Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, Visits Inmates

This morning at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility in Olomana (Windward Oʻahu), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, bringing together advocates, experts, educators, health professionals, and leaders from Hawaii’s state, county, judiciary, corrections, and non-profit sectors.

They discussed the current state of Hawaii’s juvenile justice system, and how they’re working toward innovative solutions to help empower our youth, reduce recidivism, and provide service and support to our keiki, their families, and our community at-large.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard toured the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) and the Women’s Community Correctional Center, where she learned about the programs being offered and spent time with inmates. The young men at HYCF shared their hopes and plans for their futures, and the women talked about the importance of vocational training and work opportunities that will help them to succeed and support their families when their time is served and they return home.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the many problems that plague our criminal justice system. She has long advocated for common sense criminal justice reform legislation like the bipartisan SAFE Justice Act, the Sentencing Reform Act, the Smarter Sentencing Act, Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, as well as long overdue reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. She has been a vocal advocate supporting state programs like Drug Courts, Veteran Courts, the Hawaiʻi Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), and the State Juvenile Justice Hoʻopono Mamo Civil Citation Initiative.

DLNR Statement Regarding Conviction of Officer Ethan Ferguson

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has not received the record of conviction for Ethan Ferguson.  At such time this record is received and reviewed, a decision will be made on Mr. Ferguson’s job status.

KHON reported today that “A state law enforcement officer has been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager on Hawaii Island. On Wednesday, a jury found Ethan Ferguson guilty on five counts: two counts of second-degree sex assault, and three counts of fourth-degree sex assault.”

Several news organizations have asked about Ferguson’s mother in connection with this matter. Hawaii Government Employees Association President Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, had nothing to do with his hiring as a Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officer and we have no record of her being listed as a reference.

Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto

DOCARE has implemented changes to its vetting process for all new hires.  This includes extensive background and reference checks, additional evaluation and training for both officers and supervisors, and closer monitoring by supervisors.

Previously, the DLNR stated:

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement  (DOCARE) will cooperate with the Hawaii Police Department criminal investigation.

DOCARE will also conduct its own internal investigation.

Ethan Ferguson has been a Conservation and Resources Enforcement Officer (CREO) since June 27, 2013

He is still in custody and has been served with a letter of removal of police authority, and is being put on administrative leave with pay, pending adjudication.

There are 109 DOCARE officers statewide, and 27 on Hawaii Island. DLNR does criminal background checks for prospective employees.

DOCARE officers are responsible for enforcement activities of the Department. The division, with full police powers, enforces all State laws and rules involving State lands, State Parks, historic sites, forest reserves, aquatic life and wildlife areas, coastal zones, Conservation districts, State shores, as well as county ordinances involving county parks. The division also enforces laws relating to firearms, ammunition, and dangerous weapons.

“Birth Control” for Mosquitoes Targeted at Saving Unique, Imperiled Hawaiian Birds

To protect Hawaiʻi’s unique, imperiled native birds, researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi are teaming up with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to adapt a ‘birth control’ method used across the U.S. mainland to control mosquitoes. Mosquitos are a nuisance and a hazard both to people and to Hawaii’s native birds, which are in danger of extinction from decades of habitat loss, predation and diseases like avian malaria and avian pox.

Scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are taking the first steps to adapt a safe, targeted, and efficient mosquito control method known as “Incompatible Insect Technique” to reduce the population of the disease-carrying mosquitoes that harm native birds in Hawaiʻi. Incompatible Insect Technique acts like a birth control method for mosquitoes and it has already been adopted and proven successful around the country and the world to protect human health and quality of life. A similar method has been used in Hawaiʻi for decades to control fruit fly pests which are harmful to local agricultural products.

Mosquitoes arrived in Hawai‘i accidentally in the 1800s and are one reason why about two dozen species of Hawai‘i’s remaining native birds are threatened or on the brink of extinction. Today, most of these birds survive at higher elevations where it’s too cold for mosquitoes. But as the climate changes, mosquitoes are moving up hill and bringing disease with them.

“We are already seeing the loss on Kauaʻi of the safe havens of higher elevation forests for our native birds. Mosquito-spread diseases are decimating bird populations and if we do nothing we could lose several more species in the next 10 years,” said Cynthia King, an entomologist with DLNR/DOFAW.

Just one of the 6 types of mosquitoes found in Hawaiʻi harms native birds – the one called Culex quinquefasciatus. Scientists and conservationists are working together to use a bacteria that is naturally-occuring in fruit flies in Hawaiʻi. It is called Wolbachia, and the research, which will be done in controlled laboratory settings, involves giving the male mosquitoes a different strain of Wolbachia than is normally found in them, to prevent them from producing offspring. To reproduce, most mosquitoes carry a type of this Wolbachia in their system. When male mosquitoes with the different strain of Wolbachia try to mate with females, there are no offspring.

“The process for mosquitoes is very similar to techniques that have been used for many decades in Hawaiʻi to control pest fruit flies for the benefit of agriculture,” said King. “It doesn’t eradicate the insect, but helps to safely reduce the population on a landscape scale without the use of pesticides and without harming any other species.”

The technique will not impact the other five mosquito species present in Hawaiʻi, though researchers hope to learn more in the process about control methods that could be applied to the mosquito species that affect human health. If tests are successful, the team will evaluate how to safely apply this method to Hawaiʻi’s remote native forests where birds still reside.

DLNR and its partners will also continue to evaluate other control options to expand tools available to control mosquitoes in Hawaiʻi.

Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair said, “Controlling mosquito populations will greatly benefit our endangered native birds. Mosquitos have only been here for about 200 years, and our native wildlife has evolved without them over millions of years. While some native species may eat small amounts of mosquitoes, there are no species that depend on them, as even bats are documented to prefer larger prey. Reducing mosquitos is good for nature and people in Hawaiʻi.”

Next Step Taken in Potential Recovery For Rescued Pueo

The cargo handlers at Hawaiian Airlines, like anyone else who spotted it, thought a dog or a cat was in the carrier that arrived at Honolulu International Airport for shipping yesterday morning.  Inside this particular crate was a pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, that made headlines across the state recently after a seven-year-old Oahu girl, her father, and another man rescued it from the side of a road.  DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) biologists and the veterinarian, who first treated the bird’s broken wing, believe it likely flew into some sort of line.

Yesterday DOFAW biologists Afsheen Siddiqi and Jason Omick transported the injured pueo to the airport, to be loaded on a Hawaiian Airlines jet for the short-hop to Kona on Hawai‘i island.There, staff from the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center met it to begin its rehabilitation and physical therapy.  Siddiqi said, “At the moment the pueo is stable and it is more active than it was when it originally came in.  It is still receiving pain medications for its broken wing.” She explains the rehab experts will determine whether the bird can be released back into the wild.  If that doesn’t happen it could be sent to a zoo for educational display or in the worst case it could be put to sleep. That would happen if the pueo continued to need pain medications because its wing did not heal properly. No one wants the pueo to suffer indefinitely. Siddiqi believes its prognosis will be clearer in 2-3 weeks.

7-year-old Malia Rillamas spotted the bird sitting on the side of a North Shore highway on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2017. She asked her dad Jonathan, to pull over.  Then another man, Brian Smith stopped and for the next 2 hours the trio watched over it, until an officer from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) arrived to take it to Aloha Animal Hospital. For their efforts the Rillamas’ and Smith were presented with DLNR’s first-ever “Citizen Conservationist” awards. Young Malia became the toast of her classmates and asked if she could name the Pueo? DLNR/DOFAW biologists said sure, and she named it “Sunshine,” or Pa ‘ana a ka la.

Due to their declining population the pueo is classified as endangered by the DLNR on O‘ahu only. The species is also protected statewide by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Pueo Resued Follow Up Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

EPA Conducting Pesticide Poisoning Training in Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced upcoming trainings for health care workers on how to recognize and treat pesticide poisonings. The classes will be conducted by the Migrant Clinicians Network, with co-sponsors Hawaii Department of Health, the Hawaii Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, with funding from the EPA.

“Quick and accurate identification of pesticide poisoning is important to provide immediate patient care,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These workshops will provide health care workers with the tools they need in such critical situations.”

The trainings are accredited courses that will focus on key decision points in the diagnosis of pesticide exposures and will highlight the usefulness of the EPA publication, “Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, 6th edition”. Copies will be provided to all participants. Through interactive case studies, this training will illustrate effective recognition and treatment of patients who may have been exposed to pesticides.

“The Department of Health is grateful for the partnerships that came together to bring this specialized medical training to the healthcare communities on Kauai and Oahu,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “We urge health care professionals to take advantage of this important learning opportunity, and expect to see more offered in this area.”

The classes will be held:

Kauai – March 6, at 9:30 am and 1 pm at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, 4643 Waimea Canyon Drive, Waimea, HI, Conference Room AB. For more information and registration on the Kauai classes please contact Julie Sommers, (808) 338-9474 – jsommers@hhsc.org or Cheryl Tennberg, ctennberg@hhsc.org

Oahu – March 7, at 9:30 am at the AFFES Building, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 5th floor Conference Room. For more information and registration on the Oahu class please contact Amy K. Liebman, (512) 579-4535, aliebman@migrantclinician.org or Fenix Grange, (808) 586-4248, fenix.grange@doh.hawaii.gov

Heroes in the Fight Against Invasive Species Honored

Hawaii’s 5th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) starts today with a series of volunteer opportunities, and will end with a ceremony in Governor David Ige’s office to recognize people and organizations who’ve been instrumental in the fight against invasive species.

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” Events included a proclamation from Governor Ige, an awards ceremony, a student video contest, community presentations, and numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the state.

Volunteer Opportunities

As part of HISAW, partner organizations around the state are hosting volunteer opportunities for the public to help protect Hawaii from invasive species. This is a great chance to meet people working in conservation and learn about invasive species management. Full event details and contact information are available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/. Please RSVP to reserve a spot!

Kauai

  • February 25, 8-10am: beach cleanup and invasive species removal at Kahili Beach Preserve, organized by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
  • February 25, 9-10am: Plant Pono workshop, organized by Kauai Nursery and Landscaping, Inc, and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • February 28, 9am-12pm: Weed control and wetland restoration at Huleia Wetland, organized by Malama Huleia and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • March 2, 8:30am: Invasive weed control in Kokee State Park with the Kokee Resource Conservation Program and the Kauai Invasiv Species Commitee

Oahu

  • February 26, 9am-12pm: Invasive algae workday in Maunalua Bay, organized by Malama Maunalua and Pono Pacific
  • February 27, 9am-3pm: Trailwork and fencing at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, organized by the Oahu Native Ecosystem Protection and Management Program, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
  • February 28, 8:30am-5pm: Invasive weed control on Mt Kaala with the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program
  • February 28: Invasive weed control in Waikane Valley, with the Ohulehule Forest Conservancy

Hawaii Island

  • March 1, 9am: Albizia control training and workday in Hawaiian Paradise Park, Puna. Organized by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee
  • March 1, 5:30-8pm: Little Fire Ant Management Workshop in Kona, by the Hawaii Ant Lab and the County of Hawaii

2017 HISAW Awards

 

COMMUNITY HERO

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes The Pacific American Foundation for their efforts to reduce invasive species impacts to the Waikalua Loko I’a. During 2016, the Pacific American Foundation (PAF) diligently worked to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species to the Waikalua fishpond. By positively engaging with the local community, the PAF has shown an outstanding commitment to the continued to protection and preservation this historic community resource.

BUSINESS LEADER

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Serina Marchi, of Seascapes Nursery for her efforts to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive species. Serina is the Owner of Kauai Seascapes Nursery on the North Shore of Kauai. Seascapes Nursery is a family owned business operating on Kauai for over 30 years and is one of the largest nurseries on the island. Serina has shown a very strong interest in helping to minimize the spread and introduction of invasive species by supporting Kauai Invasive Species Committee’s (KISC) Pono Endorsement Program. In April 2016, Seascapes Nursery became one of the first nurseries to become endorsed. When choosing the best management practices for her business to follow, Serina has gone above and beyond the minimum requirements to become Pono Endorsed. She not only chose to immediately discontinue the sale of the Pono Endorsement Program “Black List” plants, but also the “Phase Out” list plants”. Her actions during 2016, and continued dedication to reducing the introduction and spread of invasive species will help to minimize future impacts of invasive species on Kauai.

GREATEST HIT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Solomon Champion for his efforts in stopping the spread of Miconia calvescens on Oahu. During a routine aerial survey, Solomon spotted an immature Miconia tree beneath the canopy on the leeward side of the Ko’olau Range within the Waiawa watershed. This particular individual has been identified as the farthest documented tree within an intact native forest, as well as an extension into a new watershed. By spotting this individual tree, Solomon has helped to protect the Waiawa watershed and prevent the spread of a highly invasive species.

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Shawn Baliaris for his efforts relating to reporting and stopping the spread of Mongoose on Kauai. As a proactive community member, Shawn promptly reported sighting a Mongoose on Kauai to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). His diligent action allowed for rapid response from the appropriate agencies, and clearly highlights the usefulness of the 643PEST reporting system, and how the community can personally take actions to protect Hawaii from invasive species.

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

The Hawai’i Invasive Species Council recognizes Carolyn Dillon for her outstanding community efforts and her work controlling Little Fire Ants on Hawaii Island. Throughout 2016 Carolyn has diligently worked to organize her community in a coordinated effort to combat Little Fire Ants (LFA) in her community in Holualoa, West Hawaii Island. Beginning in Late 2015, she became aware of the size of the infestation in her neighborhood and took it upon her to engage community members to treat this pest.  More recently, Carolyn has formed a LFA coalition on the Big Island consisting of members of the County Council and State Legislature, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Department of Health, the Governor’s Liaison, and the Kohala Center, with the express purpose of furthering LFA education and training, as well as mapping the West Hawaii Infestations. The coalition intends to train business owners on LFA best management practices in order to provide treatment services to homeowners. As a community organizer, Carolyn moved extremely swiftly to increase awareness and has brought many organizations to the table to work together. Her actions and continued dedication showcases the need for community involvement in the fight against invasive species.

MAUI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes the Community of Haiku Hill for their efforts to control Coqui frogs on the Island of Maui. Haiku Hill is a small a suburb of 39 properties along the border of Maliko Gulch, the site of a major infestation of coqui frogs on Maui. Over the last decade, the Haiku Hill community has transformed from a group of concerned homeowners reporting frogs to partners in coqui control. In 2016 the community truly took matters into their own hands, building tanks, purchasing sprayers, cutting back vegetation, and advocating to funders to address coqui on Maui. Residents sprayed over 1600 gallons of citric acid on their own properties, facilitated a neighborhood citric and sprayer distribution center, and spent countless hours keeping the coqui from spreading from their neighborhood. Their effort not only reduce the frog density in their community, but also helps to stop the spread of coqui to new areas.

OAHU MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Sandy Webb for her efforts to incorporate invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures Program. Sandy has encouraged her students to delve deeper into citizen science by incorporating invasive species investigations into the Youth Envisioning Sustainable Futures program (YES! Futures). http://www.yes-futures.org/about/. This interdisciplinary program she helped found with other Mililani teachers allows students to utilize the skills they develop in many of their classes to address problems in their community and build relevance into their educational experience.  For the past two years, Sandy has lead the Little Fire Ant (LFA) Hoike Activity independently in her classes; resulting in the submittal of 269 samples from the Mililani area in the past two years, with 134 samples submitted in 2016 alone. By incorporating invasive species into her teaching, Sandy has encouraged her students to students learn about relevant issues relating to invasive species impacts, and become part of the solution.

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Kawika Winter for his efforts to protect priority watershed areas and control the spread of invasive species on the island of Kauai. As part of his role as the Director of Limahuli Botanical Garden and Preserve, Kawika has played a crucial role in the protection and preservation over 1000 acres of priority watershed area on the north shore of Kauai.  In addition, Kawika aims to create a model of a functioning, 21st-century ahupua`a. This model focuses on a mountain-to-sea resource management strategy and includes both modern and traditional techniques. By incorporating landscape scale invasive species control efforts, native plant restoration, sustainable fisheries practices, and community engagement into his management practices, Kawika has demonstrated a lasting dedication to protecting and restoring key resources on the Island of Kauai.