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Lahaina residents using native plants to help prevent future brush fires

By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow

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    LAHAINA, Hawaii (KITV) — A now two-weeks long brush fire on Maui that scorched 2,175 acres of Kauaula in Lahaina has ignited nearby residents to help prevent similar disasters in the future. Their solution? Planting native plants.

“To basically keep the weeds down because I think that’s the biggest problem,” activist Ke’eaumoku Kapu told KITV4. “Every time there’s a fire they (the weeds) burn, and they grow back.”

Kapu added many of the existing native plants in the area are struggling because of invasive species.

In their effort to reforest the land with native vegetation, Kapu and other organizers sought donations, receiving a variety of about 400 native plants, including hala, ‘a’ali’i, and ukiuki.

“What we’re trying to do is use different types of species that are adaptable to less water and is more (fire) retardant in dry areas,” Kapu explained.

Organizers are calling on volunteers to help them clear brush and reforest the area on Saturday and Sunday. The group will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the intersection of Mill and Shaw Street right near the Lahaina Aquatic Center.

The timing is metaphoric, Kapu emphasized, to stage the event on the eve of La Ku’oko’a, or Hawaiian Independence Day, next Monday. For Kapu, returning native plants to their rightful home is a fitting feat to observe the holiday.

“Hopefully we can use this opportunity to educate a lot of people,” Kapu said.

According to a spokesperson from the Maui Fire Department, the fire is 90% contained with no active flames.

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