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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Announces Closures – Thurston Lava Tube Floods

Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) and the Kahuku Unit are closed due to impacts from heavy rainfall and flash flooding. The summit of Mauna Loa remains closed to all day use and overnight camping. Closures remain in effect until it is safe to reopen.

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

A closure sign at the entrance to Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)/NPS Photo

On Friday, the floor of the lava tube was flooded with rain, and water covered the electrical conduit system. The power was shut off, but visitor access is prohibited until further notice.

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The floor of a dark Nāhuku flooded with rainwater Friday afternoon, with the power off./NPS Photo

The Kahuku Unit, which is usually open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, was closed for the day on Friday morning due to flooding and a road closure on Highway 11. Staff will reassess conditions Saturday morning, and determine if Kahuku will open for the weekend.

The National Weather Service extended the flash flood warning for Hawai‘i Island Friday afternoon through 5:15 p.m. HST.

On Thursday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa that remains in effect. Heavy rain and high winds pummeled the 13,677-foot summit, and abundant snow was visible on webcams and at sunset Thursday.

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

Rainwater ponding along the rainforest trail at Nāhuku. NPS Photo

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised during the permit process to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

“Park rangers will constantly monitor the roads and destinations within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park during this storm, and additional closures may be warranted,” said Chief Ranger John Broward.

High Winds and Heavy Snow in Hawaii – Mauna Loa Summit Closed

Due to high winds and heavy snow, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed the summit of Mauna Loa on Thursday to all day use and overnight camping until it is safe to reopen.

NPS Photo

NPS Photo

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the summit of Mauna Loa in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park early Thursday morning. Heavy rain, high winds, and a foot of snow were expected, and by afternoon, a thick blanket of snow was visible as low as 10,000 feet. Visitors at the park’s Jaggar Museum were treated periodically with views of snow-capped Mauna Loa, a novelty for many who don’t expect snow in Hawai‘i.

The summit closure is in effect above the Red Hill (Pu‘u‘ula‘ula) Cabin. Hikers can still obtain a backcountry permit to hike to and stay at Red Hill Cabin, but backcountry permits to areas above 10,000 feet are suspended and day hiking is prohibited. Hikers going to Red Hill will be advised to proceed with caution and carry appropriate gear.

In January 2014, park rangers and a helicopter pilot rescued a backcountry hiker stranded on Mauna Loa in an unexpected blizzard.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges President to Immediately Halt Dakota Access Pipeline

In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called on President Obama to immediately halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and announced plans to join thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota this weekend.

tulsi-dakota“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned the value of caring for our home, caring for our planet, and the basic principle that we are all connected in a great chain of cause and effect.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline is a threat to this great balance of life. Despite strong opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and serious concerns raised by the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other Federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers approved permits to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline without adequately consulting the tribes, and without fully evaluating the potential impacts to neighboring tribal lands, sacred sites, and their water supply. Just one spill near the tribe’s reservation could release thousands of barrels of crude oil, contaminating the tribe’s drinking water.

“The impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline is clear. Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years alone—more than any of its competitors.

“Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue that is important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. We cannot survive without it. Once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there is very little that can be done about it. This is why it is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.

“Our Founding Fathers took great inspiration from Native American forms of governance, and the democratic principles that they were founded on. Their unique form of governance was built on an agreement called the Great Law of Peace, which states that before beginning their deliberations, the council shall be obliged, and I quote, “to express their gratitude to their cousins and greet them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.”

“This recognition of our debt to the Creator and our responsibility to be responsible members of this great web of life was there from the beginning of Western democracy.

“Freedom is not a buzzword. The freedom of our Founding Fathers was not the freedom to bulldoze wherever you like.

“Our freedom is a freedom of mind, a freedom of heart, freedom to worship as we see fit, freedom from tyranny and freedom from terror. That’s the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom cultivated by America’s Native people, and the freedom the Standing Rock Sioux are now exercising.

“This weekend I’m joining thousands of veterans from across the country at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters. Together we call on President Obama to immediately halt the construction of this pipeline, respect the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and respect their right to clean water. The truth is, whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaiʻi aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.

“We can’t undo history, but we must learn lessons from the past and carry them forward—to encourage cooperation among free people, to protect the sacred, to care for the Earth and for our children, and our children’s children. What’s at stake is our shared heritage of freedom and democracy and our shared future on this Great Turtle Island, our great United States of America.”

Background: In September, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and 18 House Democrats wrote to President Barack Obama calling on the United States Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill their responsibility of holding meaningful consultation and collaboration with the Standing Rock Sioux over the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Full text of the letter is available here.

New Administrator for Plant Industry Division of Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Hawaii entomologist, John McHugh, Ph.D., has been appointed as the administrator of the Plant Industry Division of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. His duties will include overseeing the Plant Quarantine, Plant Pest Control and Pesticides Branches. The appointment is effective December 1, 2016. He succeeds Dr. Neil Reimer, who retired in
April 2016.

John McHugh, Ph.D.

John McHugh, Ph.D.

“Dr. McHugh is known for his aptitude in solving a variety of agricultural problems that affect Hawaii farmers,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “The department is truly fortunate to have his experience, expertise and dedication in helping to move agriculture forward in our state.”

Dr. McHugh received his bachelor’s degree in General Tropical Agriculture and a master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Entomology which focused on integrated pest management of the diamondback moth from Purdue University in May 1994.

He has 42 years of wide-ranging experience in agriculture as an entomologist, educator, manager and consultant and has taught at Leeward Community College and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.  He has also worked at DuPont Pioneer, Hana Hou Seed Harvest, LLC, Sumida Farm, Inc. and Crop Care Hawaii, LLC.

Dr. McHugh has been active in the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation since 1975 and served as the chair of the Environmental Stewardship Committee. He also served as a board member of the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council, as well as director and board member of the West Oahu Soil Conservation District. In addition, he served three terms as a member of the State’s Advisory Committee on Pesticides.

New Map of Lava Flow Field Shows New Flow

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of November 3 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of November 29 is shown in red.

The new flow branch east of Puʻu ʻŌʻō started from a breakout at the episode 61g vent on November 21. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow lines (dashed where uncertain) show the mapped trace of lava tubes as determined from aerial thermal imaging and ground mapping.

hvo-112916-mapThe blue lines over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō flow field are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 2013 digital elevation model (DEM), while the blue lines on the rest of the map are steepest-descent paths calculated from a 1983 DEM (for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth’s surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map can be used to infer only approximate flow paths. The base map is a partly transparent 1:24,000-scale USGS digital topographic map draped over the 1983 10-m digital elevation model (DEM).

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit Brings Together Latest Science & Policy

Lead scientists in the fight against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death on Hawaii’i Island joined Governor David Ige and other top policy makers for the first-ever Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit, today at the Hawaii’i State Capital Auditorium. Speakers provided situation reports on the disease and presented the recently completed, strategic response plan which will guide the statewide response to this dire threat to Hawaii’s most iconic tree species.

rapid-ohia-deathThe fungal disease has devastated more than 50,000 acres of native ʻōhiʻa, one of Hawaii’i’s most prized and culturally important forest trees. Understanding the disease and how to prevent or slow further spread is a top priority of the Executive Branch.  Gov. Ige, who provided the welcome and opening remarks said, “Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death” has prompted the mobilization of several state and federal agencies and is a top priority for leading researchers who are learning more about this disease as they work to stop it from spreading.”

The Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit, was open to the public, and included a presentation on the biocultural importance of ʻōhiʻa by Dr. Samuel M. ‘Ohukani‘ōhi‘a Gon III, of The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi. Dr. Gon explained that the primary cultural underpinnings of ʻōhiʻa support the notion that it is perhaps the most significantly cultural tree in Hawaii’i. He traced the cultural importance of the species as a physical manifestation of the Hawaiian deity Ku and as a tree used for weapons, tools, building, hula dancing sticks, lei, food for birds and medicines for people. It is considered the most important tree for the protection of Hawaii’i’s forest watersheds.

A panel of state and federal experts discussed and updated the latest research and management actions. Dr. Lisa Keith of the U.S. Department of Agricultural Research Service explained, “The identification of the ceratocystis fungus used to take two-four weeks to confirm in the lab.  We can now test very small samples of a tree’s DNA and determine within 24 hours if this fungus is killing it.” “Unfortunately” she continued, “there is no silver bullet (for a treatment) and the science is important for informing management decisions.”

Dr. Flint Hughes with the U.S. Forest Service Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry painted a grim picture for the future of native ʻōhiʻa forests if the disease continues unchecked.  He said, “We currently have 52, one-quarter acre monitoring plots on Hawaii’i island. These are in places where the fungus has killed trees and our data shows that 11% of the ʻōhiʻa, on average, in these plots, will die each year.  If there are 100 ʻōhiʻa in each plot, this means in about a decade all of the trees there will be dead.” In some areas the mortality has been 100%.

Dr. Gordon Bennett of the UH Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources is one of the researchers collaboratively investigating the linkage between non-native beetles and the spread of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death. He explained that these wood boring beetles are attracted to unhealthy trees and set up homes (galleries) in them.  Currently he and other researchers are looking at pest control and management strategies based on science.  Bennett said, “We’re just starting in this area.  It’s a new challenge.”

Dr. Greg Asner of Stanford University’s  Carnegie Airborne Observatory detailed the use of laser guided imaging spectroscopy to produce 3D imaging that shows the size and precise location of trees to within six inches. He explained, “We’re trying to use this technology to look ahead in time. This technology even allows us to measure 15 different chemicals in tree foliage, which is like going to a doctor for a blood test.” Data from the 3D aerial surveys conducted in January of this year is currently being analyzed and results are expected to be available around the first of the year.

Rob Hauff, a forester with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, wrapped up the morning session by revealing the newly developed Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Strategic Response Plan, which is guided by the bicultural significance of ʻōhiʻa. Hauff explained, “The goal of this plan is to provide a roadmap that conveys what the situation is and where we need to go to manage this.”  To implement the plan, it calls for funding of a little more than $10 million over the next three years for research, response, recommendations, outreach, and management strategies.

Today’s presenters were a few of the front-line researchers, forest managers and policy makers, who’ve been working since late 2014 to try and identify the cause of the disease and how it spreads.  Their findings prompted a strict state Dept. of Agriculture quarantine which restricts movement of all ʻōhiʻa wood, soil, and Metrosideros species plants and plant parts from Hawaii island to the other islands. The state also has publicized and distributed protocols to inform the general public and forest users about steps they can take to further prevent the spread of this disease (see www.rapidohiadeath.org).

Hauff and Christy Martin of the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) organized the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Summit.  Martin said, “This is the first time we’ve had all the principal players in the fight against this disease in one place, to provide background to decision-makers and the public.  People are eager to understand what’s happening to ʻōhiʻa, and what more they can do.”

Annual Closure of ‘Ama‘ama (Striped Mullet)

Spawning season is here for ‘ama‘ama (striped mullet), which puts the popular nearshore fish off-limits from December through March.  “‘Ama‘ama are about to enter their peak spawning season, which increases their vulnerability to fishing pressure,” said Bruce Anderson, DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources administrator.  “The annual winter closure is designed to help the fish reproduce successfully and protect the species from overfishing.”

amaama-striped-mullet‘Ama‘ama was one of the most important fish species in traditional Hawaiian culture.  Young fish were caught in nets along the shoreline, then raised in the many fishponds throughout the islands.  After being fattened in the fishponds, they were harvested and eaten raw with seaweed added, or wrapped in ti or ginger leaves and broiled or baked.

There are three species of mullet in Hawaiian waters, but the closed season applies only to the striped mullet ‘ama‘ama.  There are no regulations pertaining to the other two species: uouoa (sharp-nose mullet), which is native, and kanda (summer or Marquesan mullet), which is introduced.  Differences between the species can be seen at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/files/2016/11/mullet_handout_estuaries.pdf.

During the open season, the minimum size for ‘ama‘ama is 11 inches (fork length), and a bag limit of ten per day applies in Hilo Bay only.  The season will re-open April 1, 2017.

“We ask the public’s compliance with the closed season,” Anderson said. “While it’s DLNR’s job to protect our marine resources, everyone shares in the responsibility to take care of important fish species like ‘ama‘ama to ensure healthy populations into the future.”

There are two kinds of penalties, criminal and civil for seasonal violations.  The criminal penalty is a petty misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $500 per violation and/or 30 days in jail.  There is no per specimen fine.  First offense civil penalties are up to $1,000 per specimen and $1,000 per violation.

Copies of statewide fishing regulations for ‘ama‘ama and all other marine species are available in Honolulu at the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) office, 1151 Punchbowl St., Room 330, and at all neighbor island DAR offices.  Fishing regulations can also be found on the DAR website at dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar.  To report violations of fish catch size or net use, call the DLNR enforcement hotline at (808) 643-DLNR (643-3567).

New Guided Tours to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Vacationers and residents on Hawaii island now have a new way of discovering the island and the famous Kilauea Volcano with the recent debut of Kilauea Summit Adventures.

kilauea-summit-adventuresCreated by Pat Wright, founder and owner of Mauna Kea Summit Adventures (the leading activity outfit for guided tours to Mauna Kea for 30 years), Kilauea Summit Adventures offers small group excursions along the Hamakua Coast to Volcanoes National Park.

summit-adventureProfessional guides with over 50 years of combined experience share their expertise in the history, culture and geology of Hawaii island, leading guests through the diverse climates unique to the island, starting at Waipio Valley lookout, along the Hamakua Coast, including Rainbow Falls, and to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  They journey around Crater Rim Drive, getting up close to steam vents and lava tubes, with a final visit to the Jaggar Museum and Overlook which provides a panoramic view of Kilauea caldera and Halemaumau crater.

waipio-lookoutThe new operation is managed by Mike Sessions, who has been working with Pat for 10 years. Guests are shuttled in micro coach vans with huge windows for viewing and coach-style seating for comfort. The 10- to 12-hour excursion includes admission to the national park, dinner, gourmet hot beverages, drinking water, rain ponchos, umbrellas, flashlights and convenient resort pick-up points at most locations along the west side of the Big Island.

summit-adventure-2For more information on booking a reservation, restrictions, and details of the tour, visit their website kilaueasummit.com.

VIDEO: Rockfall Triggers an Explosive Event in Summit Lava Lake

Video clip captured by HVO webcam on Monday, November 28, 2016 at 11:59 a.m. shows a rockfall from the south wall of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater triggering a small explosive event in the summit lava lake.

The explosion threw spatter (fragments of molten lava) onto the rim of the crater, mostly to the west of the former visitor overlook.

hvo-112816

This area has been closed to the public since 2008 due to ongoing volcanic hazards, including explosive events like the one that happened today.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

international-space-stationIt will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, November 26 at 6:30 PM. It will be visible for approximately 5 minutes at a maximum height of 69 degrees. It will appear 11 degrees above the South Southwest part of the sky and disappear 26 degrees above the Northeast part of the sky.

Two Geothermal Well Scientific Observation Holes to be Plugged and Abandoned in Puna

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has contracted with Water Resources International, Inc. to plug and abandon two geothermal scientific wells, SOH-1 and SOH-2 located in Pahoa.

SOH - 2 (Scannned by Cheryl Ishii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics University of Hawaii at Manoa

SOH – 2 (Scannned by Cheryl Ishii, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Representatives from DLNR Engineering Division, their consultant Brown and Caldwell, and Water Resources International will attend the Puna Geothermal Ventures community meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 8, from, 6-8 p.m. at Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road, Pāhoa.  They will be available to answer any questions on the project.

Drilled in 1991 for research purposes to monitor temperature gradients down the shafts, the two wells are no longer being used by the University of Hawai‘i or DLNR for geothermal resource monitoring purposes.

Initial site clearing and preparations are now ongoing at the site of SOH-1 and by about December 12 work will begin on plugging the well and restoring the area with SOH-2 to follow in a similar manner. The project is expected to be completed in approximately 3 months. Work hours will be limited to between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The contract award amount for the plugging and abandonment of the two wells was $2,036,000.

New Lava Breakout Sends Lava South and Northeast

A breakout started from the episode 61g vent on the east flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō yesterday morning (Monday, November 21) at around 08:40 AM.

The breakout sent lava flows south and northeast, and these flows were still active as of Tuesday afternoon (November 22). This image, captured at 2:10 PM yesterday, is from a webcam on Puʻu Halulu that looks southwest toward Puʻu ʻŌʻō (background).

The light colored lava extending into the foreground is the more-active northeast branch of the breakout. This breakout poses no threat to nearby communities.

The light colored lava extending into the foreground is the more-active northeast branch of the breakout. This breakout poses no threat to nearby communities.

This photo was taken today November 23, 2016 at 1:10 PM

The flow has not progressed very far since yesterday.

The flow has not progressed very far since yesterday.

Call for Applications for the Water Security Advisory Group

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is accepting applications for membership on the Water Security Advisory Group established in Act 172, Session Laws of Hawaii 2016. The Chairperson of DLNR will review the applications and select individuals that are deemed qualified to serve on the Water Security Advisory Group per the requirements of Act 172.

hb2040Act 172 requires that members of the Water Security Advisory Group be comprised of the manager and chief engineer of the board of water supply of each county or their designee, the deputy director for water resource management of the DLNR, and the following individuals:

  1. A member with knowledge of agricultural water storage and delivery systems;
  2. A member of a private landowning entity that actively partners with a watershed partnership;
  3. A member with knowledge, experience, and expertise in the area of Hawaiian cultural practices; and
  4. A member representing a conservation organization.

The Water Security Advisory Group shall advise the DLNR on the priority of all proposals for projects or programs submitted by public or private agencies or organizations to increase water security in the State and recommend high-priority programs for the award of matching funds established through Act 172.

Water Security Advisory Group members shall serve without compensation until June 30, 2018.

Interested persons are encouraged to submit a resume, cover letter, and 3 letters of reference that outline the applicant’s qualifications to serve on the Water Security Advisory Group.

Applications and resumes should be postmarked no later than December 23, 2016 and may be sent to:

Water Security Advisory Group

Commission on Water Resource Management

1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 227

Honolulu, HI 96813

Act 172 may be viewed or downloaded at:  http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2016/bills/GM1274_.PDF

Local Nonprofit Organizations Receive Electric Vehicles

The Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) Charitable Foundation and Hawaii Electric Light Company recently donated Smart electric vehicles to three local nonprofit organizations. The vehicles and symbolic keys were presented to representatives from the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island, HOPE Services Hawaii, and the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

“At HEI, we strive to be a catalyst for a better Hawaii,” said Connie Lau, HEI president and CEO and chairman of the HEI Charitable Foundation. “The HEI Charitable Foundation is proud to partner with Hawaii Electric Light to recognize these wonderful organizations and at the same time promote the use of electric vehicles on Hawaii Island and throughout our state to help Hawaii achieve a clean energy future.”

electric-vehicle

The popularity of electric vehicles has risen in recent years as the world takes greater notice of the importance of reducing reliance on fossil fuels for transportation. They also cost less per mile than vehicles with a conventional gasoline-fueled engine, and they are good for the environment by reducing emissions and noise pollution. The donated cars are lightly-used Smart ForTwo electric vehicles with an average mileage of 4,000 miles. The cars come equipped with electric charging equipment and are valued at more than $10,000. HEI worked closely with Mercedes-Benz of Honolulu who inspected, registered, and ensured delivery of the vehicles to the nonprofit organizations.

“These deserving organizations strengthen our community by nurturing our youth, offering hope to our less fortunate, and providing our students with quality higher education,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “We know these electric vehicles can broaden their reach and support their efforts to serve our community.”

The Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island’s mission is to inspire and enable Big Island youth to be productive and responsible citizens, through quality programs in a safe and caring environment. It provides after school services for youth ages 6-17 Hilo, Keaau, Pahoa, Pahala, and Ocean View.

“In the words of our keiki when experiencing something new, fun and exciting: ‘Awesome!’ It is truly awesome to gain this environmentally-friendly resource and have an educational tool that helps us teach our lessons of sustainability, science and resource management,” said Chad Cabral, Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island chief executive officer. “What better way to let kids see how an electric vehicle works, view the electric engine components, and speak about energy efficiency concepts. We are thrilled to have this educational resource. Mahalo to the HEI Charitable Foundation and Hawaii Electric Light.”

HOPE Services Hawaii provides an array of services to the homeless. The organization envisions a world where those who face great challenges realize their value and self-worth. Programs and services include homeless outreach, residential housing programs, prison re-entry services, representative payee services, and one-stop centers. The organization plans to use the electric vehicle to transport program participants to become document-ready for housing by helping them obtain identification as well as helping them find gainful employment and comply with their legal requirements.

“We end homelessness by housing at least 270 households each year. We intentionally serve those with the deepest needs first and help at least 85% of them stay housed forever – never returning to homelessness,” said Brandee Menino, HOPE Services Hawaii chief executive officer. “We do this work because it improves the health and wellness of the people we serve, maximizes the potential of each individual and family we serve, and is economically in the best interest of the taxpayers of Hawaii to end homelessness rather than manage homelessness.”

The University of Hawaii at Hilo offers its 4,000 students a wide range of liberal arts and professional programs, as well as a number of graduate and doctoral programs. As a campus of the University of Hawaii System, its purpose is to challenge students to reach their highest level of academic achievement by inspiring learning, discovery and creativity inside and outside the classroom.

“We are thankful and honored to have been selected as one of the recipients,” said Jerry Chang, University of Hawaii at Hilo director, University Relations. “This is another step in our goal of conservation and starting an Energy Science program at UH Hilo.”

For more information about the benefits of electric vehicles, please visit www.hawaiielectriclight.com.

Senator Inouye Graduates from the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute

Senator Lorraine R. Inouye (Dist. 4 – Hilo, Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikoloa, Kona) has completed the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute’s (LEHI) course in energy policy.

Sen. Lorraine Inouye (Marc Chopin, Dean and Professor of Economics, University of Idaho and Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye)

Marc Chopin, Dean and Professor of Economics, University of Idaho and Sen. Lorraine R. Inouye

The institute is a 60-hour energy immersion executive course with the University of Idaho.  The course is designed to increase the knowledge of the energy infrastructure and delivery system to equip legislators with the latest research and data as they make future energy policy decisions.

With the 2016 class, over 200 policymakers have completed the LEHI program. Those who complete the 60-hour executive course receive a certificate from the University of Idaho in Energy Policy Planning.

Sen. Inouye is the first Hawai‘i state Senator to complete the LEHI course.

“It was an intense course, but definitely time well spent learning in-depth about our complex energy system. It’s even clearer to me now how we are all connected in ensuring our energy resources are used efficiently. It is also important that our decisions on energy are well thought out, not only for us today, but for generations to come,” said Sen. Inouye.

“It is critical that citizen legislators get this basic knowledge of how our energy systems operate. I am impressed that Sen. Inouye took over a week of her personal time this year to better equip herself to make energy policy decisions,” said Rep. Jeff Morris of Washington State, Institute Director.

The Pacific North West Economic Region (PNWER) partnered with the University of Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy to found the Institute in 2009. In 2012, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) and the federal government of Canada joined the effort to make the program nationwide and also include Canadian legislators.

December’s Centennial Events at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary throughout 2016, and continues its tradition of sharing Hawaiian culture and After Dark in the Park (ADIP) programs with the public in December.

All ADIP and Hawaiian cultural programs are free, but park entrance fees apply for programs in the park. Programs are co-sponsored by Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Mark the calendar for these upcoming events:

Hawai‘i Nei Saturday. Come “Find Your Park” in Hilo and enjoy artwork that celebrates the native plants and animals of the five national parks on Hawai‘i Island, and the human connection to these special places. The “National Parks Preserving Pilina” category celebrates the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, and features artwork from talented Hawai‘i Island artists, including a painting titled “Lava Coming to Life on the Coastal Plain,” by Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Ranger Diana Miller! Hawai‘i Nei is an annual juried art show that is not to be missed. Visit www.hawaiineiartcontest.org for more information. Free.

  • When: Sat., Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Where: Wailoa Center, 200 Piopio Street, Hilo

Gorillas, Volcanoes and World Heritage of Virunga National Park. Founded in 1925, Virunga National Park became the first national park on the continent of Africa. Join travel writer and Virunga advocate, Kimberly Krusel, as she takes us on a virtual visit to what has been called “the most biologically significant park in Africa.” Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Free.

  • When: Tues., Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kapa Making. Feel the unique texture and beautiful designs of Hawaiian bark cloth created by skilled practitioner Joni Mae Makuakāne-Jarrell. Kapa is the traditional cloth used by native Hawaiians for clothing. Kupu kapa, the skill of creating kapa, is rarely seen today and requires years of practice and labor to master. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ‘Ike Hana No‘eau “Experience the Skillful Work” workshops. Free.

  • When: Wed., Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai

After Dark in the Park: Kīlauea Military Camp, Once a Detainment Camp. Most people are unaware that Kīlauea Military Camp in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was used as a Japanese detainment camp during World War II.

Soldiers outside Building 34 in Kīlauea Military Camp during the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Kīlauea Military Camp.

Soldiers outside Building 34 in Kīlauea Military Camp during the 1940s. Photo courtesy of Kīlauea Military Camp.

Park Archeologist Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura will discuss the experience and subsequent detention of Japanese-Americans here following the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The last After Dark in the Park Centennial series presentation of 2016! Free.

  • When: Tues., Dec. 13, 2016 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Centennial Hike: Kīlauea Military Camp. Park staff will lead a revealing walk through Kīlauea Military Camp, used as a Japanese detainment camp during World War II. About an hour. Free.

  • When: Sat., Dec. 17, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Where: Meet at the flagpole at Kīlauea Military Camp

Kahuku ‘Ohana Day. Calling keiki 17 and younger and their families to journey into the past on the new Pu‘u Kahuku Trail in the Kahuku Unit in Ka‘ū. Create your own piece of Hawaiian featherwork on this day of fun and discovery. Call (808) 985-6019 to register by December 2. Bring lunch, snacks, a reusable water bottle, water sunscreen, hat, long pants and shoes. Sponsored by the park and the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association. Enter the Kahuku Unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the mauka (inland) side of Highway 11 near mile marker 70.5, and meet near the parking area. Free.

  • When: Sat., Dec. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Register by Dec. 2.
  • Where: Kahuku Unit

Find Your Park on the Big Screen: Acadia National Park. Acadia and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Parks are thousands of miles apart, but they have much in common. Both parks turned 100 this year, and both are on islands defined by their indigenous host cultures, fascinating geology, and intriguing biodiversity. Learn about Maine’s iconic national park in the new film, “A Second Century of Stewardship: Science Behind the Scenery in Acadia National Park,” by filmmaker David Shaw. Free.

  • When: Tues., Dec. 20, 2016 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Kenneth Makuakāne in Concert. Enjoy the melodies of multiple award-winning artist Kenneth Makuakāne. His accolades include 15 Nā Hōkū Hanohano awards and six Big Island Music Awards. A prolific songwriter, Kenneth’s compositions have bene recorded by artists such as The Brothers Cazimero, Nā Leo Pilimehana, and many more. Part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ ongoing Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices” presentations. Free.

  • When: Wed., Dec. 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Where: Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium

Rapid Ohia Death Kills Forest Giant and Confirms Spread to Hamakua

Twin Tests Verify Fungal Disease Killed Centuries Old Tree

From the road, in the Laupahoehoe Section of the Hilo Forest Reserve, Steve Bergfeld of the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources spots the enormous, towering, ōhiʻa tree; its thick branches now completely without leaves.  The Hawai’i Island Branch Manager for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife wants to get a close-up look at the tree, after a technician first spotted it and took samples a week ago.  Two laboratory tests have confirmed that this very old tree was killed by the fast-moving fungal infection known as Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death.

ohia-death2Across Hawai’i Island, the disease is killing trees and devastating tens of thousands of acres of native forest. First reported in the Puna District in 2010, the latest aerial surveys show that the fungus has impacted nearly 50,000 acres of forest here.

Named for the rapidity in which it kills infected trees, the loss of the 100-130 foot tall ōhiʻa in the Laupahoehoe forest, and perhaps others around it, shows the disease has spread to the island’s eastern side, along the Hamakua Coast.  Bergfeld observed, “It’s devastating to look at the forest and the damage Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death is doing to our ecosystem and our watersheds. That tree is a giant in the forest. It also supports a lot of other plant life and bird life. It was an important part of our ecosystem. These trees have been here for hundreds of years and to see them go down to a disease like this is really heartbreaking.”

ohia-death1ʻŌhiʻa trees are culturally significant and their flowers are prized for lei making. Foresters consider ōhiʻa the most important species for protecting the state’s forested watersheds for its dense canopy, where virtually all domestic water supplies originate.

That’s why a strong collaboration between state and federal government agencies and conservation organizations is actively researching the cause of the disease, potential treatments, and the establishment of quarantines and protocols to prevent further spread.

ohia-death3The identification of this diseased tree is the latest example of this cooperative effort.  The tree was spotted by a technician from the U.S. Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Island Forestry, who collected the wood samples for lab testing.  Verification of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, as the trees cause of death, was done by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo.

An entomologist from the University of Hawai’i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Extension Service also collected samples for research that suggests beetles are a primary cause for the spread of the fungus.

ohia-deathBergfeld explains the next steps involving experts from the Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death working group. “We’ll put everyone’s heads together and see what the best management strategy will be for this particular tree.  I assume, more than likely, we’ll fell the tree to get it out of the forest and cover it with tarps to keep insects from putting out frass (the powdery refuse or fragile perforated wood produced by the activity of boring insects), into the air,” he said.

Experts are very concerned that with the confirmation of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death in this tree, the disease has spread to a previously unaffected area farther up the Hamakua Coast: a forest already impacted by a 2013-2014 outbreak of the Koa looper, a native insect that defoliates entire koa trees during rare, unexplained outbreaks.
Governor David Ige, lead scientists, and policy makers engaged in the fight against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, will gather for the first-ever summit on the disease at the State Capitol on

Wednesday, November 30, 2016.  The event is open to the public and is scheduled from

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium.  More information on this to follow.

‘Alalā Doing Well in Aviary in Natural Reserve Area

The five male birds living in an aviary at the Pu’u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve on Hawai‘i island are adjusting well to their new environment according to animal care staff of the San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.  The birds were moved to the aviary in mid-October to allow them to acclimate to the sights and sounds of a Hawaiian forest.  This reserve is an area that conservationists have worked to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and represents the type of habitat ‘alalā were originally native to before they began to decline.

"Nahoa" rebuilds his perching ability in a custom-made sling.

“Nahoa” rebuilds his perching ability in a custom-made sling.

“Decades of intensive management by the State Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, in stewardship with local conservation partners, have led to the preservation of some of the most intact native-dominated wet and mesic forest on windward Hawai`i Island, known as Pu`u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve,” said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, Project Coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project.

‘Alalā are an important part of the life of the Hawaiian forest, eating and assisting with the dispersal of native plant seeds.   The reintroduction of this species, gone from the forest for more than a decade, is expected to be an important part of the overall recovery of the ecosystem.

“This reserve is the highest quality habitat and is the best place on the island of Hawai`i for the reintroduction of the ‘alalā,” said Donna Ball, Conservation Partnerships biologist, U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service.  “Pu’u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve has all the components for the survival of this species and soon it will also have the ‘alalā, a missing species of the ecosystem that has returned.”

The ‘alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global.  With more than 100 individuals of the species now preserved at the centers, conservationists are ready to put them back into their native forests.  Although it was hoped to release the birds this month, the release was unexpectedly and cautiously postponed to ensure the transmitters that will track the birds could be properly refined.

“‘Alalā are very intelligent and precocious birds and are inclined to play with and manipulate new items, so our ability to observe their behaviors closely and give them more time allows us to make adjustments to the tracking systems we will be using once they are released,” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “It is important for us to track these birds once they go out into the forest so that we can continue to support them as they explore their new home.”

Hawai’i  Dept. of Land and Natural Resources mission statement – Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawai’i nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The mission of the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office is to conserve and restore native biodiversity and ecological integrity of Pacific Island ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations through leadership, science-based management and collaborative partnerships.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Help Celebrate the ʻAlalā on Saturday in Hilo

E Hoʻolāʻau Hou ka ʻAlalā 

‘Alala are unique treasures of our Hawaiian forests, revered in Hawaiian culture. This very intelligent native bird is found nowhere else on earth. It’s been extinct in the wild for some time and is our only native crow still surviving in captivity. The DLNR ʻAlalā Project is holding a community celebration in advance of the first release of the Native Hawaiian crow back into the wild, to be scheduled in the next few weeks.

alala-celebrationWhat:   Everyone is invited to join us for the celebration of one of Hawai‘i’s most interesting native forest birds. Learn about the ʻAlalā Project, the extraordinary efforts underway to best ensure their reintroduction and survival in their native habitats, Fun for the whole ‘ohana.  Enjoy videos, keiki activities and conservation information displays and booths.

When:  Saturday, November 19th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Where: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, 76 Kamehameha Ave. in downtown Hilo.

Who:  The ʻAlalā Project is a partnership between the State of Hawaiʻi Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and San Diego Zoo Global.

PISCES Partners with UH Hilo and NASA for Simulated Human Mars Mission on Hawaii Island

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) is partnering with the University of Hawaii at Hilo and NASA this month in a ground breaking research project to prepare for an eventual manned mission to Mars.

mars-simulationThe project, called BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains), is focused on developing operation protocols for a joint human-robotic exploration of Mars in the search for extraterrestrial life. BASALT scientists and crew members are conducting simulated missions in two locations which closely resemble the Martian landscape at different areas: Mauna Ulu at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho.

Currently, the BASALT team is investigating Mauna Ulu by traversing the rugged lava terrain to collect rock samples for both biologic and geologic analysis.

“We add a twist to our scientific fieldwork by conducting it under simulated Mars mission constraints,” said Dr. Darlene Lim, geobiologist and principal investigator for the BASALT research project. “By doing so, we can evaluate operational concepts and a variety of supporting capabilities that range from software to hardware components with respect to their anticipated value for the human exploration of Mars.”

One of their constraints is a communication time delay to simulate the latency of transmissions experienced between planets. Dr. Lim and her team are hoping to develop a tricorder-like device, as envisioned in Star Trek, to be able to identify rock samples using a hand-held instrument.

The researchers hope to better understand the habitability of Mars by studying Mauna Ulu, which is a high-fidelity analog for the landscape of early Mars when volcanism and water were common.

“No one has really worked this out yet,” said John Hamilton, PISCES test logistics and education/public outreach manager. “We want to work out the kinks during these exercises so we have it together on a real mission. By the time they go to Mars, they’ll have a rock-solid plan.”

The BASALT team consists of scientists, engineers, mission operators and active astronauts. Roughly a dozen students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo are also assisting with the project. Hamilton, who is also a faculty member with the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Department of Physics and Astronomy, is serving on the BASALT Science Team, overseeing data collection, logistics, and student assignments. The research project is central to NASA’s Journey to Mars program.

“PISCES is honored to be working together with the University of Hawaii at Hilo and NASA Ames on this project,” said Rodrigo Romo, PISCES program manager. “Collaborative work with Ames has been in the frontline of applied research for PISCES recently. The fact that university students get the opportunity to participate in events like the BASALT project will help them meet the demands of a very competitive industry.”

PISCES was selected last year by NASA’s highly competitive PSTAR (Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research) program to participate in the four-year, $4.2 million BASALT project, which is being administered by the University of Hawaii at Hilo. The BASALT research team will be conducting their research on Hawaii Island until Nov. 18.

For more information visit PISCES’ website at www.pacificspacecenter.com.