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Coast Guard Establishes Temporary Safety Zone in Vicinity of Active Kilauea Lava Flow

The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone for the navigable waters surrounding the Kilauea Volcano active lava flow entry into the Pacific Ocean on the southeast side of the Big Island, Hawai’i, Tuesday.

The temporary safety zone will encompass all waters extending 300 meters (984 feet) in all directions around the entry of the lava flow into the ocean from noon March 28 to 8 a.m. Sept. 28.  Experts from the U.S. Geological Survey recommend 300 meters as the minimum safe distance to avoid hazards from the lava flow.

The Coast Guard has taken action to ensure public safety because of the danger the unstable sea cliff, volcanic shrapnel, toxic gases and potential bench collapses pose to vessel traffic and the public. As long as lava enters the ocean, further sea cliff degradation, hazardous conditions, delta construction and collapse are likely to occur.  These collapses occur with little to no warning and cannot be predicted.

According to the HVO, large and dense fragments ejected during delta collapses can be thrown in all directions from the point of collapse, including out to sea.  Based on a review of nearly 30 years of delta collapse and ejecta distance observations in HVO records, a radius of 300 meters was determined as a reasonable minimum high hazard zone around a point of ocean entry.

A Broadcast Notice to Mariners has been issued via VHF-FM marine channel 16 about the safety zone. Entry of vessels or people into this zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port Honolulu or his designated representative.

To view documents in the Federal Register mentioned in this release, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0172 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.”  Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule. It may take up to five days for documents to publish in the Federal Register, once published public comments may be submitted for a period of 60 days.

The Coast Guard is also issuing a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to establish a permanent Safety Zone for this region. We solicit feedback from the public on this rule making process. You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2017-0234 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.

Written Comments: Written public comments will be accepted on or before 11:59 p.m. June 3, 2017, via http://www.regulations.gov. The Coast Guard strongly prefers comments to be submitted electronically; however, written comments may also be submitted (e.g. postmarked) by the deadline, via mail to Commander (spw), U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, 433 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96850.

Oral Comments: The Coast Guard will provide the public an opportunity to make oral comments by holding a public meeting on May 08, 2017, at 5 p.m. at the East Hawaii County Building (Hilo) Aupuni Center Conference Room located at 101 Pauahi St. #7, Hilo, Hawaii 96720.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Commits Funds to Protect Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Stilt

The Department of the Interior announced that through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Cooperative Recovery Initiative (CRI) more than $3.74 million is being committed to nine projects on 12 national wildlife refuges across 12 states to help recover some of the nation’s most at-risk species on or near national wildlife refuges.

Hawaiian Coot (Photo by Dick Daniels http://carolinabirds.org/)

“We are targeting our work where it will do the most good for America’s resources,” said FWS Acting Director Jim Kurth. “This initiative is a unique way to engage in conservation work with states and partners, giving the taxpayer a good return on investment.”

Species to benefit from CRI funding include the Miami blue butterfly, ocelots, Puritan tiger beetles, masked bobwhite and spectacled eiders.

Since 2013, FWS has funded 66 projects for nearly $27 million through the CRI. Other species that have benefited include the Oregon chub, the first fish in the nation to be taken off the endangered species list; Sonoran pronghorn; dusky gopher frog; and red-cockaded woodpecker. These projects often provide conservation benefits to other imperiled species and encourage partnerships with states and private groups.

Project Details:

Hawaiian Stilt

Pacific Region
Protect Two Endangered Hawaiian Waterbirds and Core Wetland Habitats at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge

A project team will establish long-lasting protections for two endangered birds, the Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian stilt, against predators and ungulates and create new habitat, resulting in a large-scale restoration of Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, a critically important wetland habitat in Hawaii.

Enhance the Conservation Status of Spalding’s Catchfly
A project team will establish five additional viable subpopulations of 500 individual threatened Spalding’s catchfly on protected habitat at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge in Washington and three other partner and privately-owned locations within the Channeled Scablands and Palouse Prairie regions in Washington and Idaho.

Southwest Region
Protect Endangered Species Corridors in the Rio Grande Valley

Staff at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Texas will work with partners to acquire a 400-acre conservation easement to expand habitat between the refuge and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge for the endangered ocelot. The increased habitat will also aid the endangered northern aplomado falcon.

Establish Second Captive Breeding Population of Masked Bobwhite Quail in North America
A project team will expand the endangered masked bobwhite population by creating a captive population in a rearing facility at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona and establish a second captive population and biosecurity program at Sutton Avian Research Center.

Southeast Region
Protect and Enhance Watercress Darter Habitat at Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge

A project team will maintain the current pool habitats on Watercress Darter National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama for the endangered watercress darter to improve migration and genetic diversity, promote additional aquatic habitats on the refuge, and monitor restored and developed habitats. They will also remove a failing water control structure, promote connectivity for fish passage between pools, and enhance habitats downstream or adjacent to the pools.

Habitat Restoration through Prescribed Fire at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge for 11 Listed Plant Species and the Florida Scrub Jay
A project team will restore fire-suppressed scrub and sandhill habitat to enhance populations of 11 listed plant species and the endangered Florida scrub jay at Lake Wales Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. In particular, the staff will augment the only protected population of endangered Garrett’s mint through seed collection and strategic dispersal, which will significantly increase the population.

Restore Populations of the Critically Endangered Miami Blue Butterfly
A project team will establish new viable populations of the endangered Miami blue butterfly over a much larger geographic range in south Florida, including on National Key Deer Refuge, Great Heron National Wildlife Refuge, and local state parks.

Northeast Region
Puritan Tiger Beetle Habitat Enhancement and Population Stabilization in the Connecticut River Watershed

Two new viable subpopulations of the threatened Puritan tiger beetle will be established by a project team from Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge on state-owned lands in New Hampshire and Vermont, within the Connecticut River watershed. The project will optimize a captive rearing protocol, enabling the beetle to be reared in the lab and translocated to protected habitat sites.

Alaska Region
Estimate Global Abundance and Evaluate Changes in At-Sea Distribution of Threatened Spectacled Eiders.

A project team will estimate the global population of threatened spectacled eiders as well as evaluate changes in distribution at marine molting, staging, and wintering areas, including in Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The team will also evaluate changes in non-breeding distribution of adult females captured on the refuge breeding area.

For more information on the 2017 projects and those in previous years, please visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuges/whm/cri/.

Applications Sought for Hawaii Island Forestry Advisory Council Positions

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, is now accepting applications for vacant seats on the Laupāhoehoe Advisory Council (LAC) and the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Council (PAC) on Hawai‘i island. Both forest areas are part of the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest.  DOFAW works with the Forest Service to do research in these areas.

The councils meet quarterly.  Each consists of 14 members who serve a 2 to 3 year term, staggered within different categories of expertise, such as natural resources, recreation use, cultural knowledge, neighboring landowner, business/ecotourism, and grant writing expertise/coastal zone management.  All applicants should have an appropriate background in the vacant category area as well as an interest in representing community stakeholders related to their respective categories.

Individuals who are interested in serving on either the Laupāhoehoe or Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Councils may submit an application.

Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Council (PAC)

Interested applicants are being sought to fill one position in the following category: Hui ‘Ohana mai Pu‘u Anahulu a me Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a representative.

PAC members provide guidance to DLNR on management of 40,711 acres of state land in the North Kona ‘ahupua‘a of Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a. It includes grasslands and coastal ecosystems, including anchialine ponds, tropical dry and wet forests, a forest bird sanctuary and Kīholo State Park Reserve

Laupāhoehoe Advisory Council (LAC) 

Interested applicants are now being sought to represent these categories:  cultural resources, natural resource management, recreation, education, Laupāhoehoe community, Hawai‘i community at large, and scientific research. Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve is on the windward side of Hawai‘i island and includes 12,300 acres of wet tropical forest in both forest reserve land as well as a natural area reserve.

LAC members help provide guidance to DLNR and the USDA Forest Service on issues related to management, research, education and public access in the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest and state lands in the Hamakua District (Laupāhoehoe Natural Area Reserve and Forest Reserve).

Continuous recruitment is also being sought year-round for each category of expertise (recommended submittal dates are by April 30, June 30, September 30 and December 30), and applications will be reviewed on a quarterly basis. Applications including submittal instructions can be found at http://www.hetf.us/page/home/.

Hard copy application forms are also available at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife office in Hilo at 19 E. Kawili St. in Hilo, and in Waimea at 66-1220A Lalamilo Road. Applications will be reviewed by the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Hawai‘i Experimental Tropical Forest working group, and current members of the selected Advisory Council. Final selections are made by the DLNR chairperson.

For more information on either the Laupāhoehoe or Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a Advisory Councils and the application process, contact the DOFAW Hawai‘i branch manager, Steve Bergfeld at (808) 974-4221.

Second Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds Announced

Program dates for the Second Annual Hawaii Island Festival of Birds have been announced as September 15 – 17, 2017 and will once again be headquartered at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

The Festival program will feature expert guest speakers Jeff Gordon, President of the American Birding Association, and Kenn Kaufman, renowned author, artist and conservationist along with a trade show for outdoor and birding equipment, children’s corner, bird-themed arts and crafts fair, photography and painting workshops, a birding film festival, and time to interact with Hawaii Island naturalists and bird experts. Guided field trips on land and sea will be included in the program offering.

Birdwatching! Photo by Lance Tanino

Festival participants will be able to take part in guided birdwatching field trips along the newly created Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail, and in guided boat trips departing from Honokohau Harbor to observe seabirds.  The 90-mile Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail is a cross-island link from Kona (on the west coast) to Hilo (on the east coast) that connects diverse habitats from ocean to mountain top, rainforest to lava plains.  The self-guided Hawaii Island Coast to Coast Birding Trail, modeled after similar North American trails, follows a network of sites so users can take in all or any part of the route along the way. Locating and observing birds is, of course, the main event on the Trail, but discovering Hawaii Island’s unique plants and trees, geology, history and scenic view points are also emphasized.

Palila photo by Jack Jeffrey

New this year will be a birding-focused film festival on Friday (September 15) with documentaries about Hawaiian birds showing on Friday afternoon plus a feature film playing outdoors on Friday night.  Saturday’s workshops will include an expert talk from Brian Sullivan, project leader for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for eBird.org, and a panel discussion by naturalists and biologists of their last sightings of now extinct Hawaiian birds.

Photo by Jack Jeffrey

Saturday’s program options include a hands-on Photography Workshop and an Art Workshop with materials provided.  Saturday night’s Gala Dinner will be headlined by Kenn Kaufman speaking on the significance of Hawaii’s unique bird life. Detailed schedule of events is available at birdfesthawaii.org

New American Birding Association Recognition

Following last year’s inaugural Hawaii Island Festival of Birds, members of the American Birding Association voted overwhelming to add Hawaii to the ABA Area. For birders, this is huge as it has the potential to add substantially to the official ABA Area Checklist. There are at least 320 bird species documented in the Hawaiian Islands, of which 30 endemics remain. “There’s so much to learn about Hawaii’s native birds,” said Rob Pacheco, founder of Hawaii Forest & Trail and a member of the Festival’s organizing committee. “And we’re thrilled that Hawaii is now recognized as part of the ABA Area by the American Birding Association. We look forward to welcoming ABA’s members, and birding fans in general, to Hawaii and the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds.”

Sponsors of the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds include Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Hawaii, Hawaii Forest & Trail, Destination Marketing, Hawaii Wildlife Center and Alaska Airlines.

Hemp Day at the Capitol

State Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 20 – Kapolei, Makakilo, and portions of ‘Ewa, Kalaeloa, and Waipahu), Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Environment, will lead a day focused on the production and uses of industrial hemp at the State Capitol on Wednesday, March 29th.

Waimanalo, Oahu Hemp field blessing on April 15, 2015

“Hemp is an incredible crop that has big potential in our islands”, said Senator Gabbard. “This is an opportunity to bring some attention to what kind of exciting opportunities are just around the corner as our state Industrial Hemp Pilot Program is rolled out. I’m confident hemp will be a niche crop for our farmers that will make good use of the Hawai‘i brand.”

The day begins with a floor presentation in the State Senate Chambers at 11:30 a.m. as Senator Gabbard honors Dr. Harry Ako, Principal Investigator of the Industrial Hemp Research Project, and his team for their efforts in proving industrial hemp can grow well in Hawai‘i. In December 2015, the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources released a report on a successful, two-year industrial hemp remediation and biofuel crop research project that was conducted in Waimanalo in compliance with Act 56 (2014): https://www.hawaii.edu/offices/eaur/govrel/reports/2016/act56-slh2014_2016_industrial-hemp_report.pdf

The Senate floor presentation will be followed by a joint Informational Briefing at 1:15 p.m. in Conference Room 224 to provide an update about industrial hemp research, the current status of the state Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, and the future of hemp development in Hawai‘i.

The informational briefing will include presentations by the following:

The hearing notice can be accessed at this link: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2017/hearingnotices/HEARING_AEN-AGR_03-29-17_INFO_.HTM

For questions about the informational briefing, contact the office of Senator Mike Gabbard at 586-6830.

Hawaii DLNR Accepting Proposals to Increase Water Security

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is accepting proposals for projects or programs submitted by public or private agencies or organizations to increase water security in the State of Hawaii.

Click to view

Act 172 Session Laws of Hawaii 2016 requires DLNR to establish a two-year pilot program for a Water Security Advisory Group (WSAG) to enable public-private partnerships that increase water security by providing one-for-one matching funds for projects or programs that:

  1. Increase the recharge of groundwater resources;
  2. Encourage the reuse of water and reduce the use of potable water for landscaping irrigation; and
  3. Improve the efficiency of potable and agricultural water use.

Public or private agencies or organizations are encouraged to submit proposals to the WSAG at the address provided in the Request for Proposals by Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) may be viewed or downloaded at:  http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/cwrm/planning/watersecurity/

The request for proposals may also be viewed or a hard copy picked up, at the Commission on Water Resource Management office located at 1151 Punchbowl Street, Kalanimoku Building Room 227 in Honolulu.

To request a copy of the RFP by mail, please send an email to admin@oneworldonewater.org

Community Presentation – Raising Awareness of Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death

The Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM), ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, and University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Department of Physics & Astronomy, continue their community presentations this Thursday, March 23 starting at 7 pm. The free Maunakea Speaker Series will be held in the UH Hilo Wentworth Hall: Room 1. On-campus parking after 4 pm is open and available without charge.

Raising Awareness of Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death

Dr. Friday will speak on Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death, a fungal disease that is causing extensive mortality across tens of thousands of acres of ‘ōhi’a (Metrosideros polymorpha) forests on Hawai’i Island. Loss of these native forests threatens native species, watershed protection, landscape and cultural resources. Dr. Friday will provide updates on what is currently known about the pathogens, how the disease moves, how it is being monitored, ongoing research, and measures being taken to limit the spread of the disease.

The Maunakea Speaker Series is a monthly scholar-focused presentation in partnership with the Office of Maunakea Management, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Department of Physics & Astronomy. For more information visit malamamaunakea.org or call 808-933-0734.

New Lava Flow Map Released

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone lava flow field. The area of the active flow field as of February 24 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the active flow as of March 16 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).

Public Comment Period for Draft Environmental Assessment, Maunakea Visitor Information Station

The public is invited to comment on a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for Infrastructure Improvements at Maunakea Visitor Information Station (VIS). The University of Hawaiʻi Hilo is proposing a set of infrastructure improvements at Halepōhaku to accommodate and address the increase in the number of visitors to the mountain; ensure the safety of visitors and workers; prevent unintended impacts to natural, historic, and cultural resources on the Halepōhaku and adjacent parcels; and comply with the Board of Land and Natual Resources (BLNR)-approved Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

The Proposed Action includes: a new means of ingress and egress for vehicles to the VIS, a new access lane and parking area, paving of an unimproved path to provide access from the new parking area to the VIS, drainage features, a greenhouse, and relocation of a cabin. Project activities would occur on the university’s leased lands. The access to the ingress/egress and the new parking area would be through access points identified in the Halepōhaku parcel lease.

Improving traffic conditions and visitor access to the VIS is important to maintaining a safe experience for visitors and workers. The CMP states that for safety reasons, all parking should be on the same side of the road as existing Halepōhaku facilities. The proposed infrastructure changes improve access and safety for visitors and workers by adding ingress and egress routes that facilitate traffic flow and building a new VIS Parking Area. The purpose of the project is to replace unsafe, ad hoc, road shoulder parking that is resulting in degraded conditions, and provide for safe access to the VIS from the new parking lot.

Comment period

The public comment period runs 30 days from March 8, 2017 to April 7, 2017. Comments may be submitted via email to: comments@srgii.com or via regular mail to: Attention: Maunakea VIS Infrastructure Improvements Draft EA Comments, Office of Maunakea Management, 640 N. Aʻohoku Place, Hilo, HI 96720.

See Draft Environmental Assessment

DLNR Statement on Plea Deal in Ka`ena Point Albatross Killings

DLNR is issuing this statement in the Kaʿena Point albatross killings, expressing concern over the plea bargain of Christian Guiterrez, 19, the adult accused of participating in these crimes.

Christian Guiterrez

“This crime is absolutely heinous,” said Suzanne Case, Chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “It combines appalling animal cruelty with long-lasting devastation of a breeding population of vulnerable and protected majestic seabirds. Unfortunately, DLNR was not consulted with respect to the plea bargain in this case. Our wildlife managers and enforcement officers work very hard to protect the Kaʿena albatross colony. We take great responsibility for the welfare of these Laysan Albatross and to the public who cares about them deeply.  DLNR is watching this case very closely to see if justice will be met.”

17 Laysan Albatross nests were destroyed (6 eggs died from loss of an incubating parent that was killed and 11 were crushed) and at least 15 adult birds were killed, some of which were dismembered by the perpetrators. With 32 live albatrosses lost, and a proven reproductive potential of each adult bird that can live for 60+ years and rear a chick every other year, the combined effect on the population has been calculated in the hundreds for these large, protected birds.

This is the first major case to come before Hawaiʻi’s new environmental court. “The tone this case sets can have far reaching impacts on the security of our wildlife and natural resources,” Case said. “It is critical that the outcome of this case sends a strong message to the public, that violations of laws protecting our vulnerable native wildlife and acts of illegal take and destruction will not be tolerated.”

Hawaii Lava Stream Update – Two Plumes at Ocean Entrance

A firehose of lava continues to pour into the sea at the Kamokuna ocean entry, sending a plume of steam, hydrochloric acid, and glass particles into the air and drifting downwind.

Click on photos to enlarge

Offshore, lava entering the sea also produces plumes of hot, discolored water.

A closer view of the ocean entry and plumes of hot, discolored water.

The circular area of dark water in front of the entry is a region of cooler water between the split plumes of hotter water.

A thermal image shows the two plumes of hot water extending out from the ocean entry point.

A circular area of cool water is directly in front of the entry point, between the two plumes. Several boats leave tracks of stirred-up cooler water cutting through the hot water on the surface.

A closer view of the lava firehose at the ocean entry.

The lava stream here is roughly 1-2 meters wide (3-6 ft), and plunges about 20 m (66 ft) into the water.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō started as a cinder and spatter cone in the 1980s, but over the past 30 years flank vents on the cone have produced stacks of lava flows, creating a broad shield around the cone.

This view looks north and shows the shield shape clearly. Mauna Kea Volcano can be seen in the distance.

A lava pond has been present in a small pit in the western portion of Puʻu ʻŌʻō Crater for nearly two years.

Unusually clear views today revealed several areas of spattering, and some crustal foundering.

Hawai’i Island Schools Receive Funding for Environmental Projects

Schools in Hilo and West Hawai‘i will be going green with the help of funding from Kupu and Kōkua Hawai‘i  Foundation’s inaugural Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) mini-grant program. The mini-grant funding will be supporting students at Hilo Union Elementary School, St. Joseph School, Kealakehe Intermediate School and Kohala High School to help them implement their innovative project proposals, which include a children’s book, a community garden and robot prototypes.

“We’re really excited to be able to support schools on Hawai‘i Island in developing unique ways to mālama ‘āina,” said John Leong, CEO of Kupu. “Our youth are the next generation of environmental stewards and community leaders in our state, and hopefully projects like these, inspire and empower them to continue to create sustainable solutions for a better, more resilient Hawai‘i.”

A total of 25 schools across the state will be receiving funding to implement new environmental projects that raise sustainability awareness and practices in schools and their communities. HYSC mini-grant funding will be provided to the following projects on Hawai‘i Island:

  • Hilo Union Elementary School will be launching their “Let Us Grow” program, in which their 5th graders will grow their own greens through hydroponic buckets, as well as educating other students on how to do the same and how hydroponics compares to growing vegetables in soil.
  • Through its proposed project, “Huli Ka Lima I Lalo,” St. Joseph School’s Hawaiian language class will be creating a Hawaiian garden or mala on campus, to grow native plants based on the Hawaiian moon calendar, to learn more about traditional Hawaiian knowledge and how to successfully grow and maintain a Hawaiian garden.
  • Kealakehe Intermediate School was awarded two mini-grants for its children’s book and “The Edible Vending Machine” projects. Students in 7th and 8th grade will be producing a book about harvesting pa‘akai (sea salt) to better educate about the connection between traditional Hawaiian knowledge and sustainable living. “The Edible Vending Machine” is a project proposed by 8th grader Riley Estrada, who will be designing a vending machine prototype and app to offer healthy, delicious and sustainable snacks to students.
  • Inspired by a recent beach cleanup, students from Kohala High School are hoping to educate their community about marine debris through recycling stations, presentations and building a prototype of a futuristic micro-plastic cleaning robot.

“The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge has allowed us to further connect with and empower Hawai‘i’s students to carry out innovative and much-needed projects to address their vision for a healthy, sustainable future,” added Natalie McKinney, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation executive director. “We are inspired by their creativity and look forward to seeing the outcomes of their projects. For over a decade, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation’s Mini-Grant Program has funded these types of projects in and out of the classroom. We are honored and proud to work with our many partners on the HYSC to reach even more students across the state.”

The Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge (HYSC) was first announced by First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress and is dedicated to inspiring youth to be intentionally engaged with the environment through action, advocacy and education. The HYSC mini-grant program is a Legacy Initiative from the IUCN Congress, made possible through funding by Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools and Public Schools of Hawai‘i Foundation, with the support of the Hawai‘i State Department of Education.

“I’m thrilled to see so many students throughout the state engage in the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, and even more excited to support their creativity and environmental stewardship through this IUCN Legacy Initiative,” said First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige. “These students are agents of change in their own communities, helping us to promote the importance of our natural resources, while implementing innovative projects that will help preserve the beauty of our environment for generations to come. Congratulations to all the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge mini-grant recipients.”

For more information about the Hawai‘i Youth Sustainability Challenge, please visit www. kokuahawaiifoundation.org/mini grants.

New Study Supports the Rarity and Limited Range of a Kauai Endemic Bird

A new study provides the first rigorous population estimate of an enigmatic endangered bird species found only on Kauai, the Puaiohi or Small Kauai Thrush: 494 birds. Scientists have long believed that the species was very rare, but it had heretofore eluded a precise count due to its secretive demeanor and the rugged, inaccessible terrain it inhabits deep in Kauai’s Alakai Plateau.

The Puaiohi was listed as Endangered in 1967, when the Endangered Species Act became law, because of its rarity and single-island residency. One of the first goals mentioned in the plan for its recovery was to estimate the size of the population. Accomplishing this goal was hampered by a lack of resources, the species’ cryptic nature and its remote habitat.

“Population estimates are a cornerstone of species conservation efforts,” said Dr. Eben Paxton of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author of the study. “They are the benchmark against which managers monitor the success of their conservation efforts. If managers don’t know how many individuals exist to begin with, it is impossible to tell if a population is increasing or decreasing in response to conservation activities.”

Dr. Lisa Crampton, the lead author of the study, added: “We are thrilled that we finally have accomplished this objective.”

Once found island-wide, the Puaiohi’s range and population size has been reduced by a number of threats: habitat loss and degradation, non-native predators, and introduced mosquito-borne diseases, such as avian malaria. Previous research by Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project and its colleagues has suggested that Puaiohi are somewhat tolerant of avian malaria, and rat predation on nesting females is likely limiting the Puaiohi population’s ability to grow in size. The new study also suggests invasive weeds at lower elevation may restrict Puaiohi’s range.

Given these results, conservation efforts for this species will focus on controlling introduced predators and reversing habitat loss from degradation and invasive weeds.

“Three hundred self-resetting rodent traps have been deployed in the core of the Puaiohi’s range, thanks to funding from the successful crowdfunding campaign – #BirdsNotRats, American Bird Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and US Fish and Wildlife Federation,” stated Dr. Crampton. She continued, “This study allowed us to estimate Puaiohi distribution in remote parts of the species’ range that are difficult to survey, and identify new hotspots of Puaiohi where we should implement these management activities, which will accelerate the species’ rate of recovery.”

KFBRP, USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Diegmann Science Services, and University of Hawaii Hilo Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit worked together develop a special methodology to survey this cryptic bird species in this difficult environment and to use both field-collected and remoted-sensed data to generate a population estimate. KFBRP is a collaboration of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii Manoa that is responsible for conducting research that aids the conservation of Kauai’s endangered forest birds.

Benefits of Beekeeping Course to be Held at UH Hilo and Pahoa

The College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo offers a course on basic beekeeping. Sessions will be held April 4, 11, 18, 25 and May 2 and 4 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in UH Hilo’s College Hall Room 6, and April 22 and May 6 from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Paradise Nectar Apiaries in Pahoa. Tuition is $120 and includes the text book.

Benefits of Beekeeping is designed for anyone new to bees as well as those who have bees and are interested in new ways to relate to and care for them. Participants will learn about treatment‐free beekeeping practices based on bee biology and how to develop a relationship and understanding of bees, their castes, and the roles each caste contributes to the hive.

Instructor Jen Rasmussen has been caring for honey bees on Hawaiʻi Island since 2008. She has developed various methods of maintaining her hives without the use of chemicals or treatments, and organized the beekeeping program at the Island Princess Macadamia Nut Farm.

Private and non-government employers/businesses may qualify for a 50% tuition waiver through the State’s Employment & Training Fund (ETF). For details, visit
http://labor.hawaii.gov/wdd/home/employers/etf/micro/ and apply at least 10 business days before the start of class.

For more information or to register, contact CCECS at 932-7830 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu.

Federal and State Agencies Investigate Death of Hawaiian Monk Seal on Hawaii Island

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources are working together to try and understand what led to the death of an endangered Hawaiian monk seal, tagged as RB18.

R4DP was found dead in February.

The 10-year-old male seal was found dead in a submerged fish pen maintained by Blue Ocean Mariculture in nearshore waters near Keahole Point on Hawai‘i Island on March 5, 2017.  Blue Ocean Mariculture reported to NMFS that the pen was emptied of most of the fish, and they’d removed a large side panel to allow a shark to escape.  The monk seal was reported to NMFS the next day as deceased in the pen.

A necropsy (animal autopsy) was performed on O‘ahu by NMFS veterinarians and biologists. They concluded the seal drowned, as it had no signs of serious injury or disease.

RB18 was often seen in the area feeding on fish outside the net pen.  Its stomach was full of large fish, suggesting that it had foraged very recently prior to its death. Ann Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator in the NMFS Protected Resources Division said, “It is often difficult to determine a precise cause of death for marine mammals because of their complex diving ability, but necropsy observations led to the conclusion that RB18 drowned in the net. We’ve confirmed that this net is now out of service and Blue Ocean Mariculture has removed the top of the pen to further reduce the risk of further entrapments, while the company is in the process of removing the entire pen from the ocean. This is a rare situation and NMFS is investigating the death of the seal.”

In addition to federal permits, Blue Ocean Mariculture has a permit from the State of Hawai‘i.  DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We are greatly saddened by the death of RB18 but are working together to learn from this tragedy and to minimize any additional impacts to monk seals and other protected marine species that may be associated with offshore aquaculture and the Blue Ocean Mariculture operation.” The DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands is also conducting an investigation and review and will prepare a report with recommendations to avoid this from happening in the future.

Coffee Berry Borer Quarantine Expanded to Maui

The Hawaii Board of Agriculture yesterday expanded the coffee berry borer (CBB) quarantine to the island of Maui, effective May 1, 2017. The quarantine, which has been in effect on Hawaii Island and Oahu, restricts the interisland movement of coffee and other CBB hosts and requires treatment and other quarantine protocols. Although recent detections of CBB were located in Hana and Kipahulu, the board decided that an island-wide quarantine was necessary to prevent the further spread of CBB in the state.

Coffee Berry Borer (CBB)

One of the most devastating coffee pests, CBB was first detected in the state in September 2010 in Kona and discovered in Ka`u in May 2011. In December 2014, it was discovered on Oahu and in December 2016 was found on Maui. So far, CBB has not been detected on Kauai, Molokai and Lanai.

This small beetle bores into the coffee “cherry” to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean. Since its detection in Kona, Big Island coffee growers have developed methods to manage the pest, which include using an organic pesticide and field sanitation. Some farms with good management practices have been able to keep infestations down to about 20 percent of the coffee crop.

CBB is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America.  It is still unknown how CBB made its way to Hawaii Island and how it arrived on Oahu and Maui. Hawaii has strict importation rules that require fumigation of all imported green coffee beans to rid the beans of pathogens and insect pests. Coffee plants and plant parts are also restricted from being imported to Hawaii under Plant Quarantine rules.

In addition, HDOA issued a quarantine order that requires a permit from HDOA to transport unroasted coffee beans, coffee plants and plant parts, used coffee bags and coffee harvesting equipment from Hawaii Island to other islands that are not infested with the coffee berry borer.  The rules also require certain treatments and inspection by HDOA Plant Quarantine inspectors prior to shipping. Inspectors will either attach a tag, label or stamp to indicate the shipment passed inspection requirements. For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment.

To view the Notice of Designation of Island of Maui as Expanded Coffee Berry Borer Infested Area Subject to Quarantine, go to: https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2013/01/CBB-Quarantine-Maui.pdf

For more information on CBB in Hawaii go to the HDOA CBB webpage at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/ppc/cbbinfo/ and the UH-CTAHR webpage at: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/CBB.aspx

Entangled Whale Off Maui Cut Free

Sunday, an entangled subadult humpback whale was cut free by a team of trained responders off Maui. The animal was entangled in large gauge electrical cable that was deeply embedded in the whale’s mouth. All gear except what could not be pulled from the whale’s mouth was successfully cut and removed.

The response was part of a two-day effort by responders from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, U.S. Coast Guard, Maui Ocean Safety, Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, and the West Maui response team. The team of responders are authorized under NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response program (NOAA MMHSRP permit # 18786 and state PMAL-2016-212).

The whale was first reported Saturday, off the Pali lookout. A response was mounted from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s response vessel, Kohola, with assistance provided by a patrol boat from the U.S. Coast Guard Station Maui. Saturday’s assessment determined that the whale was entangled in gear exiting both sides of the mouth and heading straight down to the ocean floor. Initial efforts to cut the gear were unsuccessful.

Sunday, the animal was re-sighted in the same vicinity but headed south before letting the trailing gear settle on the ocean floor in about 60 feet of water off Kamaole Beach I. While underway, several tour operators monitored the animal, including Ocean Odyssey (Pacific Whale Foundation), Quicksilver, Redline Rafting, Blue Water Rafting, and Maui Diamond II.

Sunday’s assessments by the response team revealed that the gear was heavy-gauge (~ 5/8-inch) electrical cable. The team used cable cutters to cut both cables leading to the whale’s mouth. It is estimated that around 500 feet of cable was removed from the animal with little gear remaining. The cable had already embedded itself too deeply at the back of the whale’s mouth to pull out remaining gear. However, this represents a significant improvement and the animal illustrated this in its movements and behaviors afterwards. The source of the gear, which is a PVC-insulated electrical-type cable, is still unknown.

Although the animal is slightly emaciated and has gear embedded at the back of the mouth, its overall present condition is good. With the removal of the gear, the chances of its survival have been greatly improved.

Mariners are asked to keep a sharp lookout for this and other whales in distress, but not to approach closely or attempt to assist them. Only trained and well-equipped responders that are authorized under NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program are permitted to assist whales and other marine mammals.

If you sight any marine mammal in distress, maintain 100 yards distance and please call the NOAA 24-hour hotline at 1-888 256-9840. If unable to call, please radio the U.S. Coast Guard on VHF CH. 16 and they will relay the report.

It is illegal to approach a humpback whale closer than 100 yards by any means by sea and 1,000 feet by aircraft.

Hawaii Awards Highlight Successes in the Fight Against Invasive Species

Governor David Ige proclaimed the 5th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) at a ceremony Friday that included agency leaders, legislators, industry champions, and citizens who help project Hawaii from the impacts of invasive species. The Governor presented the proclamation to members of the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), the interagency board responsible for policy direction and cross-sector coordination on invasive species issues. Addressing invasive species is a critical component of this administration’s vision for Hawaii’s future, as described in the recent Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan and the Sustainable Hawaii Initiative.

In partnership with the HISC, legislators presented a series of awards to community members and businesses who have made substantial contributions to invasive species prevention and control. Representatives Richard Creagan, Nicole Lowen, James Tokioka, Dee Morikawa, and Nadine Nakamura joined Senators Mike Gabbard and J. Kalani English in highlighting the importance of this issue for Hawaii. The Governor, legislators, and HISC members were joined by two giant invasive species: costumed versions of a Little Fire Ant and Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, provided by the Oahu Invasive Species Committee.

The awardees for Greatest Hit of 2017, Community Hero, and Business Leader were selected from community nominations, and County MVP awards were selected by the University of Hawaii’s Invasive Species Committees. An award for the Hottest Pest Hotline Report was nominated by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

“While there is much work to do, this event is an opportunity for us to celebrate successes,” said DLNR chair Suzanne Case. “The awardees today exemplify how much Hawaii’s communities care about protecting Hawaii’s natural resources, agriculture, and way of life from invasive species.”

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” In addition to the proclamation from Governor Ige and awards ceremony, HISAW 2017 included a student video contest, community presentations, and numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the state. Full information is available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/.

2017 HISAW Awards

COMMUNITY HERO

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

BUSINESS LEADER

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

GREATEST HIT

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

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

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

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

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

MAUI COUNTY MVP

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

OAHU MVP

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

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

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

Hawaii Electric Light Opens Third Electric Vehicle Fast Charger on Hawaii Island

Hawaii Electric Light announces the opening of a new utility-owned and operated electric vehicle DC fast charger accessible to the Hawaii Island community. The company held a dedication ceremony for the unit located at KTA Super Stores in Waimea Center today. This is the first DC fast charger, also known as a Level 3 charger, to serve the Waimea community. The unit joins two fast chargers located at Hawaii Electric Light’s offices in Hilo and Kona.

“We’re pleased to have KTA Super Stores as our first host on Hawaii Island and applaud them for supporting electric transportation and clean energy,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “The Taniguchi family and their employees have humbly served island residents for more than a hundred years. KTA excels at anticipating and meeting customer needs, and this partnership is one example of their commitment to give back to the community in which they serve.”

Hawaii Electric Light operates the equipment at no cost to the host for installation, maintenance or electricity. Hosts provide the requested space and minimal assistance for operation. Hosting a fast charger helps with compliance of the Hawaii state law that requires public parking lots with at least 100 parking spaces to have at least one exclusive parking space equipped with a charging station for electric vehicles. Additional host sites are being sought.

“We are excited to partner with Hawaii Electric Light in helping to bring our North Hawaii community its first Level 3 DC fast charger. Access to charging stations for electric vehicles gives our community more options and opportunities to support a clean environment,” said Toby Taniguchi, KTA Super Stores president. “On behalf of KTA Super Stores, congratulations to Hawaii Electric Light for their leadership in bringing North Hawaii its first Level 3 DC fast charger to fruition.”

Level 3 fast chargers can recharge a near-depleted EV battery to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes, and even less time for smaller recharges. The DC Fast Charger has both a CHAdeMO connection (used mostly by Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Kia Soul EV) and a CCS connection (used by the BMW i3). The chargers are available 24/7 with three different rates ranging from $7.00 to $8.00 per session depending on time of use. Session prices may change based on the changing cost of electricity. Drivers will be able to safely operate the charger and pay by major credit card or by a Greenlots subscription.

“The Big Island Electric Vehicle Association (BIEVA) is committed to working with Hawaii Electric Light and Nissan with helping to move the EV movement forward and that’s the key thing,” said Richard Castro, BIEVA vice president. “There are many road blocks with range anxiety but knowing these fast chargers are here makes a big difference.”

To become a DC Fast Charger host site, call 808-969-0358 or mail Hawaii Electric Light (GoEV), Engineering Department, P.O. Box 1027, Hilo, HI 96721. Detailed information on electric vehicles also is available at https://www.hawaiielectriclight.com/goev.

New Satellite Image of Lava Flow Released

This satellite image was captured on Wednesday, March 8, by the NASA/USGS Landsat 8 satellite. Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The image shows that breakouts continue in several areas on the flow field. The largest breakout is about 2 km (1.2 miles) southeast of the vent. Smaller breakouts are present above and on the pali. Near the base of the pali, on the coastal plain, a small breakout is active. A thermal anomaly is also present at the Kamokuna ocean entry.