Results and Accomplishments
In the early 1980s, Base natural resources staff and Marines began teaming with civilian volunteers such as the Sierra Club and other groups to host "ecology camps" to remove mangrove and pickleweed by hand. At the same time, Marines began what is now an annual "Mud Ops" tradition, where weed removal joins Marine training maneuvers. Using 26-ton amphibious assault vehicles, Marines plow through pickleweed in wetland mud. ats, improving stilt habitat before the onset of nesting season while gaining valuable training experience.
While using amphibious assault vehicles might seem heavy-handed, it controls the noxious weeds, allows stilts and native plants to re-establish themselves, and provides the Marines with essential training. Machines developed to operate in wartime are waging an ecological battle. In addition, the event accomplishes in two days what it would take contractors weeks to do. And it’s successful: the number of stilt counted on the Base over twenty years has risen from 60 to 160. The Base is beginning to collaborate with State agencies and other organizations to remove mangroves in adjacent Kaneohe Bay, Oahu to prevent their spread. "Mud Ops" is featured annually in the media and, in 2004, a nationally distributed poster featuring the event was produced as part of the Marines’ Saving a Few Good Species awareness campaign. After 23 years, the Marine Corps Base Hawaii has removed all mangroves from its wetlands, kept pickleweed in check, and has been recognized in the State’s Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan as a proactive conservation leader.