KOROR, Republic of Palau --
Marines and Sailors with Task Force Koa Moana 21, I Marine Expeditionary Force, participated in ongoing local efforts to remove Cheuais – a native but aggressive plant – from Lake Ngardok in the state of Melekeok Aug. 7, 2021.
Lake Ngardok, meaning “living spring” in the native Palauan language, has been an important source of drinking water for thousands of years. In times of drought, it has been the only life sustaining water source for the country. It is the largest freshwater lake in Micronesia.
“We appreciate the help, and we did a lot of work today because of the Marines.” said Henaro Polloi, Governor of Melekeok. “What we did today was double the work we have done in the past. The community and the leadership appreciates all of the work today.”
“Environmental protection is important to the people of Palau and the United States. Participating in events like this underscores the idea that the people of the United States and Palau can work together..." U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Michael Cathey, the TFKM-21 staff judge advocate
Due to the remoteness of the lake, the removal of Cheuais must be done by hand and is labor intensive. Using a combination of machetes, handsaws and homemade tools, the plants are first cut at the base. The remaining volunteers form a human chain to pass the cut plants and deposit them on the shore where they are dried out and used as mulch to prevent further erosion in the area.
“It was great to get out and help the community.” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Michael Cathey, the staff judge advocate for Task Force Koa Moana 21 (TFKM-21). “Environmental protection is important to the people of Palau and the United States. Participating in events like this underscores the idea that the people of the United States and Palau can work together to find sustainable ways to improve the environment.”
In addition to community events, TFKM-21 will be conducting engineering, medical, explosive ordinance disposal, and maritime law enforcement subject matter expert exchanges and exercises to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the Compact of Free Association.
Task Force Koa Moana is designed to strengthen and enhance relationships between the U.S. and partner nations/states in the Indo-Pacific Region while remaining COVID-19 safe. Task Force Koa Moana 21 has the unique opportunity and privilege of working with the Republic of Palau as a sign of the U.S. commitment to the people of Palau and its partners and allies in the Indo-Pacific Region.