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Hawaii Civil Defense Alert and King Tide Information – Dates May 26, June 23 and July 21

An observable phenomenon this weekend on shorelines and low-lying areas in Hawaii heralds the arrival of the highest ‘king tides’ of the year, that will occur over a couple days around May 26, June 23, and July 21.  The Hawaii Sea Grant Center for Coastal and Climate Science and Resilience, and Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System together at the University of Hawaii have been tracking unusual high tide levels and are advising that the state will likely continue to experience unusually high tide levels throughout the summer.

The tides are further elevated by a few unusual compounding factors that include:

  • Ocean eddies with high centers moving through the islands;
  • Global sea-level rise due to climate change
  • Wave action, including potential summer swells or storm surge.

State and County emergency managers most recently met with UH and Sea Grant climate researchers for an informational briefing on May 19 to better understand how long these potential flooding events might last and what their potential impacts may be.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) as a major coastal landowner, is concerned with possible impacts of the higher sea levels, such as:

  • Localized coastal erosion problems;
  • High-wave run-up and overwash, particularly with a south swell coinciding with high tides this weekend; and
  • Temporary ‘nuisance flooding’ in low-lying areas and storm drains.

Impacts anticipated this weekend are likely to be greatest on shorelines exposed to south swells that have experienced flooding or erosion in the past.  Flooding impacts in June and July will be greatest if king tides coincide with a high wave event, storm, and/or rain.  The high tides may back-up storm drains in low-lying coastal areas.

To help the community prepare and respond, DLNR joins with Sea Grant to recommend that landowners in low-lying shoreline areas or near waterways consider moving to higher ground any electronics, vehicles or other valuable from basements or yards.

Problems with localized flooding and increased currents around harbors could occur this weekend, particularly on south and west shores. The Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation encourages boaters to monitor their vessels to ensure mooring lines don’t get too tight, and to beware of overwash around boat ramps at high tide. Canoe clubs should secure or move canoes on the beach.  Boating officials are not anticipating any impacts to state boating facilities as the tides are not expected overtop piers.

Marine biologist Skippy Hau, with the Maui Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), says, “This weekend it’s too early in the season for turtle nesting to be impacted. The nesting season will begin in June and at that time biologists and volunteers will be monitoring the beaches for any signs of turtle nesting. Timing is critical — high tides could threaten nestlings as they emerge from the nest.”

Dr. Kim Peyton, estuaries and coastal habitat research scientist in DAR, notes that “King tides bring unusually high water levels, resulting in local flooding that can leave schools of juvenile fishes to die on roads, parking lots and other hard structures. When waves smash up against these hard structures, the deafening noise underwater can degrade habitat quality for juvenile fish in these altered estuaries.

She adds, “Under typical conditions, high tides hold back stream flow to the coast, then at low tides this wall of ocean water recedes and streams flood out into the ocean.  King tides create a bigger wall of ocean water, meaning these tides can hold back streams to a greater degree and potentially cause streams to flood their banks even without rain in the mountains. Local current patterns in streams and bays may change temporally as the sharp shoulders of the King tides raise and lower water levels.”

Shoreline fishponds could possibly experience damage from high tides combined with unusual ocean swells.

DLNR is the state coordinating agency for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in Hawaii. It’s recommended that persons with properties in low-lying that may be affected by the King Tides take mitigative actions to protect their properties (i.e. use of sandbags to protect the structure or elevating personal property). If not already covered by flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent about protecting your home or business against flooding. Keep in mind, there is a 30 day wait period for a policy to take effect so don’t delay.

The Hawaii Sea Grant Center for Coastal and Climate Science and Resilience is asking island residents to help document high water levels and related impacts through the Hawaii and Pacific Islands King Tides “Citizen Science” project by submitting photos online through the program’s smartphone app or website. For information and tide prediction charts, go to: http://ccsr.seagrant.soest.hawaii.edu/king-tides

Hawaii Civil Defense Alert for May 26, 2017:

This is an extreme high tides and high surf message for Friday, May 26th.

The National Weather Service reports unusually high tides, also known as “king tides,” may cause dangerous flooding conditions along all shores of Hawaii Island from today through the Memorial Day weekend before gradually subsiding next week.

This extreme high tide, or king tide, will be in combination with dangerous high surf caused by large southerly swells. Be aware, due to the king tides and high surf, coastal areas, beaches, low-lying roads, boat ramps and harbors may be dangerously impacted especially during the high tide periods of the afternoon and late evening hours.

These expected high surf and king tide conditions will cause higher beach run-up, flooding and erosion.

Because of these dangerous conditions, the following precautions should be taken: oceanfront residents, beachgoers and boat owners are advised to be on the alert for possible high and dangerous surf, strong currents, and beach flooding. As a precaution, you should consider canceling or suspending coastal water activities until potential dangerous hazards are over. As always, precautionary actions should be taken before nightfall.

While there are no closures of roads or beaches at this time, please be aware that these may occur without notice.

You will be informed of any changes in conditions that may affect your safety.
Thank you for listening. Have a safe day. This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

EPA Fines Oahu Farm for Pesticide and Worker Protection Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Wonder Farm, Inc. over alleged misuse of pesticides and violations of worker safety regulations at its basil farm in Waianae, Oahu. Under the agreement, the company will pay a $26,700 penalty.“Reducing pesticide exposure is a high priority for EPA. With our state partners, we’re focused on protecting agricultural workers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “All agriculture companies must follow pesticide label instructions and ensure their workers are trained properly to use, apply and work in treated areas.”

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) discovered the violations during inspections conducted between 2012 and 2015, and referred the case to EPA. Inspectors found the company out of compliance with EPA’s Worker Protection Standard, which aims to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.

The investigation found the company had failed to:

  • Provide workers with information necessary for their safety regarding pesticide applications, including the location of the treated area, the product used, active ingredients, time of application, and any restrictions to entry.
  • Ensure that its workers and handlers had received pesticide safety training.
  • Post pesticide safety information in a central location after pesticides had been applied.
  • Ensure handlers used the required protective clothing, such as waterproof gloves and eyewear.

Inspectors also found Wonder Farm had applied several pesticide products containing the active ingredients malathion, carbaryl, and dimethoate to its basil crops. Those active ingredients are not authorized for use on basil. In addition, Wonder Farm failed to follow pesticide label instructions that set the approved application and frequency rate on crops, failed to properly clean leftover, non-refillable pesticide containers, and improperly used pesticides for cleaning spray tanks. EPA regulations for pesticide labels ensure they contain critical information about how to safely and legally handle and use the pesticide products.

For information on pesticide the pesticide Worker Protection Standard, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps

For more information on pesticide labels, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-labels/introduction-pesticide-labels

“Hands Off” of Moi From June Through August

A fish with a lot of “fingers” will be hands-off starting June 1.  The season for moi, or Pacific threadfin, will be closed from June through August in Hawaii waters.

Moi is the only fish in Hawai‘i belonging to the genus Polydactylus, which is Greek for “many fingers.”  The “fingers” are actually six filaments extending from the base of each pectoral fin.  It is also one of the relatively few Hawaiian fishes to undergo sex reversal, changing from male to female by the time it reaches about 10 inches in length.

“Moi is one of Hawai‘i’s most significant fish species, from a cultural perspective,” said Bruce Anderson, administrator, Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources.  “In ancient times it was reserved only for chiefs; commoners were forbidden to eat it.  But if moi suddenly appeared in large numbers, chiefs considered it an omen of disaster.”

“Today we still value it as one of our most sought-after reef fishes,” he continued.  “The closed season helps sustain moi populations by protecting them during their critical summer spawning period.  We ask for the fishing public’s kokua in complying with the closed season, and protecting our ocean resources.”

Early Hawaiians also placed a kapu or prohibition on certain fish during their spawning season as a conservation measure.

During the open season – September through May – the minimum size for moi is 11 inches, and the bag limit for possession and/or sale is 15. However, a commercial marine dealer may possess and sell more than 15 moi during the open season with receipts issued for the purchase.

Copies of Hawai‘i’s fishing regulations are available at DLNR’s Aquatic Resources offices, most fishing supply stores, and online at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/

To report fishing violations, call 643-DLNR (3567).

Hawaii County Civil Defense Alert on King Tides

This is an extreme tides and high surf message for Wednesday, May 24th at 11:10 A.M. The National Weather Service reports unusually high tides, also known as “king tides,” may cause intermittent coastal flooding along all shores of the Hawaii Island from today through the holiday weekend.

Beach flooding and standing water on roadways and low-lying coastal areas are possible, especially during the afternoon high tides each day.

In conjunction with the unusually high tide, an incoming large south swell is expected to build on Friday and will continue through the Memorial Day weekend. The expected high surf may further affect high tide impacts resulting in additional beach run-up, flooding and erosion.

Oceanfront residents and beachgoers are advised to be on the alert for possible high and dangerous surf. As a precaution, boat owners and oceanfront residents should take actions to secure their property from possible tidal inundation and coastal flooding.

Precautionary actions should be done before tomorrow afternoon.

Thank you. This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Hu Honua Reaches Agreement with HELCO on Biomass Plant

Hu Honua Bioenergy announced today it has reached a settlement with Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) that will help put Hawaii Island closer to energy self-sufficiency.

The agreement puts its lawsuit on hold as it works with the utility to secure approval of an amended power purchase agreement (PPA) from the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

HELCO and Hu Honua have also agreed to an expedited procedural schedule that would make it possible to complete the plant by the end of 2018.

“We have come to terms with Hawaii Electric Light Company and now have a clear path, pending PUC approval, to get the plant built and operational in time to meet the federal tax credit deadline of December 31, 2018,” said Harold Robinson, president of Island BioEnergy, parent company of Hu Honua.

These developments come on the heels of a May 17 decision by the PUC to transfer review of the amended PPA to a new docket. The PUC cited several reasons for the docket transfer, including the request to consider a preferential rate in evaluating pricing, an element not considered in the 2012 docket.

In its amended PPA, HELCO requested approval of Hu Honua’s pricing based on HRS Section 269-27.3. The statute was enacted to increase energy self-sufficiency and enhance agricultural sustainability; it allows the PUC to approve preferential rates for renewable energy produced in conjunction with agricultural activities. In Hu Honua’s case, agricultural crops will be used to generate renewable biomass electricity.

“The Hu Honua project is the perfect candidate for utilizing the law,” Robinson said. “Through the cultivation and harvesting local eucalyptus trees, the project will bring a combination of agricultural benefits and renewable energy to Hawaii Island.”

If the amended PPA is approved, Hu Honua will have the capacity to provide up to 30-megawatts of firm renewable energy to HELCO’s power grid. The project will be a boost to the agricultural industry on Hawaii Island, triggering approximately 150 jobs in forestry, including logging and hauling eucalyptus trees, the primary feedstock for the biomass-to-energy facility. Ancillary jobs related to forestry and wood products are also anticipated, along with 200 construction jobs needed to complete work on the plant.

About Hu Honua

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC is located in Pepeekeo on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island. When completed, the Hu Honua facility will be able to produce up to 30-megawatts (MW) of clean renewable baseload power, which means the plant can deliver reliable power that can be dispatched 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When operating at capacity, Hu Honua will be able to produce approximately 14 percent of the island’s electricity needs and displace approximately 250,000 barrels of oil per year.

For more information visit www.huhonua.com

Hokulea Sets Sail for Hawaii and Historic Worldwide Voyage Homecoming

After 5 days in the community of Tautira – a  second home of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and legendary canoe Hokulea – the crews of Hokulea and Hikianalia bid  a warm goodbye to their Tahitian voyaging ohana and departed on the final historic leg of the Worldwide Voyage: sailing home to Hawaii.

The people of Tautira have been the Tahitian caretakers of the canoes and crews of PVS since Hokulea’s maiden voyage in 1976. Upon arrival in Tautira, the crew payed homage to the family ties so important to the shared voyaging heritage of Hawaii and Tahiti, visiting the grave sites of leaders who helped build the connection more than forty years ago.

The crews were hosted at Mayor Papa Sane’s home and welcomed as family in this voyaging community so closely held to Hawaii’s own.

The morning of Wednesday, May 17, Hokulea, sister canoe Hikianalia, and escort vessel Gershon II began the final leg of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage departing from Tahiti to head back home to Hawaii. This last, historic stretch of the sail plan is expected to take 3-4 weeks (pending weather).

The canoes will make a celebratory return to Honolulu on Saturday, June 17 at Magic Island for a cultural welcoming ceremony followed by a grand celebration open to the entire community.

The week-long celebration will continue with the Malama Honua Fair and Summit, a three-day event at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center , which will highlight the voyaging, cultural, environmental, educational, and health and well-being missions of the Worldwide Voyage by sharing malama honua “stories of hope” and voyage-inspired initiatives and activities with the public.

The event’s inspirational speaker series will feature local and global speakers who have engaged with the Voyage including: Megan Smith, 3rd chief technology officer of the United States; Dieter Paulmann, founder of Okeanos Foundation for the Sea; and Ocean Elders Sylvia Earle, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Don Walsh. Registration for these events is now open at www.hokulea.com/summit.

Mortality Thought to be Caused by Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Increases By 50% – No Evidence Fungus Has Spread to Other Islands

The most recent aerial surveys of ohia forests on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i, Moloka‘i,and Lāna‘i paint a good-news, bad-news picture. The good news is there are no confirmed cases of this fast-spreading fungal infection in ʻōhiʻa forests on any island other than the Big Island. The bad news is, the area of mortality thought to be caused by ROD has increased 50% on Hawai‘i island compared to DLNR’s previous survey in 2016.

DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) State Resource and Survey Forester Philipp LaHeala Walter explained, “Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death continues to spread at an alarming speed. It appears the original outbreaks are increasing in size and the disease is moving north along the Hamakua coast of Hawai‘i Island.” He added, “The aerial surveys we conducted across the state over the past couple of months, give us the first indications of the presence of this disease, but until we do ground surveys and sample the trees showing symptoms of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death, we can’t positively confirm it, as there are numerous diseases that can damage or kill ʻōhiʻa.”

Specially trained surveyors assessed over 82% (over 780,000 acres) of the state’s ʻōhiʻa forest for the most recent helicopter surveys. On the Big Island they spotted an additional 26,000 acres of forest where ʻōhiʻa trees had brown leaves or were devoid of leaves. That’s added to more than 48,000 acres identified in the July 2016 survey, giving Hawai‘i island a potential Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death infestation of some 75,000 acres.

Survey technology continues to become more sophisticated and survey teams on all islands are using standardized methodologies both from the air and on the ground in follow-up confirmation surveys. The state legislature has provided $1.5 million dollars for the next two fiscal years for the continuation of surveys and other Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death initiatives to try and identify its cause and stop its spread. DOFAW Protection Forester Rob Hauff said, “The quarantine imposed by the State Dept. of Agriculture, on the movement of ʻōhiʻa wood and plant materials between islands, is helping prevent the spread of this fungal disease off of Hawai‘i Island. We continue to encourage everyone to become aware of the quarantine rules and to practice the appropriate protocols when working or playing in any of Hawai‘i’s forests.”

Rapid Ohia Death Statewide Survey Results from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Maps of Cesspools on Hawaii Island and Hilo – 90,000 Banned Statewide By 2050

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency required the County of Hawaii to close 7 large cesspools here on the Big Island of Hawai.

Hawaii House Bill 1244 has passed and is headed to Governor Ige to sign into law.

Cesspools on the Island of Hawaii.

The bill as written would ban the currently 90,000 cesspools that are already here in Hawaii (50,000 of those on the Big Island alone) by the year 2050.

Cesspools in Hilo (I did not zoom into each TMK property… I just checked to make sure I was in the clear!)

Hawaii House Bill 1244:

According to the Hawaii Department of Health:

Cesspools are substandard systems.  They don’t treat wastewater, they merely dispose of it. Cesspools concentrate the wastewater in one location, often deep within the ground and in direct contact with groundwater, causing groundwater contamination.  This groundwater flows into drinking water wells, streams and the ocean, harming public health and the environment, including beaches and coral reefs.

 What are cesspools?

  • Cesspools are little more than holes in the ground that discharge raw, untreated human waste.
  • Cesspools can contaminate ground water, drinking water sources, streams and oceans with disease-causing pathogens, algae-causing nutrients, and other harmful substances.
  • Untreated wastewater from cesspools contains pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa and viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, Hepatitis A, conjunctivitis, leptospirosis, salmonellosis and cholera.

 How many cesspools do we have in Hawai`i?

  •  There are approximately 90,000 cesspools in the State, with nearly 50,000 located on the Big Island,  almost 14,000 on Kauai, over  12,000 on Maui, over 11,000 on Oahu and over 1,400 on Molokai.
  •  Hawai`i is the only state in the US that still allows construction of new cesspools.
  •  Approximately 800 new cesspools are approved for construction in Hawai`i each year.

How many cesspools pose a risk to our water resources and how do they impact our environment?

  •  There are 87,000 cesspools that pose a risk to our water resources.
  •  There are approximately 6,700 cesspools that are located within 200 feet of a perennial stream channel  throughout the State.  There  are approximately 31,000 cesspools that are located within the perennial  watersheds on the islands of Hawai`i, Kauai, Maui, and  Molokai.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release approximately 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground each  day.
  •  Cesspools in Hawai`i release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of  phosphorus into the ground each  day each day, which can stimulate undesirable algae growth, degrade  water quality, and impact coral reefs.

Click here to see if your property needs certification or is near a cesspool: Act 120 Eligibility Cesspool Finder

Maintenance Work to Close Muliwai Trail, Waimanu Valley Campground

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will be conducting maintenance work on Muliwai trail and Waimanu campground between May 15-19. The campground and trail will be closed during this period.

This is part of DOFAW’s routine maintenance of this trail and campground, including maintaining proper function of the Clivus composting toilets, litter pick up, removing fallen trees, and clearing land slides and use of herbicide to control invasive plants. This trail and campground is closed and maintained about four times a year.

For more information on state forest hiking trails and wilderness campgrounds, go to the Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program website (https://hawaiitrails.org/trails/#/), or to the DOFAW Hilo and Waimea offices.  For more information call (808) 974-4221.

My Hawai‘i, 2017 Student Environmental Writing Contest Winners Announced

The 25 winners of the 11th annual My Hawai‘i Story Contest were announced today.

The theme of this year’s contest is, “He Wa’a, He Moku”- Mālama Honua, celebrating the return of Hokule’a to Hawai’i from the Worldwide Voyage.

  • Brooklyn Aipoalani, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Taylor Amalato, Kaimuki Christian School
  • Connor Arakaki, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Cameren Banis, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Grace Bostock, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Kylie Chock, Hawaii Baptist Academy
  • Jamie Cummings, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Roisin Darby, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Morgan Davis, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Ella Gibson, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Koa Higgins, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Jaeden Jimenez, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Gabriel Kalama, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Kamaha’o Liu, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Chase Kamikawa, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Lyla Kaneshiro, S. W. King Intermediate
  • Katherine Payne, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Wainohia Peloso, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Ella Prado, Hawaii Preparatory Academy
  • Tory Refamonte, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Chloe Sylva, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Quincy Tamaribuchi, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School
  • Johnsen Uwekoolani, Kamehameha Schools Maui
  • ‘Ala’I Williams, Holy Nativity School
  • Noah Zitz, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Middle School

The winners will be presented with awards and prizes at the Hawai’i Conservation Conference on July 17, 2017 at the Hawai’i Convention Center in Honolulu.

Mahalo to all the participating students, schools, and teachers!

Global Survey Lands to Development of Hawaii Coral Plan

Two successive summers of serious coral bleaching in waters around the main Hawaiian Islands and in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands has led to the development of the first-ever Hawai‘i Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan.

According to DLNR Division of Aquatics (DAR) administrator Dr. Bruce Anderson, “Recent coral bleaching events around the Hawaiian Islands have been a major cause for concern, as healthy corals are key to our nearshore ecosystems and are the very foundations for the overall and long-term health of the ocean.  After serious and unprecedented bleaching events in 2015 and 2016, we sought advice from leading experts around the world on what types of management interventions might be most successful in minimizing long-term reef degradation resulting from bleaching.”

A steering committee, made up of representatives from DLNR/DAR, the University of Hawai‘i, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), surveyed opinions and best practices from experts around the and analyzed peer-reviewed literature related to coral bleaching and recovery.  The committee then held a workshop with local coral researchers and included their recommendations in the plan.

The report notes that “establishing a network of permanent no-take Marine Protected Areas and establishing a network of Herbivore Fishery Management Areas were the top-ranked actions arising from the expert judgment assessments and the literature analysis.”

“We set out to identify specific management actions we can take to mitigate the effects of coral bleaching and we succeeded in doing that,” said Anderson.  “Our goals now may include establishing protected areas around reefs that have naturally higher resiliency to bleaching, controlling algal overgrowth in selected locations by protecting herbivores, and replacing corals killed by bleaching events with new coral from another location. Anderson noted that “This is going to be a huge challenge, but we need to give it our best shot.  We’re extremely grateful to the experts here in Hawai‘i and around the world who helped make this recovery plan a reality.”

The Coral Bleaching Recovery Plan is available for download from the home page of DAR’s web site http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar under the “Notices” section.

New Portable Testing Tool Speeds Detection of Suspected Rapid `Ōhi`a Death Pathogens

Researchers have developed a new, more efficient tool for detecting the pathogens believed to be the cause of Rapid `Ōhi`a Death (ROD), according to a recently published study by the Hawaiʻi Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, the USGS Pacific Islands Ecosystem Research Center (PIERC), and USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS).
The authors of the report have developed a portable lab for diagnostic field testing for the two species of fungal pathogens that infect `ōhi`a (Metrosideros polymorpha). The portable lab, which provides quick results and reduces instrumentation costs, is currently being used by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) to detect infected trees and identify the distribution of the pathogens.

“Having this portable lab gives us the capability to do our own diagnostics and get a quicker answer about whether or not a tree is positive for ROD. The result then allows us to take management actions right away or do more targeted testing,” said Bill Buckley, Forest Response coordinator for BIISC and leader of their ROD Early Detection and Rapid Response Team.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture is also planning to use the portable lab to help screen shipments of `ōhi`a logs for the pathogens.

ROD was first identified in the lower Puna District in 2014, and now infects more than 50,000 acres of private and state forest lands on Hawaiʻi Island. ROD is a serious threat and imperils long-term sustainability of watersheds managed by Department of Interior agencies, the State of Hawaiʻi, and State Watershed Partnerships.

For more information on the study and its findings, visit https://dspace.lib.hawaii.edu/handle/10790/3025.

Hu Honua Reaches Agreement with HELCO on Biomass Plant

Hu Honua announced today that it has reached an agreement with Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) on an amended power purchase agreement (PPA).

HELCO agreed to revised terms for electricity to be produced by the biomass project and is submitting the amended contract to the Public Utilities Commission for approval of Hu Honua’s proposed pricing.

Hu Honua can resume construction on its half-completed facility and begin delivering clean, firm renewable energy by the end of 2018, if the PUC approves the amended PPA. The project would deliver firm, renewable power around the clock, making it a natural complement to HELCO’s existing portfolio of solar and wind power, which are intermittent sources.

Harold “Rob” Robinson, president of Island BioEnergy, Hu Honua’s parent company noted, “It’s a big win for Hu Honua, Hawaii Electric Light and the people of Hawaii Island to have an amended agreement. We are hopeful the PUC will recognize the project’s value in terms of economic benefits and energy stability.”

The amended PPA submission to the PUC includes information on pricing, which is lower than the original PPA; how the project will be less expensive compared to existing fossil fuel plants; and how the project will provide firm renewable energy that can replace existing fossil fuel plants.

Approximately 200 construction jobs will be needed to complete plant reconstruction, which is expected to take 14-18 months. Nearly 30 permanent operations and maintenance jobs will be available, once the plant is operational.

Hu Honua will become the foundation for a sustainable agriculture industry, creating approximately 200 jobs in forestry, harvesting, hauling, and in the production of wood products.

The project is expected to put $20 million into the local economy each year that would otherwise leave the state to purchase foreign oil, while helping the state secure its energy future and meet its clean energy goal of 100 percent renewable by 2045.

About Hu Honua

Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC is located in Pepeekeo on the Hamakua Coast of the island of Hawaii. When completed, the Hu Honua facility will be able to produce up to 30-megawatts (MW) of clean renewable baseload power, which means the plant can deliver reliable power that can be dispatched 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When operating at capacity, Hu Honua will be able to produce approximately 14 percent of Hawaii Island’s electricity needs and displace approximately 250,000 barrels of oil per year.

For more information, www.huhonua.com

Hope Cermelj Issued Citation for Mauna Kea Graffiti

Assistance provided by the Native Hawaiian community allowed officers from the Hawai‘i Branch of the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) to make contact with a suspect in the recent case of graffiti damage found at the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (NAR).

As a result of this contact and investigation, Hope Cermelj of Kalapana, Hawai‘i was issued a citation for violating Rule 13-209-4 (3), Prohibited Activities within a Natural Area Reserve. Cermelj will be required to appear in Hilo District Court.

Graffiti was discovered on several rocks in the NAR on April 28th, as well as on structures belonging to the Office of Mauna Kea Management.

DLNR/DOCARE thanks community members who stepped forward to provide information and assistance. This was instrumental in locating and identifying the suspect.

Hawaii Marks Start of Wildfire Season with a Party, Demonstrations & Education #WildfireReadyHI

Compared to large mainland wildfires, Hawai‘i’s are relatively small. Yet the percentage of land mass burned each year in the islands is equal to or exceeds the acreage burned in many western states.

The importance of land and homeowners to be fire ready is the theme of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day events and activities across the country today. At the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area on Hawai‘i Island’s west side, Elizabeth Pickett watched as several non-profit organizations set up booths and exhibits for the first-ever Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness. Pickett is the executive director of the Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), which with DLNR, and two dozen other State and federal government organizations and various non-profits are supporting the second year of a public and media awareness campaign: Wildfire LOOKOUT!

Pickett explained to people who dropped by the HWMO booth, that just because they may never have personally experienced a wildfire close to their home or property, that doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted. She explained, “Especially in our island environment the negative impacts of a wildfire in a specific location usually has detrimental impacts many miles away that can persist for years and even decades. You often hear people refer to “mauka to makai,” and that effect pertains to wildfire. Once land is stripped of trees and vegetation it becomes much more prone to erosion and the introduction of invasive species and soot and sediment can wash from mountain forests to the sea where it can choke out life in coral reefs.”

Big Island State Representative Cindy Evans emphasized the need for everyone in Hawai‘i to become aware of these impacts and to do their part to prevent wildland fires. She’s seen first- hand the devastation and destruction, these often fast moving fires cause. Evans said, “Even the loss of one home is one too many when you consider that with a little awareness, people truly can prevent wildland fires.”  In emphasizing personal responsibility, Representative Evans explained that each person needs to be fire smart, which means taking steps around your home and property to eliminate combustible materials that can heighten or accelerate the spread of a fire. Experts say being fire wise also means not idling cars over dry grass or tossing cigarette butts on the ground. In Hawaii virtually all wildland fires are caused by people and historically have burned across highly unique, native forests, sometimes resulting in the destruction of rare native plants and insects.

Chief Eric Moller leads the firefighting and emergency services team at the US Army’s Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA). His two dozen firefighters are responsible for prevention and suppression of fires on more than 450 square miles of federal land, but through mutual aid agreements can and do respond to fires island-wide. During his opening remarks to kick off the Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness, he commented, “The wildfire threat is across islands throughout the Pacific.  What people don’t realize is that when firefighters are called to battle a human-caused wildland fire, response to other structure fires or medical emergencies can be delayed.”  He too reinforced the need for all island residents to become “fire wise.”

Adusalaam Moultaala of Brooklyn, N.Y., was one of the first people to visit booths and take in the displays at the wildfire awareness party.  He’s considering buying a home on the Big Island, maybe even in a forested area like Puna or Ocean View.  He found the fire safe information he received invaluable, and especially how it connected being fire safe with overall environmental health from the mountains to the ocean.  Jennifer Ahier of Kona brought her three keiki to the event and they enjoyed games, displays and a tour of a fire truck.  She said her two youngest don’t yet understand what being fire smart means, but today was definitely a start.

In addition to educational and awareness displays and information, the Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness included food, yoga, dance, and musical performances. Throughout the month of May the HWMO is sponsoring a photo contest featuring wildfire protection-related actions.  You can participate via Instragram or Twitter using the hashtag #WildfireReadyHI or e-mail photos to admin@hawaiiwildfire.org

Mau‘i’s Most Popular Trail Gets Safety and Conservation Upgrades

On one side of the Waihe‘e Ridge Trail, hikers look deep into the Waihe‘e Gorge.  On the other, they look across Makamakaole Gulch and out into the shimmering Pacific Ocean.  On a clear day, yet another view is across the entire central plain of Maui all the way to the top of Haleakala.  This challenging, but scenic trail is considered the most popular path on Maui in the State’s Nā Ala Hele Trail and Access Program.

Now the thousands of people who make the 2.5-mile trek to the top can do it safer and probably with a heck of a lot less mud attached to their boots.  An almost completed $122,000 trail improvement program provides two viewing platforms, drainage features in particularly boggy areas, and better trail tread to reduce slickness.  Torrie Nohara, the Nā Ala Hele trails specialist on Maui commented, “On every trail, water control is the number one consideration. We’ve built “sheet drains” that will divert water off the trail and not only make it more enjoyable for users, but help prevent erosion. On the lower portions of the trail we did significant excavation of large boulders and rocks to improve the contour of the trail.”

The Nā Ala Hele program falls under the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). It hired Cam Lockwood of Trails Unlimited to help design the new features and supervise trail improvement and construction work.  His California-based company has built and improved trails nationwide.  He says the Waihe’e Ridge Trail incorporates some of the best thinking and best practices around for trail improvements.  “For instance,” Lockwood explained, “The large viewing platform on top and the one about a mile up the trail are constructed with pressure treated lumber raised off the ground to provide a longer useful life. Composite decking was used on the viewing platforms to also extend their life spans and to provide improved traction in the often, wet conditions at the terminus of the trail.”  He said the primary consideration for all the improvements was to make the entire trail more sustainable, more enjoyable, and safer.  He describes the views from the top as “breathtaking” and hopes people will focus on those, rather than the challenge involved in making the 1,500-foot elevation gain hike.

While most of the major construction is now complete, crews continue to put finishing touches on some of the features and certain sections of the trail.  The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is open for hiking, but people are asked to exercise caution and respect when traversing through construction zones. For complete information on this trail please visit:https://hawaiitrails.org/trails/#/trail/waihee-ridge-trail/111

Waihee Ridge Trail Improvements VNR from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Hawaii Students Compete in Underwater Robotics Competition

The Coast Guard hosted several students during the Marine Advanced Technology Education Oahu Regional Competition at Base Honolulu, Saturday.

Nine teams from local elementary, middle and high schools competed in an underwater robotics competition focused on the use of technologies used for ocean and space science and exploration.

Nine teams comprised of local elementary, middle and high school students participated in the Marine Advanced Technology Education Oahu Regional Competition at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, May 6, 2017. Students competed in an underwater robotics competition focused on the application of technologies used for ocean and space science and exploration. (U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa E. McKenzie/Released)

“We always love to partner with the community because we know that we’re creating future scientists, engineers and Coasties,” said Capt. Edward Sheppard, commanding officer, Coast Guard Base Honolulu. “We can help instill science, technology, engineering and math. Many of these kids will go off to colleges here in Hawaii or also on the mainland and then we might even be their future employer so it’s fantastic to be here.”

The contest’s top winners will travel to Long Beach City College in Long Beach, Calif., to compete against the winning teams of other regional MATE international ROV competitions.

The MATE ROV competition challenges students to apply the physics, math, electronics, and engineering skills they are learning in the classroom to solving problems from the marine workplace. Mentors are expected to limit their input to educational and inspirational roles and encouraged to focus on the benefits of the learning process and not winning the competition.

The primary mission of the MATE Center is to provide the marine technical workforce with appropriately educated workers and to use marine technology to create interest in and improve STEM education.

Groups are divided into two teams determined by skill level. The Ranger class is an intermediate level of competition aimed at middle and high school teams featuring robots and missions more complex and technologically advanced.  All missions are performed without looking in the pool, relying only on the sensors and cameras mounted on the ROV. The Scout class is open to novice teams in elementary through high school and introduces projects enabling students to learn the fundamentals of ROV design and construction.

Endangered ‘Ua‘u Released Successfully

When it comes to successful wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, the old adage “it takes a village” rings true. An endangered ‘Ua‘u (Hawaiian Petrel) is back in the wild thanks to the rapid response and partnership of many, including Pulama Lana‘i, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), multiple community members, Kohala Dental Center, Maui Save Our Seabirds, and the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center.

All photos courtesy of Hawai‘i Wildlife Center

The ‘Ua‘u was found injured on Lana‘i after a suspected structure collision. The bird was suffering from head trauma, an injury to its left eye, damage to the tip of its beak, and neurological issues. The rescuers coordinated with the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center, the bird was flown to Hawai‘i Island on April 19 and was then brought to the HWC wildlife hospital from the airport by Wheels for Wildlife transport volunteer, Paul McCollam. The extensive list of injuries led HWC to give the bird a guarded prognosis after it was evaluated by HWC Primary Care Veterinarian Dr. Juan Guerra. It was started on an aggressive course of treatment, including antibiotics, eye drops, nutritional support and hydration. HWC staff administered treatment three times a day every day and remained committed to the bird’s recovery.

“This case really highlights the importance of giving downed birds a chance to rehabilitate,” said Samantha Christie, HWC Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager. “This bird would have perished if not for the quick response on Lana‘i and the intensive care provided at HWC.”

The ‘Ua‘u continued its recovery, gaining strength and exhibiting more feisty natural behavior, and on May 1 it was placed on a conditioning pool for the first time. After watching the bird spend multiple days on the pool, HWC wildlife staff determined that the bird’s feathers were able to provide the necessary waterproofing and were encouraged to see the patient exhibiting normal behavior. All signs pointed towards release.

Before the bird was ready to be released, a few last details needed to be addressed. HWC wildlife rehabilitation staff performed a unique procedure using dental epoxy generously provided by Kohala Dental Center to repair the bird’s damaged beak. The day before release, the bird was banded by DOFAW staff with a band that was provided by Maui Save Our Seabirds and flown in the night before. Then she was ready for return to the wild.

Since seabirds naturally fly long distances, HWC was granted permission from USFWS and DOFAW to release the Lana‘i ‘Ua‘u on Hawai‘i Island. The release location, Kawaihae Harbor, was chosen based on the close proximity to the Center. Michael Huber, another HWC volunteer, carefully kayaked the ‘Ua‘u out of the harbor and the bird was released to favorable winds and calm seas. During its initial examination at the HWC wildlife hospital, HWC wildlife staff found a brood patch indicating that the bird was a breeding adult. HWC staff expects the bird to eventually navigate back home to Lana‘i to breed.

The Hawaiian Petrel, or ‘Ua‘u in Hawaiian, is an endangered species that feeds in in the open ocean. This large seabird is strictly pelagic and is only seen on land when nesting. (A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hawai‘i. Jim Denny. University of Hawaii Press, 2010.)

Big Island Dairy Fined for Fecal Pollution

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has issued a Notice of Violation and Order to Big Island Dairy, LLC for the unlawful discharge of wastewater from the dairy’s Concentrated Animal Feedlot Operations (CAFO), located in O’okala on Hawaii Island, to Kaohaoha Gulch.

Big Island Dairy Facebook picture

The DOH has ordered Big Island Dairy, LLC to immediately cease discharging wastewater to state waters, pay a penalty of $25,000 to the state, and take corrective actions to prevent future unlawful discharges from the dairy to state waters. Further, the dairy is required to apply to DOH for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit required under the Federal Clean Water Act, and State of Hawaii water pollution laws. Additional DOH oversight of other past and current dairy issues is continuing.

“Big Island Dairy will immediately cease illegal discharges and pay a penalty fee for violating environmental laws,” said Keith Kawaoka, DOH deputy director of Environmental Health. “Food production and environmental protection are not competing interests, and through this enforcement action and future permitting efforts, DOH will seek mutually beneficial results for the dairy, O’okala community, and greater State of Hawaii.”

On March 28-29, 2017, the DOH conducted an inspection of the dairy and Kaohaoha Gulch based on information provided by community leaders. During the inspection, DOH found clear evidence of an unlawful discharge of wastewater from the dairy’s field irrigation practices. The discharge was composed of animal wastewater, biosolids and dirt.

Requirement for an NPDES Permit Authorizing the Discharge to State waters

Under the federal Clean Water Act and state water pollution laws, a dairy with 700 or more mature milking cows which operates as a CAFO and discharges is required to obtain and comply with an NPDES permit. NPDES permits regulate the discharges from the dairy to state and federal waters by requiring implementation of pollution reducing practices and compliance reporting. Big Island Dairy has 30 days to submit an application for NPDES permit coverage to DOH.

Requirement for the Development and Implementation of a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan

Big Island Dairy is ordered to develop or revise a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) that defines how the dairy treats, uses, and distributes its wastewater for crop production purposes. The CNMP must follow Federal guidelines and be approved of by the DOH before implementation. The CNMP will be an enforceable provision of the NPDES permit.

Surveys of State waters within Dairy Property

Big Island Dairy is required to conduct surveys and inspections of state waters located within the dairy property to identify all points of discharge from the dairy. The dairy must develop corrective action plans if the dairy finds any evidence of waste or wastewater within state waters due to dairy operations. DOH will review the final reports and conduct due diligence to authenticate conclusions made in the dairy’s report.

Big Island Dairy, LLC may contest the Notice of Violation and Order and has 20 days to request a hearing.

The Hawaii Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch protects the health of residents and visitors who enjoy Hawaii’s coastal and inland water resources. The Branch also protects and restores inland and coastal waters for marine life and wildlife. This is accomplished through statewide coastal water surveillance and watershed-based environmental management using a combination of permit issuance, water quality monitoring and investigation, water quality violation enforcement, polluted runoff control, and public education.

New Lava Flow Maps Released

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of April 10 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of May 3 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray. The yellow line is the trace of the active lava tube (dashed where uncertain).

The 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). (Click to Enlarge)

This small-scale map shows Kīlauea’s active East Rift Zone lava flow field in relation to the southeastern part of the Island of Hawaiʻi. The area of the active flow field as of April 10 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of May 3 is shown in red. Older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2016) are shown in gray.

The 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).