the staff here and what they have done to organize this event and support it."
"We've had a good relationship with the RVC staff for a number of years both in terms of education and service. The Corps should be pleased that they have forged this relationship with the JROTC program over the years," Takao said.
The cleanup was part of Earth Month Mauka to Makai efforts to protect the Ala Wai Watershed and Oahu's reefs.
In addition, the cleanup was also an America's Great Outdoors event which promotes President Obama's vision to have Americans get out, get fit and appreciate and care for our Great Outdoors.
"We're celebrating Earth Day with our volunteer groups to come out and clean up the beach berm behind the Regional Visitor Center, picking up the litter, and making people aware of some of the things and activities we can do to help save our planet," said Mike Wong, Chief of the Civil Works Technical Branch at the Honolulu District.
"I always feel good when we can convey some of the messages about saving our planet and keeping it clean to the younger kids," Wong said.
"Our Park Ranger Angela Jones and my Administrative Assistant, Joanne Brostrom did a super job in organizing and coordinating this event."
In addition to the Fort DeRussy cleanup, the City and County of Honolulu, Department of Environmental Services sponsored other environmental events the same day including an Earth Day Mauka to Makai Clean Water Expo at the Waikiki Aquarium with participants from many organizations interested in keeping Honolulu clean and green.
The expo showcased the efforts of city, state and federal agencies to preserve and protect Hawaii's environment, with an emphasis on the Islands' unique water resources.
Mauka to Makai, a Clean Water expo at the Waikiki Aquarium, offered family-friendly activities and hands-on educational displays. The free green event showcased more than 20 city, state and federal agencies that work together to preserve and protect Hawaii's environment, with an emphasis on Hawaii's water resources.
Cindy Barger of the Honolulu District attended the expo and told participants about the Ala Wai Watershed project in which the Corps is teaming up with the City and County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii to study various solutions for a comprehensive watershed approach to reducing the risk of flooding, restore the aquatic ecosystem and improving the water quality of the area. Barger manned the Corps' booth at the event to educate the community on issues in the watershed and objectives of the Ala Wai Watershed Project.
Partners in the Ala Wai Watershed Project also had booths at the event: the Natural Resources Conservation Service; City and County Department of Environmental Services; Board of Water Supply; Department of Land and Natural Resources, Commission for Water Resource Management and the Department of Health.
All of the events featured family-friendly and hands-on educational displays by city, state and federal agencies and the University of Hawaii. Hundreds of people participated in several events around the city and county including many adopt a stream clean ups in the Ala Wai watershed.
Earth Day in Honolulu increases awareness and support for ongoing education and efforts to build partnerships and grassroots involvement to keep the aina clean year-round.
Earth Day was established March 21, 1970 as an annual event to deepen reverence and care for life on the planet.
The Corps' RVC first opened its doors at Battery Randolph in 1983. Its goal is to enhance the public's understanding of the multidimensional role of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Particular emphasis is on Civil Works and water resources development that affect the lives of all the residents of Hawaii and the people of the Pacific.
The RVC is located on the second floor of historic Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy, Waikiki. Battery Randolph is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and is one of 16 coastal fortifications built by the Corps between 1906 and 1917 for the protection of Honolulu and Pearl harbors.