Department of Health Now in Charge of Medical Marijuana – Rules Change

The Hawaii State Department of Health has completed the transfer of the medical marijuana registration program from the Department of Public Safety. The program officially became part of the Department of Health on Jan. 1, 2015. Hawaii is one of 23 states along with the District of Columbia that allows medical marijuana use.

Possession of a valid medical marijuana registration card issued by the Department of Health and based on the written certification of a physician permits the lawful cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Act 177 was signed into law in June 2013 and authorized the transfer of the 14-year-old program to the Department of Health. As a health initiative, the medical marijuana program is better aligned with the Department of Health’s mission and the department’s experience in working with patients and health programs that involve public outreach, education and safeguarding patient privacy.

Act 178, which was also signed into law in June 2013, amends sections of the existing law. The Department of Health has made the following changes to comply with the law:

  • Law Enforcement 24/7 Online Verification – In accordance with Act 178, the Department of Health will provide 24/7 subject verification to designated law enforcement officers. Although no confidential information will be released, designated law enforcement officers will be able to verify if an individual has a valid medical marijuana registration card should the need arise for official law enforcement purposes. Designated officers are being trained by the department.
  • Registration Fee Increase -The patient medical marijuana registration fee has increased from $25 to $35 effective Jan. 1, 2015. A new, convenient online application and payment system makes the application process easier and faster. A portal administration fee of $3.50 will be charged for the required online services. “We’re working to make the medical marijuana program more accessible to Hawaii residents who may have a qualifying debilitating medical condition and could benefit from medicinal use of marijuana,” said Scottina “Scotty” Malia Ruis, medical marijuana program coordinator with the Department of Health.

The Hawaii Department of Health has also initiated a number of upgrades to the medical marijuana program:

Click to enter site

Click to enter site

  • New Medical Marijuana Website – The Department of Health has established a website with information on the medical marijuana program at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana This is the most complete and up-to-date source of information for patients, physicians, law enforcement officials and the public. The site’s home page features a sign-up box for automatic medical marijuana program updates. This is the best way to keep abreast of all improvements and changes as the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program develops.
  • Phone Information Hotline – The Department of Health has established a phone hotline with recorded messages on different aspects of the medical marijuana program. The phone number is 733-2177. Toll free numbers have also been established for neighbor island residents: Hawaii Island residents may call 974-4000, ext. 32177; Maui residents may call 984-2400, ext. 32177; and Kauai residents may call 274-3141, ext. 32177.
  • New DOH Medical Marijuana Registration Card – This month, the Department of Health began issuing its new medical marijuana registration card, which includes the location of the where the marijuana is grown and the name of the primary care physician. The new card is thin and wallet-sized like an insurance card making it easier for patients and caregivers to keep with them whenever they are in possession of medical marijuana. The new white card with a colored Department of Health logo will replace the long familiar Department of Public Safety “blue card.”
  • Physician Education – Physician outreach and information sharing through planned conference calls has been ongoing to ensure healthcare providers have accurate information about the program. Physicians who are currently certifying patients for the program are emailed information about conference calls and other updates.

Beginning Jan. 28, DOH will hold public hearings for the proposed adoption of Chapter 11-160, Hawaii Administrative Rules for Medical Use of Marijuana. This proposed new chapter will include the process for DOH to consider approval of additional debilitating medical conditions for medical use of marijuana; physician requirements to participate in the program; registration of qualifying patients and primary caregivers; monitoring and corrective action; administrative procedure; and confidentiality of information. The proposed rules are posted at http://co.doh.hawaii.gov/sites/har/admrulechange/default.aspx

Public hearings are scheduled in each county as follows.

  • Jan. 28 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Hilo, Hawaii at the State Office Building conference rooms A, B and C located at 75 Aupuni St.
  • Feb. 2 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Honolulu, Oahu at the Diamond Head Health Center room 418 located at 3627 Kilauea Ave.
  • Feb. 3 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Wailuku, Maui at the State Office Building third floor conference room located at 54 South High St.
  • Feb. 5 (10:30 a.m.-12 noon) in Lihue, Kauai at the State Office Building basement room located at 3060 Eiwa St.

Requests or questions related to the upcoming public hearings may be sent to medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov

Master Food Preserver Trainings Set for Kona, Hilo

The Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers (HTFG) and the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) presents two food preservation trainings this spring.

Ken Love and his Same Canoe Lifetime Achievement Award from the One Island Sustainable Living Center

Ken Love and his Same Canoe Lifetime Achievement Award from the One Island Sustainable Living Center

Taught by Master Food Preserver Ken Love, executive director of HTFG and the Hawaii Master Food Preserver Program, the 64-hour training session is targeted to individuals looking to expand their knowledge of safe, home food preservation—plus learn the business side of selling syrups, preserves and sauces. Learn the steps for canning fruit and vegetables, plus pickling, fermenting and more.

Participants must be able to commit to an eight-day training and volunteer at least 20 hours in a year. Graduates earn a master food preserver certificate from UH-Hilo.

Kona dates are February 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 23 and 24 at the classroom/kitchen at 81-6393 Mamalahoa Hwy. in Kealakekua. Applications are due January 28. Hilo dates are March 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 23 and 24 at the Komohana Research and Extension Center, 875 Komohana St. Applications are due February 16.

“The training is designed to teach small agribusinesses and local residents how to safely preserve delicious and attractive, value-added products from underutilized produce,” explains Love, who is certified to teach the course by the University of California Master Food Preserver program. “It’s like the old adage, ‘Waste not, want not.’”

Tuition is $100. Apply by contacting CCECS 808-974-7664 or ccecs@hawaii.edu.

The classes are made possible by a grant from the Hawaii Department of Labor Workforce Development Division.

Nominations Sought For The Hawaii Big Tree Competition

The holiday season marks the beginning of the annual Hawaii Big Tree Competition.  Sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, the program focuses attention on the largest trees in each species, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program.  Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a champion.

Big Tree

The 10 current Hawai‘i champions are listed below. To replace a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points.  Total Points = Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + ¼ Average Crown Spread (feet).

  • Niu (Cocos nucifera) in Hawea Heiau Complex and Keawawa Wetland, O‘ahu
    (Circumference: 13.5) (Height: 112) (Crown Spread: 16.42)
  • Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa Dry Forest, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 186.96) (Height: 40) (Crown Spread: 43.50)
  • Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island  (Circumference: 204.52) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 42.58)
  • Pāpalakēpau (Pisonia brunoniana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 52.46) (Height: 28) (Crown Spread: 15.25)
  • Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 165) (Height: 24) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 85.14) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 343) (Height: 115) (Crown Spread: 93)
  • Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 110) (Height: 20) (Crown Spread: 25)
  • A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa) in Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 23) (Height: 17) (Crown Spread: 16)
  • Mānele (Sophora chrysophylla) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 30) (Height: 73) (Crown Spread: 57)

To nominate a tree, contact Hawai‘i Big Tree coordinator Kylee Ah Choy at (808) 587-0164 and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread.  Also, please know your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

Big Tree Madness 1 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

For more on the Hawaii Big Tree Program: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/
For more on the National Big Tree Program: www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/

HELCO Cancels Hilo Arbor Day Tree Giveaway Due to Unavailability of Plants

Hawaii Electric Light regrets to inform the community that the Arbor Day Tree Giveaway scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 8, at its office in Hilo has been postponed due to the unavailability of plants.

My son assisting last year at Amy Greenwell's.

My son assisting last year at Amy Greenwell’s.

In West Hawai‘i, the Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook will hold a three-day Arbor Day Celebration from Nov. 7-9. A limited number of trees will be distributed across the three days from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. while supplies last.

The company apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

New USGS Maps Released – Where the Lava Flow is Now

This small-scale map shows the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone on September 12, 2014.

The area of the flow on September 10, 2014, at 2:45 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on September 12 at 12:30 PM is shown in red. The front of the active flow was 14.9 km (9.3 miles; straight-line distance) from the vent and 0.17 km (0.1 miles) from the east boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) is 17.1 km (10.6 miles). The flow was advancing toward the northeast. The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM). For an explanation of down-slope path calculations, see: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/. All older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray. Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the digital elevation model (DEM) perfectly represents the earth’s surface. But, DEMs are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions. The purple arrow shows a short term projection of flow direction based on the flow behavior over the past several days and the local topography. (see large map)

Large-scale map of Kīlauea’s ERZ flow field

This large-scale map shows the distal part of the June 27th flow in relation to nearby Puna communities. The black dots mark the flow front on specific dates. The latitude and longitude of the flow front on September 12 was 19.46388/-154.98343 (Decimal degrees; WGS84). The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM; for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the digital elevation model (DEM) perfectly represents the earth’s surface. But, DEMs are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions. The purple arrow shows a short term projection of flow direction based on the flow behavior over the past several days and the local topography. (see large map)

Shaded-relief map of East Rift Zone near flow front

This shaded-relief map, with digital surface data provided by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, shows some of the cracks, faults, and grabens (down-dropped blocks between adjacent faults; http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/glossary/?term=graben) that are present in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone, and which have partly controlled the June 27th flow’s advance direction. The June 27th flow as of September 10, 2014, at 2:45 PM is shown in pink, while flow advance since then (as of ~12:30 PM on September 12) is shown in red. At the time of the mapping, the flow was advancing toward the northeast. (see large map)

Albizia Tree Presentation at UH Hilo

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Faculty Congress and the College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) invite the public to a free presentation on the invasive Albizia trees. The presentation will be held on Wednesday, September 17, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 100.

Workers clear Albizia trees from a road following Hurricane Iselle.

Workers clear Albizia trees from a road following Hurricane Iselle.

“The fast-growing Albizia trees have had a serious ecological impact on native forests,” said Springer Kaye, Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) Manager. “They also pose a real and immediate threat to the public’s safety and welfare as we saw in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle.”

Kaye and Dr. Flint Hughes, research ecologist, of the USDA Forest Service Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry, will discuss community-based efforts involving State and local agencies, lawmakers, Hawai’i Electric Light Company, and other stakeholders to remove hazardous trees, and deploy field staff and volunteers to manage non-hazardous trees. Other topics of discussion include lessons learned and future steps to achieve long-term hazard mitigation.

Parking on the UH Hilo campus is free after 4 p.m. A map of the campus can be found online at http://hilo.hawaii.edu/uhh/maps.php.

For more information, call 974-7664 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu. For disability accommodations, call (808) 974-7664 (V) or (808) 932-7002 (TTY).

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force Announces Updated Report on Policies and Procdures

UDATE: The meeting will not be open for public testimony.

The Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has announced the release of a newly updated report on the policies and procedures for access, distribution, security, and other relevant issues related to the medical use of marijuana in Hawaii. The report was produced by the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and updates findings released in an earlier report first published in August 2009.

Medical Marijuana

In 2000, the Hawaii State Legislature passed a law enabling the use of medical marijuana by qualified individuals. However, the law did not provide these individuals with a legal method of obtaining marijuana—making it illegal for patients and caregivers to get medical marijuana for legitimate use.

This year the Legislature passed HCR48, establishing under the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Public Policy Center, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force to develop recommendations to establish a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana.

The updated LRB report highlights glaring uncertainties within Hawaii’s medical marijuana program in regards to the access and transportation of medical marijuana. The program currently only allows qualifying patients to use medical marijuana, but does not provide them with any method to obtain it other than for them to grow a limited amount on their own. However, the sale of marijuana—including seeds for cultivation—remains illegal under state law.  As a result qualifying patients who suffer from cancer or other debilitating diseases are unable to legally acquire medical marijuana to find relief and improve the quality of their lives.

Additionally, it is uncertain whether or to what extent a qualifying patient or caregiver may transport medical marijuana anywhere outside the home on the same island, or island to island, without violating state drug enforcement laws.

“It has been over a decade since Hawaii took the historic step of legalizing medical marijuana to better the lives our residents. But as we have learned throughout the years and once again validated by the report, issues still exist with the program that need to be addressed,” said House Health Chair Della Au Belatti. “The task force is working towards improving our medical cannabis system with the goal of facilitating access for patients through a legal dispensary system or other means.”

The Dispensary System Task Force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation to the 2015 Legislature.

On Tuesday, September 9, from 9:00 – 11:00 am at the Hawaii State Capitol, Room 325, the Dispensary Task Force will be briefed by the Legislative Reference Bureau on its 2014 report.

Public hearings on Hawaii Island and Oahu have been scheduled by the Task Force to obtain public testimony on issues and concerns regarding dispensaries in Hawaii and any input on the updated Legislative Reference Bureau report.  These public hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Hawaii Island (Hilo): Wednesday, September 10th at 5:00 pm. Aupuni Center.
  • Oahu: Wednesday, September 24th at 5:00 pm. Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium.

The updated report and more information on the Dispensary Task Force is available online at http://www.publicpolicycenter.hawaii.edu/projects-programs/hcr48.html

Taste of the Hawaiian Range Opens One Hour Earlier

Fresh and nutritious Hawai’i Island food and the people who produce it are the stars of Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Friday, Sept. 26 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village.

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is one of my sons favorite events!

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range is one of my sons favorite events!

This year’s annual event that promotes agricultural sustainability is 5-8 p.m. to offer an extra hour for grazing among tasty culinary stations, food producer booths and agricultural-themed displays. The fun sprawls both inside the Hilton’s recently renovated ballroom and outside on the scenic Lagoon Lanai.

Pre-sale tickets are available at a dozen islandwide locations and online for $45 through September 25; they are $60 on event day. Details: www.TasteoftheHawaiianRange.com.

New this year, seven of the 30 culinary stations will showcase a chef using local products from a specific rancher and farmer out on the Lagoon Lanai. These stations will identify those who contributed to the dish for attendees, as well as the meat cut used. In addition, participating ranchers and farmers are also invited to talk story with attendees at each station. Event chair Jeri Moniz says the purpose for the pairings “is to foster more communication between food producers and chefs,” one of the event’s goals.

Doesn't this look good?

Doesn’t this look good?

Each Taste chef is assigned to prepare a whopping 100 pounds of a specific cut of pasture-raised beef—or locally sourced pork, lamb, mutton, goat or USDA-inspected wild boar—and the result is a festive adventure of tasting everything from tongue to tail. All the beef cuts are utilized so chefs and attendees can get acquainted with not-so-familiar cuts while having fun. The pasture-raised beef is sourced from local, humanely raised cattle that are free of antibiotics and hormones.

In addition to “grazing” on prepared top round or Rocky Mountain Oysters—aka bull’s testicles—attendees can taste samples at local food product booths and view compelling educational displays on sustainability and agriculture.

Those wanting to learn first-hand how to use and prepare 100 percent pasture-raised beef can attend the event’s annual Pasture-Raised Beef Cooking 101 culinary demonstration. This year’s guest presenter is Peter Abarcar Jr, executive chef of the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, who is preparing Chinese Style Oxtail with Radish and Salt Fish Fried Rice plus Grass-Fed Chuck Steak Pipikaula with “Killachurri” Sauce The 3 p.m. presentation includes sampling and is $10; tix available online or at the door.

Also open to the public is a free 1:30 p.m. seminar, “A Primer on Local Beef” by local livestock extension agent and long-time researcher, Glen Fukumoto. “A Primer on Local Beef” will delve into the history of the beef industry in Hawai‘i and look at the product’s supply and demand issues. Fukumoto will also examine meat quality for the grass-finished market through the years, based on his 30 years of research.

Hawai‘i residents eager to savor the flavors of fresh, local cuisine can take advantage of Hilton Waikoloa Village’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range Package with rates starting at $239 + tax per room on Friday, September 26, 2014. The kama’aina special includes two tickets to the Taste of the Hawaiian Range. Guests must show valid Hawai‘i State ID at checkin and must have Hawai‘i address in reservation. Pre- and post-event hotel accommodations start at $149 per room, per night, based on availability. To book the exclusive package, (code TSH), visit www.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com/kamaaina, or call 1-800-HILTONS.

Watch for ticket giveaways on Facebook at Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Twitter #TasteHI.

A free parking and shuttle service to Taste is available from ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay noon-10 p.m. For general event information, phone (808) 969-8228.

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range and Agriculture Festival provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. The premiere ag-tourism event is a partnership between CTAHR, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Kulana Foods, UH-Hilo CAFNRM, County of Hawaii Dept. on Environmental Management and community volunteers. Sponsorship also includes the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Hawaii County Research and Development, Hawaii Community College Food Service & Culinary Program, KTA SuperStores, West Hawaii Today, KBIG, KAPA and Native FM. The quality and growth of this event are rooted in small business participation, sponsorship and in-kind donations. For more information, visit http://www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com.

Senator Schatz Announces USDA Designation of Hawaii County as Natural Disaster Area

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Hawai‘i County as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by wind, rain, and flooding from Tropical Storm Iselle. After a review of the Hawai‘i County Loss Assessment Reports, the USDA determined that there were sufficient agricultural production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“Many farmers in Puna are still recovering after suffering devastating crop loss due to Tropical Storm Iselle and they need our help,” Senator Schatz said. “I thank USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack for reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports and for issuing a Secretarial natural disaster designation for Hawai‘i County. Support from the USDA will help ensure that our farmers in Hawai‘i County will receive the assistance they need.”

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator.  So far, FSA has received over 100 inquiries for assistance from producers in Hawai‘i County.

EPA Awards $200,000 to Children’s Defense Fund – Will Advance Environmental Stewardship on the Big Island

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded an environmental education grant of $200,000 to the Children’s Defense Fund for their “Mauka to Makai” project designed to improve environmental education in their summer learning centers and partner schools on the Big Island.
EPA LOGOThe “Mauka to Makai” (Mountain to Sea) project will incorporate environmental themes across all core and non-core academic subjects with an emphasis on resource management and habitat restoration.

“We’re pleased to be part of an environmental education effort highlighting flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “The “Mauka to Makai” stewardship will increase the protection of Hawaiian ecosystems from threats like invasive species, climate change, and habitat loss.”

Using a combination of student learning experiences, professional development for classroom educators, and strengthened partnerships linking public schools and local environmental agencies, the project will implement an environmental education model to increase community-wide knowledge of important environmental issues and foster the skills needed to help students, educators, families and the community make decisions about environmental responsibility and stewardship. The Mauka to Makai project aims to increase environmental knowledge on the Big Island by educating more than 7,000 students, providing professional development to over 100 educators, and supporting community projects through sub-awards.

The larger goal is to make the Mauka to Makai a model program that can be replicated across the nation with local partners and national experts. The project can be replicated with a similar focus on land to water resource issues or its focus can change with geographic location to highlight the regional environmental priorities of any given area.

The EPA Environmental Education Model Grants Program supports environmental education projects that increase the public’s awareness about environmental issues and provide them with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. The EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Office received over 80 applications this year, and the Mauka to Makai project is one of two projects in the Pacific Southwest Region that received an environmental education grant.

FEMA Aid Denied to Hawaii and Iselle Victims

The State of Hawaii’s request for a major disaster declaration due to Tropical Storm Iselle was denied today by Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate. The request sought Individual Assistance for individuals and households affected by the tropical storm in early August and Hazard Mitigation funds for use in statewide projects.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014.    Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Various types of trees, including the invasive Allbizia were knocked down by the winds of hurricane Iselle as it landed on the eastern coast of Hawaii island on August 8, 2014. Photo by Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

Administrator Fugate’s denial letter states: “it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), formerly known as State Civil Defense, continues to work with federal and county officials on an application for assistance to rebuild public infrastructure.

People still in need of assistance following Iselle should call Hawaii County at (808) 935-0031 or the volunteer request line at (808) 464-3175.

The American Red Cross and the Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters continues to take donations to help those affected by Iselle. Donations can be made through the following channels:

American Red Cross (Hawaii Chapter), Phone: (808) 734-2101 http://www.redcross.org/hi/honolulu

Hawaii State Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters

Hurricane Iselle Long-Term Relief and Recovery Fund

Iselle donations may be dropped off at any American Savings Bank.

https://hivoad.communityos.org/cms/contact_hi

 

Loans Available for Farmers Suffering Storm Damage

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture yesterday approved an emergency loan program for farmers across the state who are suffering from recent storm damage.
iselle dlnr

“Our field surveys and reports from farmers indicate significant damage to not only crops, but to some facilities and farm infrastructure,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The emergency loan program will provide assistance to get the farms back into production as soon as possible.”

Eligible farmers may now apply for emergency loans of up to $100,000 at 3 percent interest.  Loans of $50,000 or less will not require credit denials from other financial institutions, which would normally be required for agricultural loans. The board also waived the three-year residency requirements normally required for agricultural loans.

The board also authorized state loan officers to modify or waive collateral requirements, as deemed necessary, on a case-by-case basis. Loan applications for emergency loans relating to this storm event will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2014.

Farmers suffering damage throughout the state should contact their nearest HDOA office:

  • Hilo – 933-9975 and 933-9977
  • Kona – 323-7591
  • Maui – 984-2400, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Molokai – 1-800-468-4644, extension 39460 (Toll Free)
  • Oahu – 973-9460
  • Kauai – 241-3141, extension 39460 (Toll Free)

For more information on agricultural loans, call the Agricultural Loan Division at 973-9460 or go the division’s webpage:  http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/agl/

U.S. Court Overturns Law Limiting Biotech Crops on Kauai

A group of global biotech crop companies won a court victory on Monday that blocks enactment of a law passed last year limiting the planting of biotech crops and use of pesticides on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii ruled that the law passed in November by local leaders on the island was invalid because it was pre-empted by Hawaii state law.

The Kauai law required large agricultural companies to disclose pesticide use and genetically modified (GMO) crop plantings while establishing buffer zones around schools, homes and hospitals to protect people from exposure to pesticides used on the crops…

More Here: U.S. court overturns law limiting biotech crops on Hawaiian island

 

Gov. Abercrombie Signs Formal Request for Presidential Disaster Declaration

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle, which impacted Hawaii from Aug. 7 to 9, 2014.

Shaka For HELCOThe request seeks Individual Assistance for Hawaii County. Individual Assistance would make additional funding, loans and services available to affected residents.

For updates on Iselle recovery efforts, visit the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency website at: scd.hawaii.gov

Video – Hurricane Iselle Damage & Recovery in Puna, Hawaii

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Iselle devastated Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii on August 7, 2014.

Fragile invasive albizia trees shattered, downing utility lines and blocking major roads.

Falling Branches

The storm surge at Kapoho flooded and demolished homes. The community immediately started to pitch in with food, water, and ice. The government efficiently organized resources, and cleared roads and beach parks and HELCO is working overtime to get electricity back to folks systematically.

Much mahalos to everyone for your aloha spirit during this challenging time. Imua!

Leaders Begin Process of Developing Hazard Mitigation Plan for Albizia on the Big Island

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today.  Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Senator Brian Schatz is back in Puna today. Earlier he could be spotted handing out supplies to Hurricane Iselle victims at the Nanawale Longhouse.

Agreement was reached by all parties that all levels of government share responsibility for dealing with the hazard that these trees pose, and that the federal, state, and county government would provide financial and other resources towards this mitigation plan. HELCO also agreed, subject to approval by the PUC, to participate in the hazard mitigation program.

The next steps are to assemble all key stakeholders, and develop a hazard mitigation plan with a budget, and determine cost sharing. The target timeframe is to assemble the key stakeholders, and develop a preliminary hazard mitigation plan as soon as possible.

“Albizia wreaked havoc on power infrastructure and damaged private property, and we have to work together to minimize the likelihood that this happens again. I’m thankful for Mayor Kenoi’s leadership and assistance in helping to put together the resources necessary to mitigate this problem.”

DLNR Sponsors Archaeological Violation Investigation Class

DLNR

Anyone driving by an open field on the edge of downtown Hilo recently may have spotted several dozen people gathered around holes marked with yellow flags. This was the field exercise for an Archaeological Violation Class sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD). Combining two and a half days of classroom instruction, police officers from state and federal agencies, prosecutors and archaeologists participated in the field exercise to practice and test their crime scene investigation skills. The class was taught by Archaeological Damage Investigation and Assessment, a Missoula, MT-based company.

Martin McAllister, the company’s principal and a former U.S. Forest Service archaeologist, explained that archaeological or antiquity crimes constitute a $7 billion dollar a year illegal industry in the United States. “Most members of the American public think this is a low-level, casual type of situation,”McAllister said. “Interpol, the international police force, ranks it as one of the top five crimes in money that’s made every year and certainly there are artifacts here in Hawaii that would bring hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market.”

SHPD Administrator Alan Downer added: “The most common archaeological crime in Hawaii is the looting of burial caves and historical sites. This class gives investigators and archaeologists the additional skills and knowledge to conduct thorough, scientifically sound investigations as part of a multi-prong effort that begins with awareness, followed by detection, investigation and ultimately prosecution.”

In addition to the field exercise, participants learned about the looting, collecting and trafficking network; about state and federal statues used to prosecute archaeological violation cases; and about the factors associated with archaeological crimes.

Medical Marijuana Policy Advocates Announce Series of August Events on Oahu, Hawai‘i Island

The Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i and the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (co-founders of the Medical Cannabis Coalition of Hawaii) have announced three free, public events on medical marijuana policy in August.

Medical Marijuana Meetings

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested by 8/20, walk ins welcome, space permitting. RSVP for any event to: office@acluhawaii.org or call (808) 522-5906. Neighbor Islands call toll free, 1-877-544-5906. All venues ADA-accessible, request special accommodation by 8/18.

  • Oahu, Saturday, 8/23/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” featuring Robert Jacob, Mayor of Sebastopol, CA and Executive Director of Peace in Medicine, a non-profit healing center and cannabis dispensary, and James Anthony, a former Oakland City prosecutor, now a full time attorney specialized in medical cannabis dispensary land use law. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Blaisdell Center Maui Room (second floor), 777 Ward Avenue.
  • Hilo, Sunday, 8/24/14: “Policy Perspectives on Medical Marijuana” repeats. 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., Hilo YWCA, 145 Ululani Street.
  • Kona, Friday, 8/29/14: “Medical Marijuana TalkStory”. A free form conversation among patients, caregivers, doctors and advocates conducted by staff of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii. 2pm to 4pm at the Royal Kona Resort, in the Resolution Room. 75-5852 Ali‘i Drive.

Assistance Offices for SNAP Beneficiaries on Hawaii Island

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) is opening four assistance offices for current SNAP beneficiaries on the east side of Hawaii Island.

Snap Card

BESSD representatives will be stationed at the below locations Mondays –Fridays between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, through August 22. These sites will be closed Friday, August 15 for the Admissions Day holiday. They are: Hawaiian Shores Community Center; Nanawale Estates Community Association; Leilani Estates Community Center Association; and Hawaiian Paradise Park – Church of the Nazarene

DLNR/Division of Forestry & Wildlife Crews Assist with Hurricane Clean-up

Hurricane Iselle brought down or damaged thousands of trees in Hawaii Island’s Puna District. At the request of Hawaii County, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife crews have been operating chain saws and heavy equipment to clear entire trees, large limbs and other vegetation debris from roads in the Pahoa area.

iselle dlnr

Each day, since last Saturday, 12-16 DOFAW workers have felled countless trees, mostly invasive, non-native Albizia trees on main thoroughfares and side roads. Many of these roads were blocked, trapping people on their properties when the towering Albizia trees crashed down during the tropical storm.

DLNR Chair William J. Aila, Jr., said, “Teams from all of DLNR’s divisions have been working hard, often around the clock, to assess and if necessary repair damage caused by the storm. We opened state parks, forests and other recreational facilities as quickly as possible with safety for our staff and the people of Hawaii being paramount.”

DOFAW administrator Lisa Hadway singled out the sawyers helping to reopen roads on the Big Island. “It is tough, dirty, demanding, work; none of these people complain as they know they’re helping their friends, visitors and in some cases their own families,” she said.