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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 27, 2005

Plants soften scars on island of Kaho'olawe

Some hurts can never be erased, but even the attempt is good for the soul.

Windswept, sun-baked, bomb-littered Kaho'olawe may never return to the pristine state that existed before deforestation, goat ranching and Navy bombing practice turned it into a wasteland.

But the healing is well under way, thanks to the work of many volunteers and businesses dedicated to the propagation of native plants including Ho'olawa Farms, a Maui nursery. Many indigenous and endemic plants are adapted to the environment and are excellent candidates for the replanting of the barren landscape.

Actually, the landscape is already less barren, and about 150,000 of the new, green inhabitants of Kaho'olawe soil come from Ho'olawa. The business grew out of the zeal for native plants harbored by owner Anna Palomino, one of the Islands' horticulturalists devoted to the perpetuation of local species, many of them endangered.

Under the agreement of transfer that moved the island to state control, the former Target Island is destined to return to Hawaiian ownership, at the time a Native Hawaiian government would form.

Both elements of this project using human hands to undo the damage done by human hands, and using native plants in the greening of a native island seem the right way to restore Kaho'olawe.