Nature Center gets watershed grant

The Hawai`i Nature Center has received a $767,000 grant from the federal government to improve the Ala Wai watershed. The grant, from the Environmental Protection Agency, will go toward public education and community involvement projects. The watershed stretches from the mountains to the sea between Punchbowl and Kaimuki.

“This grant will provide the community with useful tools to protect, preserve and enhance the Ala Wai watershed,” said John Kemmerer with the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “We’re excited about the partnership between Hawai`i Nature Center and the Ala Wai Watershed Association.”

According to an EPA release, the Hawai`i Nature Center will use the money for several projects, including environmental education for 4,800 elementary school children, service learning projects for 20 after-school programs, the creation of an adult environmental education plan and restoring and enhancing portions of the Makiki Loop Trail.

The Center will also provide grant funds to the Ala Wai Watershed Association to help their efforts in caring for the watershed.

According to the EPA, $200,000 of the grant will fund community projects. The Hawai`i Nature Center will request community project proposals and will also consider other project proposals already selected by the Ala Wai Watershed Association.

The Ala Wai Watershed drains into the Ala Wai Canal, which was built in the 1920’s to provide flood control and to convert Waikiki marshland to other uses. The canal is currently being dredged to remove the excessive sedimentation and urban runoff from surrounding neighborhoods that have clogged the waterway, and to improve the canal’s ability to provide flood control.

To learn more about the Ala Wai watershed improvement project or the community project grants, contact Greg Dunn of the Hawai`i Nature Center at 955-0100 or Karen Ah Mai of the Ala Wai Watershed Association at 955-7882.

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