Endangered Hawaiian Songbird Hatched in Artificial Nest Box Raises Hope for Species’ Survival

There is renewed hope for conservation of the endangered Puaiohi (pronounced Poo-eye-o-hee; also known as the Small Kauaʻi Thrush) on the island of Kauaʻi, Hawaii. Nest boxes put up in 2007 by Pacific Rim Conservation and the Kauaʻi Forest Bird Recovery Project have recently resulted in the fledging of a chick. This event is only the second time ever that Puaiohi chicks have fledged from nest boxes in the wild. Furthermore, during checks at the end of the season, fresh nest material was found in three other nest boxes, indicating that Puaiohi have been actively exploring and perhaps using even more nest boxes.

Puaiohi in nestbox by Eric VanderWerf, Pacific Rim Conservation

Puaiohi in nestbox by Eric VanderWerf, Pacific Rim Conservation

“When there are only approximately 500 mature individuals of a species left, small successes such as this are reasons to be excited.  It looks like the team on Kauaʻi may have identified a methodology that, though labor intensive, offers additional hope for preserving this bird in the wild,” said George Wallace, Vice President for Oceans and Islands at American Bird Conservancy.

The Puaiohi nests in natural cliff and tree cavities, and like many other native Hawaiian bird species, it is highly vulnerable to nest predation by rats, which prey on eggs, chicks, and even adults. A key to the success of some of these nest boxes, placed along the Kawaikoi Stream located in the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve and the Halepaʻakai Stream in the Alakaʻi Wilderness Preserve, is that they provide nest sites that are safer from rats.  Lisa “Cali” Crampton, Project Leader for the Kauaʻi Forest Bird Recovery Project, which is implementing conservation efforts for the Puaiohi said that, “Eventually, the project hopes to expand the range of Puaiohi by providing nest boxes in other areas that lack the natural cliff nest sites preferred by the species.”

One nest fledged a chick early in June, the first and only time since the first successful fledging in 2002. A second nest box was used for nesting, but the nesting attempt failed.  “Although only a small number of the 34 boxes have been used so far, we’re hoping that this is the beginning of an encouraging trend,” said Eric VanderWerf of Pacific Rim Conservation, who installed the boxes in 2007.

The Puaiohi is endemic to a small part of the island of Kauaʻi and is listed under the Endangered Species Act as Endangered. In addition to the rat problem, pigs destroy native forest understory vegetation where Puaiohi spend much of their time. Non-native plants, such as blackberry, Australian tree fern, Kahili ginger, daisy fleabane, and strawberry guava make habitat unsuitable for Puaiohi, in some cases overwhelming the cliff nesting sites along preferred stream banks with vegetation.

Puaiohi are also susceptible to avian pox and avian malaria, which are transmitted by introduced mosquitoes, but the full extent to which those diseases limit the species is not fully understood. Some birds have recently exhibited resistance to malaria, which is very encouraging for the future survival of the species.

The recovery efforts for Puaiohi are led by the Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project, a cooperative project of Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaii, and are supported by partners including the Kokeʻe Resource Conservation Program and the Kauai Watershed Alliance. Puaiohi have done relatively well in captivity. The Zoological Society of San Diego, in partnership with DOFAW and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have bred and released nearly 200 Puaiohi into the wild since 1999, which has likely helped maintain the wild population. In fact, some of the nest boxes in Kawaikoi Stream were used by captive-bred birds, further bolstering prospects for the species’ recovery.

Hawaii’s New $7 Million Federal Grants Aim to Increase Solar and Renewable Energy Integration Into Electric Grids

The State of Hawai’i was awarded more than $7 million in federal grants for renewable energy projects that include increasing solar energy and electric vehicles in Hawai’i, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced at today’s opening of the 2011 Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the following grants:
  • $6.1 million to the University of Hawai’i (UH) to work with industry partners to allow the electric grid to take on more solar energy by developing and demonstrating state of the art photovoltaic (PV) inverters
  • $750,000 to state Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) to provide technical assistance to the Public Utilities Commission and ultimately help remove barriers to allow for more renewable energy on the electric grid
  • $300,000 to the UH Maui College in partnership with DBEDT and private industry to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in Hawai’i
“To move beyond just talking about energy independence in Hawai’i, many people are now doing the intricate and necessary technical work behind the scenes,” Governor Abercrombie said. “The partnerships we are building among government agencies, utilities and private companies are advancing our plans to grow a sustainable economy here in the islands. And our strong alignment with President Obama’s clean energy initiatives opens up new opportunities for Hawai’i agencies, companies, and entrepreneurs.”
The number of PV systems, which generate electricity from sunlight, has doubled in each of the last three years, making Hawai’i second in the nation in photovoltaic per capita use. The two federal grants received by DBEDT and UH will help improve the reliability of the electricity delivery system as we continue to expand our use of renewable energy sources. Right now, electricity is generated when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. The projects will address both technical and regulatory changes to address the variability of solar power and other renewable energy.
“The technology developed through these grants has the potential to facilitate a broader adoption of PV systems at lower costs,” said Dr. Rick Rocheleau, Director of UH’s Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI).
“These grants are important investments in Hawai’i’s efforts to move toward energy independence,” said Estrella Seese, Acting Energy Program Administrator of DBEDT’s State Energy Office. “With the many strategic partnerships between state agencies including UH, the USDOE and energy industry, Hawai’i is poised to reduce its dependence on imported fuels within two decades.”
The Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo, hosted by DBEDT at the Hawai’i Convention Center, is a meeting place for international leaders and energy experts. Over the next three days, the State of Hawai’i and its partners will host a roster of world-renown speakers who will share diverse insights into the implications of advanced renewable energy technologies along with cutting-edge projects, while offering their perspectives on policy issues, and investment and financing opportunities.
This morning’s speakers also included R. James Woolsey, former Central Intelligence Director, and Dr. George Ka’iliwai, U.S. Pacific Command, Director of Resources and Assessment.

Mantracker Returns to the Big Island – Seeking Prey (Contestants)

Bonterra Productions is heading to Hawaii, the Big Island, to produce two episodes of the hit television series, Mantracker, to take place this December. Currently airing on OLN & Discovery Science, Mantracker is a gritty adventure series that pits an expert tracker against two weekend warriors in a chase through a remote, rugged wilderness.

Mantracker

The premise is simple… The prey are armed with a map, a compass, a 1.5 mile head start and a predetermined destination known only to them. The excitement begins as the prey have 36 hours to make it nearly 25 miles without getting caught. Mantracker has no map, no compass and no knowledge of where the chase begins and ends. Equipped only with expert forensic tracking knowledge and a local guide, he will stop at nothing to catch his prey.

Do you think you have what it takes to challenge Mantracker? Well here’s your chance to prove it. We’re looking for Hawaiian residents who are passionate, exciting, competitive and compelling, who have the strength, smarts and strategy to outfox and evade him. We are casting prey in teams – two people who have a pre-existing relationship, i.e. husband & wife, childhood friends, co-workers, siblings, exes, inlaws, bitter rivals and everything in between. Visit www.mantracker.ca for all the info you’ll need to apply.

You may recall Mantracker filmed in Kau during December 2009, resulting in two fantastic Hawaii  Island episodes.

The shows aired in 2010 during Season 5 and featured Hilo’s Shawn Pila and Chris Arruda, and Maui’s Tim Lara and Miah Redding.

Application deadline is Friday Oct 28th. For more information contact Michelle Budden, Production Coordinator, at contact@bonterraproductions.com.

Mantracker…It’s the ultimate cat and mouse chase through the wild. The prey are looking for glory… and Mantracker is looking for them. THE CHASE IS ON…

Mantracker airs on OLN Sundays at 9pm and Discovery Science Wednesdays at 10pm.

Senator Kahele Announces Puna Talk Story Forums

Senator Gilbert Kahele

On Sept 21st at the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, the second of five “Talk Story with Senator Gil Kahele” forums planned in Senatorial District 2 will be held from 5:30 to 7:30PM. This community forum will allow Senator Kahele to hear concerns of his constituents in the Puna district and help him prepare and craft legislation to introduce in the upcoming 27th State Legislature scheduled to open in January. He will also provide a recap of the 26th Legislature and conclude with a question and answer session with those in attendance. Some topics that will also be discussed will be the State’s progress on the improvements to State Highway 130, the Puna-Makai Alternate Route, HB-1626 Fuel Tax Bill, and current CIP projects with Puna’s public schools. Other Puna district legislators are also scheduled to attend and participate.

On Sept 22nd at the Kea’au Elementary School Cafeteria, Senator Kahele will be hosting and moderating a “Infrastructure and Transportation Town Hall Meeting” that will be held from 5:30-7:30PM. Mr. Glen Okimoto, State Director of the Department of Transportation as well as other top level State DOT officials and Hawai’i County Department of Public Work’s officials will be attending and participating in the forum. Top  items that will be discussed and progress reports given will be on State Highway 130, Hilo Harbor Expansion, Hilo Airport Cargo Facility and the Puna-Makai Alternate Route.

Members of the community can email the Senator with issues and questions for the forums. He will make every effort to address those questions and report on the findings of those issues at the forums.

Senator Kahele’s September Puna Events

September 21st 2011, 5:30-7:30PM Pahoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-3022 Kauhale Street, Pahoa (Behind Bank of Hawai’i)

September 22nd 2011, 5:30-7:30PM Kea’au Elementary Cafeteria, 16-680 Kea’au-Pahoa Road, Kea’au

Email your issue(s) to:

senkahele@capitol.hawaii.gov

or call/fax in your issue to:

1-808-586-6760 (Office)

1-808-586-6689 (Fax)

Please let us know which forum you’ll be attending, and send your issue no later than 3 days prior to the forum to guarantee it will be on the agenda.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Announce Formation of Oceans Caucus

Whitehouse, Murkowski to Lead Group

With our oceans and coastal resources, and the economies and jobs they support, facing constant and increasingly direct pressure from a variety of sources, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators today met to form a new Senate Oceans Caucus.  The Caucus will work to increase awareness and find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts, which support millions of jobs in America and contribute more to the country’s GDP than the entire farm sector, grossing more than $230 billion in 2004.

Senator Akaka speaks at a press conference today following the first meeting of the new Senate Oceans Caucus.

Senator Akaka speaks at a press conference today following the first meeting of the new Senate Oceans Caucus.

Following today’s inaugural meeting, the members announced that U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will serve as Caucus Co-Chairs.  Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), as Chair and Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Senate Oceans Caucus to promote effective coordination with the subcommittee.  Other Caucus members are Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Scott Brown (R-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), John Kerry (D-MA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“I’m honored to join my colleagues today to announce the formation of the Senate Oceans Caucus,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “For coastal states like Rhode Island, our oceans are a vital part of our economy and our history, and we must take smart steps to manage and protect them as a resource for future generations.  This Caucus will work together on a bipartisan basis to help make that happen.”

“I am proud to represent both the Pacific and Arctic Ocean interests as the Senate Oceans Caucus begins our important work,” said Senator Murkowski.  “To Alaskans, our vast coastlines connect us to our farms and our factories for growth – whether it’s our bountiful fisheries or resource opportunities.  To an outlying state like Alaska, it’s also our interstate highway system for shipping, tourism and commerce.  We must make bipartisan decisions today to guard them as they help feed our future growth.”

During today’s meeting the senators adopted a founding charter which lays out the principles for the Caucus, and specifically discussed the following issues: international and domestic fisheries policy, gaps in ocean science, and challenges to ocean and coastal resource management.

“The oceans drive Alaska’s economy though commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing, tourism and international commerce,” said Senator Begich. “I welcome the formation of this caucus and its bipartisan approach to dealing with the many challenges and opportunities of our oceans.  As chair of the Oceans and Fish subcommittee I am pleased to see the Senate focus on this important resource that impacts every single one of us, and people around the globe.”

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere and Coast Guard, said “Indisputably, the health of our watersheds and oceans is inextricably linked to the sustainability of our economy in Maine and in coastal communities nationwide.  Throughout my tenure as Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, I have worked to enhance management and protection of the nation’s invaluable coastal and ocean resources.  The Senate Oceans Caucus is a major step forward in our recognition of the significant environmental and economic roles played by our oceans, and through this coordinated bipartisan effort that centralizes key priorities from all of our stakeholders and industries, our caucus has the potential to speak in a loud and unified voice on behalf of our coastal resources, yielding significant economic and environmental benefits for us all.”

“In my home state of Hawaii, we depend on the Pacific for food, shipping, recreation, and tourism,” said Senator Akaka.  “This caucus is an excellent opportunity to find common ground and drive local economies with healthy fishing, tourism, and manufacturing industries.”

“The Long Island Sound plays a central role in Connecticut’s economy and environmental landscape, and the Senate Oceans Caucus presents another opportunity to protect it. The Sound is truly a national treasure, and we must work diligently to preserve it, as we must with all of America’s coastline,” said Senator Blumenthal.  The maritime industry supports millions of jobs in Connecticut and across the country, and I look forward to working with this bipartisan caucus to protect our oceans, preserve ocean communities, and grow the industries they support.”

“Protecting our oceans is critical to California’s $23 billion coastal economy, which supports nearly 390,000 jobs in tourism, fishing and recreation,” said Senator Boxer.  “I am pleased to be part of the bipartisan Oceans Caucus, which will work to find common-sense solutions that protect our oceans and strengthen our economy and our coastal communities.”

“The ocean plays a vital role in the Massachusetts economy, from our fishing industry to our ports and harbors, and tourism – all are very important to preserving and creating jobs,” said Senator Scott Brown.  “As a founding member of the Ocean Caucus, I look forward to discussing the important impact our oceans have on our economy as well as solutions to the challenges they face in a bi-partisan and open forum.”

“For centuries, the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound have helped shape and define Washington state’s culture, people and way of living,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.  “Washington state’s coastal region has sustained entire industries for generations and today supports 162,000 jobs and generates $9.5 billion in economic activity.  In this new role, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to preserve and restore our nation’s diverse marine resources to ensure they remain vibrant and bountiful for future generations.”

“Marylanders understand the essential role that water and our oceans have in a healthy economy and healthy environment.  I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to prioritize good stewardship of American waters so that they can sustain native fish, wildlife and our coastal economies for generations,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.

“Delaware enjoys many rewards as a coastal state. Each year, millions of residents and visitors relish our pristine shores, which helps create jobs and economic activity throughout the state,” said Senator Carper. “But with those rewards come many challenges. The state’s coast line and coastal communities face serious threats from climate change and rising sea levels – threats that other coastal states face as well. The Senate Oceans Caucus will bring together Members from ocean states to discuss how to work together to sustain and improve our oceans and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood.”

“Our oceans are important not only to the health of our planet, but to the economic vitality of our states,” Senator Coons said.  “Between tourism, recreation, energy, shipping and fishing, a wide variety of industries in my home state of Delaware are dependent on the seas.  The oceans are part of who we are, and we must do all we can to protect them.  That’s why I joined the Oceans Caucus, and why I look forward to working with my colleagues in exploring ways the Senate can help protect our oceans.”

“We in Hawaii know what it means to protect the ocean.  For us, the ocean is very important.  It is our home.  We live in the middle of it.  Caring for the ocean and being good stewards of our marine ecosystem is of the utmost importance to any island community and Hawaii is no different.  We must maintain the delicate balance between mankind’s evolution and pollution free oceans where marine life can thrive.  The sea provides us with so much. It gives us food and energy to power our way of life.  Research and scientific discoveries conducted at sea shape all aspects of our daily lives.  Our beaches help drive our economy by attracting visitors to Hawaii’s shores from around the world.  I look forward to participating in this caucus and working with my colleagues to ensure that the world’s oceans are protected,” said Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

“The Ocean Caucus will help focus attention on everything from laws that govern the seas, affect jobs and vital industries, concern our marine ecosystems, and protect our waters off Massachusetts,” said Senator Kerry.  “I’m proud to co-found this important effort here in the Senate.”

“I am proud to join my Senate colleagues from so many different coastal states on this caucus focused on preserving the nation’s oceans.,” Sen. Landrieu said.  “These oceans and the coasts that join them are a precious resource that provide an enormous benefit to the economy.  Particularly along the Gulf Coast, which is the heart of America’s working coast, contributing $3 trillion to the national economy and 17% of the National GDP.  As a member of this caucus, I look forward to continuing my efforts to highlight the need to restore the Gulf Coast and ensure that Gulf coast states get their fair share of tax revenue collected from the oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“I am honored to add my voice to this bipartisan caucus,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Healthy oceans and coastlines lead to sustainable, family wage jobs and the beautiful natural environment that we enjoy in Washington state. This caucus will ensure we have the opportunity to discuss these very important issues.”

The Senators were joined today by representatives from ocean and coastal organizations supporting their efforts, including the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the National Federation of Regional Associations for Coastal and Ocean Observing (NFRA), and Ocean Champions.

“Big, Hairy, Audacious Ideas for a Hawai‘i Food Revolution Public Forum”

Kanu Hawai‘i continues Eat Local Challenge 2011 with the forum “Big, Hairy, Audacious Ideas for a Hawai‘i Food Revolution.” The event is a collaboration of the Hawai‘i Food Policy Council, Kanu Hawai‘i, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation, The Kaiser Permanente Foundation and The Culinary Arts Department of Kapi‘olani Community College.

Kanu Hawaii Eat Local Challenge
The forum will bring food system representatives and members of the community together to work towards a more sustainable, affordable and accessible food system in Hawai‘i.

Speakers include:
Mark Noguchi, chef & partner, He‘eia Pier General Store & Deli
Lisa Asagi, co-founder of She Grows Food and co-manager of O‘ahu farmers markets for Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation
Ed Kenny, chef/owner, Town/Downtown Restaurants
Kamuela Enos, director of Social Enterprise, Kauhale
Dexter Kishida, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation, Āina In Schools Program
Ashley Lukens, Department of Political Science, U.H. Manoa

When: Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011, 5:30-8 p.m.
Where: Kapi‘olani Community College Cafeteria, 4303 Diamond Head Rd., Honolulu,

Local fare and beverages will be provided. This event is free. Registration is required at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dGM5ZkhvbE9hRXlfNU1OY1k4UVhuZ1E6MA. Deadline to register is Monday, September 19, 2011.

Kanu invites people to make a commitment online to take action in support of a healthy, sustainable, secure local food system. Recipes, guides and deals from Eat Local Challenge 2011 restaurants and market partners are available on Kanu’s website to support commitments. To take part in the Eat Local Challenge, Kanu Hawai‘i suggests making a commitment at www.kanuhawaii.org/eatlocal

A schedule of Eat Local Challenge 2011 events are detailed online: http://kanu.me/ELCevents

Founded in 2007, Kanu Hawaii is a nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage and support environmental and social change. Its 14,000+ members make individual commitments as simple as I will take shorter showers or I will buy local.  To make a commitment and help grow the movement, go to www.kanuhawaii.org.

Hawaii-Okinawa Ocean Thermal Experts Talk Story

U.S. and Okinawan technical, environmental and financial specialists in ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) swapped knowledge during a two-day Ocean Energy Workshop at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) facility.

The goal of the workshop, which ended today (Monday, Sept. 12), was to move OTEC further toward commercialization.  Okinawa and Hawaii share a common problem—over reliance on fossil fuels—but also share a common asset in access to big temperature differences between surface and deep ocean waters.

OTEC, which was tested here in the late 1970s and found feasible by the U.S. government, uses these temperature differences to generate electricity.  It is an expensive system to build, but can produce power for a band of subtropical and tropical areas around the globe.  Cheap oil prevented alternatives such as OTEC from reaching commercialization.

“Our workshop sought to advance effective OTEC systems that can be demonstrated in both Hawaii and Okinawa by sharing technical, environmental and financial challenges,” said Guy Toyama of Friends of NELHA, which organized the workshop.  “The Hawaii-Okinawa Task Force was formed as part of the U.S.-Japan Clean Energy Action Plan in 2009, and we’ve been working together since then.”

Mayor Choukou Taira

Mayor Choukou Taira

Okinawa, like Hawaii, is a long way from its nation’s mainland and Kumejima Island is at the most distant point.  Both already use deep water pipes to support industry, such as aquaculture and water desalination.  “The next steps are farming and energy,” said Kumejima Mayor Choukou Taira.  In a ceremony surrounded by Hawaiian culture, Taira and Hawai‘i Island Mayor William Kenoi inked a sister city agreement during the workshop.

The technical specialists debated whether a demonstration or pilot plant should be built, or if incremental research and development steps would be more politically and technically feasible.  The workshop participants debated that if a pilot plant were built, should it be the proposed 1megawatt size or something smaller.  Commercial plants are expected to be at least 25 megawatts, with plans on the drawing board for 100 MW and located offshore.

Saga University in Japan is conducting extensive OTEC research and seeks to work with Hawaii to develop next stage facilities in Kumejima and NELHA.
Breakout sessions outlined the following challenges and considerations.

Environmental aspects that need to be considered for onshore, the team decided:
Interruption or change of habitats, cultural issues, visual issues, assessment of deep-water nutrient impact, thermal issues and entrainment of organisms in the uptake pipe.  Offshore issues—cable impacts, acoustic, visual and navigational impacts.

Technical considerations:  No technical barriers to a 1 MW plant, but there are political ones including protecting downstream tenants from contamination.

Financial considerations for a 1 MW plant could include seeking support from the U.S. Department of Defense, a bilateral project with Japan/U.S.; or organizations like Blue Revolution Hawaii becoming a fundraiser.

Policy considerations: Need for healthy competition in the OTEC field; testing as large a scale as possible at NELHA should be entertained.

Workshops between the two countries will continue as part of the Task Force.