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Hawaii County Department of Environmental Management Understaffed and Overworked – Appliances Stack Up

The recent Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island of Hawaii has had everyone on edge the last few months and both State and County officials have had their hands full dealing with this outbreak.  Thousands and thousands of tires have been disposed of since the county started accepting tires at the transfer stations.

Folks have been noticing that the Hilo Transfer station in general has had a lot of e-waste and appliances stacking up.

Appliances at the Hilo Landfill on 4/30/2016.

Appliances at the Hilo Landfill on 4/30/2016.

Recently Doug Arnott, from Arnott’s Lodge in Hilo, asked the following question in the Facebook Group Opala in Paradise to Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd, Head of the County of Hawaii’s Department of Environmental Management:

Bobby Jean Leithead Todd can you give us an update on the ever growing pile of refrigerators and stoves at the Hilo Station…it seems that a good economy is causing old units to be dumped faster than they can be removed….or is this related to refrigerant removal or a slowdown in scrap metal buying by China…can we get an update please

Leithead-Todd responded:

We’ve had to pull manpower and equipment away to deal with tires and other dengue related clean ups. Earlier we had it pile up as we had a contract dispute and we could not move them until the contract issue was resolved at the state level. Now we are moving the white goods out but they seem to be coming back in as fast as we dispose of them. We hope to get ahead of it after we stop accepting tires.

Hawaii Lawmakers Provide $100 Million for Cooling Schools and Energy Efficiency

House and Senate conferees today provided $100 million to the Department of Education to install air conditioning and heat abatement equipment to cool 1,000 public school classrooms throughout the state and to establish a sustainable schools initiative.

Capital

In his State of the State address, Governor David Ige proposed borrowing $100 million from the state’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) program to cool 1,000 public school classrooms.  In response, lawmakers drafted House Bill 2569 and Senate Bill 3126, proposing varying methods of funding, but in essence, working toward the same end.  Both bills were sent to conference with unspecified funding for the conferees to decide.

During negotiations, the conferees agreed to $100 million in general funding to immediately begin carrying out the work of installing cooling and energy efficiency upgrades.  The measure now goes to the full House and Senate on Tuesday, May 3, for approval.

“The faster we can reduce our electric costs, the more money we can put back into helping students and teachers.  If the DOE can make progress reducing electric costs even a couple percent per year, that could still save millions over the long term that could be better spent in our classrooms, rather than going to utility bills,” said Rep. Chris Lee, Conference Committee chair, who took the lead for the House on the pair of bills.

Kauai Man Faces Felony Charges in Connection with Pregnant Monk Seal Beating

Arrest Result of Joint Federal, State & County Investigation

19 year old Shylo Akuna of Eleele, Kauai was arrested this afternoon by officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) special agents in connection with the beating of a 17-year old pregnant monk seal on April 26, 2016.

Shylo Akuna

Shylo Akuna

A short video clip of the incident was widely posted on social media and was picked up by news organizations around the country. That video, supported by eyewitness accounts led to Akuna’s arrest. He is being held at the Kauai Police Department pending further disposition on suspicion of “taking a monk seal.” This includes harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing or collecting an endangered or threatened aquatic species or terrestrial wildlife. If convicted of this Class C felony, Akuna could face one (1) to five (5) years in prison. Additionally the state environmental court may impose a fine of up to $50,000.

DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel said, “Thanks to the joint efforts of our Kauai branch officers, special agents from the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, Kauai Police Department, and Hawaii State Sheriffs we were able to investigate this crime, make an arrest, and bring this part of the case to a quick conclusion.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case added, “We’re grateful to the concerned citizens who brought this action to our attention and were willing to step forward with additional information to help law enforcement identify and arrest the suspect. We’re fortunate that the Hawaii State Legislature passed HRS 195D which provides very stiff penalties for these repugnant behaviors.

Ann M. Garrett, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources, with the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office said, “NOAA Fisheries sincerely appreciates the outpouring of community support for RK30, the Hawaiian monk seal involved in this incident. She’s an important and productive member of the seal population. It’s clear from this outpouring that folks care a great deal about monk seals, and don’t want to see them harmed. The quick action by DLNR DOCARE, the Kauai Police Department, and NOAA OLE is very commendable, and likely would not have been as successful without the support of caring community members.”

Anyone who witnesses a monk seal or any other endangered or threatened species being threatened or injured in any manner by a person is urged to immediately call the NOAA Hotline at 1-800-853-1964 or the DOCARE statewide hotline at 643-DLNR.

Visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 Creates $151,246,200 in Economic Benefits

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,832,660 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2015 spent $151,246,200 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,834 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $189,391,100.

NPS Photo of visitors at Sulphur Banks in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

NPS Photo of visitors at Sulphur Banks in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

The park’s 2015 visitation is up 8.25 percent from 2014 (1,693,005 visitors), and reflects a steady trend of rising visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park since 2009. The park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year along with the National Park Service, shares two of earth’s most active volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, and native ecosystems with local residents and visitors.

“We are pleased to again report an increase in both visitation to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the important economic impact park visitors have by spending money and creating jobs in our local community,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.  “National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s clearly a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities,” Orlando said.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economist Catherine Cullinane Thomas and National Park Service economist Lynne Koontz.  The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added and output effects by sector for national, state and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: http://go.nps.gov/vse or https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm.

To learn more about national parks in Hawai‘i and how the National Park Service works with Hawai‘i communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/hawaii.

Roller Derby Triple Header – Waimea, Hawaii Pacific and Hilo Duke It Out

Paradise Roller Girls will host a full night of roller derby on April 30 including a round robin of bouts with Pacific Roller Girls and Waimea Wranglers Rough Rollers.

Roller derby triple header on April 30 will be held at the Civic at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Tickets are $5. Hilo Tavern will host the afterparty where the cover charge is waived if a bout ticket stub is presented.

Roller derby triple header on April 30 will be held at the Civic at 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.. Tickets are $5. Hilo Tavern will host the afterparty where the cover charge is waived if a bout ticket stub is presented.

Taking place in the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, the first bout between Waimea and Pacific is scheduled for 2 p.m.. Pacific will then battle PRG at 4:30 p.m. and end the night with PRG playing Waimea at 7 p.m.

“This bout is our first home game of the season and we are pumped to have people come cheer us on,” Kelli “Kellfire” Bolger, Paradise Roller Girls skater, said. “We’ve been working really hard in preparation.”

Between each sanctioned bout will be a junior derby game where PRG’s junior skaters will be skating against each other during a 10 minute mini bout.

Vendor, sponsor, and merchandise booths will be on site. Hilo Tavern will host an after party with no cover fee if a ticket stub is presented upon entry.

Admission is $5 for adults and free for children under the age of 5. Tickets can be bought at Jungle Love, CD Wizzard, Mt. View Video, Kadota Liquor, Lucy’s Taqueria, at the door or from any of the Paradise Roller Girls.

Volcanoes National Park Reopens Nāmakanipaio Campground

Nāmakanipaio Campground in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has reopened. Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, which manages the campground under a concession contract for the park, is taking reservations immediately.

Volcano Cabins

The popular campground has been closed since last September for the removal of large, falling and hazardous non-native eucalyptus trees in the area.

“We mahalo the public for their patience while we ensure the campground is safe again,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We are delighted to reopen ahead of summer,” she said.

Nāmakanipaio is popular with local residents and visitors, and is nestled near the summit of Kīlauea volcano at 4,000-feet, off Highway 11. Established in the 1960s, today the campground features drive-in campsites for tent camping, restrooms, showers, barbecues, and 10 rustic one-room A-frame cabins. The cabins feature bunk beds and can sleep four.

Campsite rates for tent camping are $15 a night, and the A-frame cabins start at $80 a night ($50/night for Hawai‘i residents). To make reservations for Nāmakanipaio campsites or cabins, contact Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company at (808) 756-9625, or visit http://www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com/cabins-campsites/.  Park entrance fees apply (good for seven days).

Now that the hazardous eucalyptus trees have been removed, native tree species, including ‘ōhi‘a and koa, can flourish. The campground has a fresh light and open look during the day, Mauna Loa is again visible, and at night, campers can enjoy a wider view of the sky, illuminated by stars and the glow from the lava lake in Halema‘uma‘u Crater. The Jaggar Museum observation deck, the closest vantage point to this eruption site, is an easy half-mile hike from Nāmakanipaio.

Milestone Reached in Hawai‘i Island Dengue Fever Outbreak

With no reports of recent incidences of locally acquired dengue fever in 30 days, the state and County of Hawai‘i announced a significant milestone in the Hawai‘i Island outbreak that began in October. While the outbreak seems to have come to a halt, Gov. David Ige, along with other state and local officials caution the public not to let their guard down in the fight against mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit.

Mosquito Bite

The state and Hawai‘i County are standing down certain emergency response activities related to the dengue fever outbreak after 30 days of no new locally acquired cases. This decision rests on the fact that three periods of the maximum human incubation period of ten days have passed. The final day of the infectious period for the last reported case was March 27. However, as per routine operations, the Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH) continues to immediately investigate all travel related cases and conduct mosquito assessments and/or treatment of potential areas of mosquito exposure.

“This milestone could not have been reached without the diligent efforts and teamwork by the Department of Health and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency,” said Gov. Ige. “While this outbreak seems to be ending, our statewide response to mosquito-borne diseases must continue. We must remain vigilant in our mosquito prevention and abatement practices, be ready to respond to the Zika virus, and continue working together as a state to ‘Fight the Bite.’”

Since Oct. 28, 2015, DOH and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency (HCCDA) have been actively investigating and responding to locally-acquired cases of dengue fever on Hawai‘i Island. Dengue is not endemic to Hawai‘i, but it is intermittently imported from endemic areas by infected travelers. As of April 27, 2016, 264 cases of locally-acquired dengue fever have been confirmed on Hawai‘i  Island with illnesses occurring as early as Sept. 11, 2015.

“By no means are we out of the clear,” said Darryl Oliveira, administrator of the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency. “Cooperation and collaboration between the state and county have been exemplary but we continue to identify actions and efforts that we can improve on in the future. We appreciate the tremendous initiative shown by the community in assisting with mosquito abatement and encourage everyone to continue taking proactive measures around their homes and neighborhoods to keep our state safe.”

Over the course of the outbreak, DOH’s Vector Control team surveyed a total of 523 private properties and 310 public spaces. Of that count, 220 private properties and 65 public spaces were sprayed and/or treated for mosquitoes. A total of more than 1,900 reported potential cases were evaluated and/or tested by DOH disease investigators and State Laboratories Division staff.

Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler added, “The fight against mosquitoes is far from over and we must do everything in our power to protect ourselves and our communities from the risk of mosquito borne diseases. We continue to receive and investigate reports of travel-related suspect cases of dengue fever, Zika virus and chikungunya on all islands. As Zika continues to spread rapidly overseas, we must take precautionary measures to prevent any locally acquired cases from taking hold in our state.”

“Knowing the dengue fever outbreak has been halted is welcome news for Hawaii’s tourism industry, especially for the travel partners, employees and residents who rely on its continued success,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Travelers considering a visit to the Hawaiian Islands in the coming months can make their plans with confidence and without the hesitation that dengue may have been causing them.”

On April 11, Gov. Ige signed a supplemental proclamation to extend the state’s emergency period for mosquito borne illnesses. Under the extended emergency proclamation, DOH and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), with input from county partners, will continue ongoing efforts to develop a comprehensive response plan detailing appropriate actions and measures dependent on the state’s current risk associated with mosquito borne diseases. A statewide public awareness and education campaign will kick off this year to ensure people understand the risks of mosquito-borne diseases and how to best prevent these illnesses in Hawai‘i.

Pregnant women need to take special precautions against the Zika virus and should avoid travel to areas where Zika is actively circulating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that Zika can cause microcephaly in newborns, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared with other babies of the same sex and age. CDC has also confirmed that Zika can be spread from an infected man to his sexual partners. It is still unknown how long the virus can be spread in this way after the infected male’s symptoms have cleared.

For additional information about Zika virus and precautions, visit DOH’s Disease Outbreak Control Division’s website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dib/disease/zika_virus/. For travel information and advisories, visit CDC’s website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.

Lobster and Kona Crab Season Closes May 1

If you love your fresh-caught local lobster or Kona crab, you’d best catch it quick because the season closes this Sunday.  The closed season for ula (spiny lobster), ula papapa (slipper lobster) and Kona crab runs from May 1 through the end of August.  During that time it’s illegal to take, possess, or sell these shellfish.

Spiny Lobster

According to Suzanne Case, chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, “These rules are in place to protect lobsters and Kona crabs during the summer months, which are the peak of their reproductive season, and to help ensure their populations will continue to be sustainable.”

Kona Crab

However, any commercial marine dealer may sell, or any hotel, restaurant, or other public eating house may serve spiny or slipper lobster lawfully caught during the open season by first obtaining a license to do so pursuant to section 13-74-41, Hawaii Administrative Rules.

During the open season catching, taking or possessing of female spiny and slipper lobsters and female Kona crab is prohibited.  Also, any spiny or slipper lobster, or Kona crab, caught with eggs must immediately be returned to the waters from which it was taken. Taking or killing of females is prohibited year round.

The Hawai‘i Fishing Regulations booklet, available at all Division of Aquatic Resources offices and most fishing supply stores, shows how to determine the sex of spiny lobsters and Kona crabs.  Or go online to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/how-to-determine-sex-of-regulated-invertebrates/

For more information on regulations concerning these and other marine invertebrates, including minimum sizes, go to http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/marine-invertebrates/  or call the Division of Aquatic Resources.

To report any violation of these or other fishing regulations call the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement at 643-DLNR.

Update on Response Activities for Big Island Dengue Fever Outbreak – Health Department Daily Web Site Updates End

The State Health Department is no longer updating their website as of 4/26/2016

The State Health Department is no longer updating their website as of 4/26/2016

What: The State and County will announce the status of the Hawai‘i Island dengue fever outbreak and a new phase of response activities

Who:             

  • Governor David Ige
  • Mayor Billy Kenoi, County of Hawai‘i
  • Darryl Oliveira, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Administrator
  • Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of Health
  • Maj. Gen. Arthur “Joe” Logan, State Adjutant General and Director of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency
  • George Szigeti, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority President & CEO

When: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. 

Where: State Capitol, 5th floor, Governor’s Ceremonial Room

We plan to live stream the event through the governor’s website.

End of Dengue

EPA Cites Honolulu Wood Treating for Producing and Selling Mislabeled Pesticide

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Honolulu Wood Treating of Kapolei, Oahu, which will pay a $33,750 penalty for producing and selling a mislabeled pesticide on five occasions in 2013 and 2014 under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

Honolulu Wood TreatmentThe Hawaii Department of Agriculture conducted inspections for EPA at the company’s facility in 2014 and 2015 and referred this case to EPA for follow-up enforcement. During the inspections, the Department found that Clear-Bor F.T., a product used to protect wood from termites and wood decay fungus, did not meet federal label requirements. Specifically, the first aid information and EPA Establishment number were incorrect. The company has since fully corrected the product label.

“Mislabeled pesticides put people at risk,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Every company must ensure its products are properly labeled to protect the health and safety of those who use them.”

EPA requires companies to revise the first aid statements on their pesticide product labels to include medically up-to-date language. The instructions on the non-compliant containers of Clear-Bor F.T. would  have likely interfered with proper medical treatment, as the label instructed the user to “induce vomiting by touching back of throat with finger” in case of ingestion. Current medical first aid instructions no longer recommend inducing vomiting.

The required EPA Establishment number was also found to be incorrect for the product.  This number is used to identify where the product was last produced. It is crucial to maintaining product integrity, as production includes formulating, packaging, labeling and any alteration of the product prior to sale.

For more information about the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-federal-insecticide-fungicide-and-rodenticide-act

300,000 Urchins Continue to Clean Invasive Alien Seaweed

David Cohen is a proud papa for good reason.  He and his team, working at the Anuenue Fisheries Research Center on Oahu’s Sand Island, have now planted 300,000 Native Hawaiian collector urchins (Tripneustes gratilla) into Kaneohe Bay to control two species of invasive algae.

Sea urchins (Tripneustes gratilla)

Sea urchins (Tripneustes gratilla)

From the program’s modest beginnings six years ago, when the urchin hatchery at Anuenue first began producing urchins for planting in the Windward Oahu bay, until now; the project is considered a resounding success.  “We did our first release or urchins at Kaneohe in 2011 and recent surveys of the patch reefs there show a significant number of them are free of seaweed,“ Cohen explained.

Urchins are ideally suited for the work they perform.  They are native to Hawaii.  They have relatively few predators, they breed in captivity, and they don’t swim away like fish. While Cohen certainly credits the collector urchins for their part in scouring the bay of invasive algae (Kappaaphycus and Eucheuma), he also points out that it has declined naturally over the past year.  It’s believed this reduction is due to warm ocean conditions associated with El Nino.

Low levels of algae still remains in the bay and it could eventually grow back.  The DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) is devoting additional resources towards urchin production to take advantage of this period of low algae levels and to try to gain more ground for the fight against invasive seaweed.

The life of a collector urchin destined for Kaneohe Bay begins when DAR teams collect brood animals about once a month.  By the time they reach the hatchery they are usually ready to spawn.  The eggs are fertilized, larvae are free swimming within 24 hours and they are fed a diet of cultured phytoplankton.  After approximately 3-4 weeks they settle down and transform into a sea urchin and then are moved from the “hatchery” stage to the “nursery” stage.  In their nursery tanks they feed on naturally growing biofilms.  When they’re about a quarter inch in size, in addition to eating biofilms, they are also fed cultured seaweed.  Over the course of about five months they grow into the size of a dime and then make the journey by truck and then boat to begin their work munching algae.

The invasive algae was first introduced into the bay in a failed experiment to create a carrageenan (an additive often found in coconut and almond milk) industry in Hawaii. The algae became a nuisance species that quickly spread over the patch reefs of Kaneohe Bay, smothering out the vibrant corals.  Over the years, Cohen and his team have refined their nursery and hatchery protocols.  In 2014, they were able to raise and release 112,000 urchins. “With luck and the constant updating of best practices for our work, in 2016 we hope to exceed that number and quickly reach a half million urchins released,” Cohen concluded.

Hawaii House and Senate Budget Conferees Agree on Funding to Increase Vector Control Staffing – Concern for Dengue and Zika Drives Need

House and Senate conferees on the state budget today agreed to provide $1,270,120 to bolster the state Department of Health Vector Control Branch to focus on controlling populations of animals and insects that spread disease.

Mosquito Bite

Hawaii Island’s recent outbreak of dengue fever and the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, which are spread by mosquitoes, have highlighted the continued importance of vector control, and House and Senate conferees want to ensure that the state is prepared to adequately short circuit, monitor and respond to any future outbreaks.

“This funding will help re-establish the vector control branch, which has been reduced over the past few years by furloughs and budget cuts,” said Sylvia Luke, chairperson of the House Finance Committee.  “In making these appropriations, the department will be able to add 20 new positions to monitor populations of vectors such as mosquitoes and rats, and to respond appropriately when a threat arises.”

Before the dengue fever outbreak in October, 2015, the state had 25 vector control positions, but 8 were vacant. With the added 20 new positions, there will be a total of 45 people in vector control when all positions are filled.

“Infectious disease has been and will continue to be one of our key challenges in a world made smaller and more connected with modern day air travel,” said Jill Tokuda, chairperson of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  “The state’s recent slow response to the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island was a wake-up call for all us.  We must be more vigilant in anticipating and responding to such outbreaks spread by mosquitoes and other vectors.”

In addition, the budget items agreed upon today included:

  • $6.9 million for public school transportation services;
  • $5.2 million for utilities for public schools;
  • $2.5 million for new fire trucks, firefighter equipment and fire retardant suits to ensure airport safety;
  • $1.5 million to fund a U.S. geographical survey study on Hawaii streams;
  • $1.4 million for port security and safety boats to reduce impact of natural disasters;
  • $1.25 million for maintenance and replacement of equipment at UH community colleges;
  • $400,000 to support beach restoration and protection projects and studies;
  • $180,000 for hydrologist and project development specialist positions for public land management for the disposition of water rights lease management and oversight; and
  • $162,354 for physician salary increases for better access to medical services for the Department of Public Safety.

The agreements were part of House and Senate conferees continued negotiations on a final version of HB1700, the state budget bill.  Earlier in the session, the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee crafted their respective versions of the budget.

Lawmakers will continue to meet to iron out differences between the two versions through April 29, the deadline for all fiscal bills to pass out of conference committee.  A final conference draft will then be voted upon by the Legislature and if approved, will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Budget worksheets detailing agreements and disagreements in the state and judiciary budget bills are available on the Capitol website at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/budget/2016budget.aspx

The conference committee is scheduled to reconvene on Friday, April 22, at 2:30 p.m. in room 309.

Island Schools Launch Recycling Drive and Environmental Awareness Campaign – Phone Book Recycling Drive

The Berry Company, LLC, proud publisher of the Hawaiian Telcom Directory, is partnering with schools on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai, Maui and Molokai to launch the #SmallBizBigOutcome recycling drive and environmental awareness campaign. The campaign runs through May 15, and is in conjunction with the 2016 Hawaiian Telcom Directory delivery on the neighbor islands.

Phone books can still be seen scattered through out Hilo.

Phone books can still be seen scattered through out Hilo.

Local schools on each island will compete to collect the most outdated telephone directories, which will keep the directories out of landfills through recycling. For the first time, all participating schools will receive a cash prize for their involvement in the program, and one school will win a grand prize. The grand prize winner will be selected based on book collection totals and efforts to engage and educate students about recycling and protecting the local environment.

“Berry’s recycling drive helps to protect the local environment, but also raises funds for neighbor island schools, and we’re grateful for the support from our local community partners that help bring this campaign to life,” said John Lambert, branch manager of The Berry Company in Hawaii. “We love seeing how students of all ages get involved and learn first-hand the difference recycling can make.”

Hawaiian Telcom Directories are 100-percent recyclable. After the close of the contest, the telephone directories are shipped off-island for recycling. On Hawaii, Kauai, Lanai and Maui the materials are converted into an array of new products, including building insulation, writing and copier papers, newsprint and paper towels. The directories from Molokai are processed at a waste-to-energy facility where they are used to generate a valuable source of renewable energy for Oahu. Recycling and environmental sustainability are important initiatives year round, so residences and businesses throughout Hawaii should check with their local recycling department for more information on recycling programs offered in their area.

Berry is also partnering with local food banks, including Hawaii Foodbank, Hawaii Foodbank – Kauai Branch, The Food Basket and the Maui Foodbank, to host a community food drive. By using the recyclable directory delivery bags, Berry encourages the community to fill the bags with nonperishable food items and donate them to local food banks.

For more information about reusing, repurposing and recycling, visit Berry’s online hub dedicated to spotlighting business and residents working to create positive change, SmallBizBigOutcome.com. There you can also find more information about the recycling drive, drop-off locations and hours, as well as a list of the participating schools and food banks.

HVO Lava Update – Scattered Breakouts Northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō… No Overall Advancement

Scattered breakouts northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō… No overall advancement

hvo413aSurface breakouts remain scattered northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, with a slight retreat in the reach of active breakouts since the last overflight on March 25.

One of the more vigorous breakouts on the flow field today, producing a sheet of blue-glassy pāhoehoe.

One of the more vigorous breakouts on the flow field today, producing a sheet of blue-glassy pāhoehoe.

Today, the farthest active lava was 5.7 km (3.5 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

Views were hampered today by sporadic downpours. Once the rain passed, areas of active breakouts were evident by the larger steam plumes coming from the surface (for example, at the top center of the photograph).

Views were hampered today by sporadic downpours. Once the rain passed, areas of active breakouts were evident by the larger steam plumes coming from the surface (for example, at the top center of the photograph).

Much of the activity was at the forest boundary, burning trees and creating numerous smoke plumes.

One benefit of passing showers today at Kīlauea’s summit was a double rainbow.

Click to enlarge

View of Halemaʻumaʻu plume from HVO . Click to enlarge

Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is at the right side of the photo, and the gas plume from the active lava lake can be seen drifting towards the southwest. At the far right edge of the image, visitors take in the view at Jaggar Overlook.

What Does the New Rural Hawaii Look Like and Who/What Controls its Agricultural Future?

Agricultural Land Use will be the topic of a public presentation at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo on Wednesday, May 4, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. in UCB Room 100.
Ag Lands
The State of Agricultural Land Use in Hawai‘i 2016: Crops, Locations and Trends will highlight the findings of the 2015 Statewide Agricultural Land Use Baseline produced by UH Hilo’s Geography Department’s Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization (SDAV) Lab for the State Department of Agriculture to help guide discussions and to set Hawaiʻi’s agricultural priorities.

Project Manager Jeffrey Melrose and Principal Investigator Dr. Ryan Perroy will address a number of critical questions during their presentation, including:

  • What happened to over 200,000 acres of former sugar and pineapple fields?
  • What does the new Rural Hawaiʻi look like and who/what controls its agricultural future?
  • How has the supply of agricultural water fared in the post-plantation transition?
  • What forces shape the future of Hawaiʻi’s food self-reliance?
  • What is the status for export and niche crops in Hawaiʻi’s agricultural mix?

The presentation is hosted by UH Hilo’s Geography and Environmental Studies Department, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, and the College of Continuing Education and Community Service.

For more information, contact Jeffrey Melrose at (808) 989-8322 or Dr. Bruce Mathews at (808) 217-7393.

Senator Schatz Visits CDC Headquarters, Meets with Top Official to Discuss Zika, Dengue Response in Hawaii

As the outbreaks of Zika and dengue continue to threaten communities in the United States and around the world, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) headquarters and met with top officials to discuss the CDC’s response to outbreaks in Hawai‘i.

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle

Senator Brian Schatz in Puna after Hurricane Iselle

During the meetings, Senator Schatz called for stronger vector-control programs to fight the spread of mosquito-borne viruses. Zika and dengue are transmitted by the same mosquito population, making vector-control programs a key component to preventing outbreaks.

“Dengue remains a public health emergency on Hawai‘i Island, and with new possible Zika cases in the state, we need more support from the CDC to fight these outbreaks,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. “While we continue to secure more funding, I am pleased we were able to get a commitment from the CDC to address dengue and the threat of Zika in Hawai‘i.”

Last month, Senator Schatz led eight senators in calling on the Senate Appropriations Committee to increase funding for mosquito-control programs.

During an appropriations hearing in February, Senator Schatz urged the Director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, to coordinate with state and local governments to improve mosquito-control programs to help stop the spread of both dengue and Zika.

Hawai‘i has had over 250 confirmed cases of dengue since September 2015, mostly concentrated on Hawai‘i Island. Like dengue, Zika can be transmitted by mosquitos. Zika has been spreading throughout the Americas and has been linked with neurological ailments such as paralysis and devastating birth defects. The CDC has issued its highest alert level for Zika, while the World Health Organization has declared it a global health emergency.

Halemaumau Summit Lava Lake Level Drops

HVO geologist uses a laser rangefinder to measure the depth of the lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea in the Overlook crater. The lake level was about 58 m (190 ft) below the crater rim this afternoon.

Lava Lake Drops

In recent days the lake level has dropped about 35 m (115 ft) as tiltmeters at the summit have recorded a larger than usual deflationary trend. The spattering of the lava lake (middle right of photograph) was triggered by a small rockfall from the north crater wall directly above. Large rockfalls into the lake typically cause small explosions that hurl molten lava onto the rim of Halemaʻumaʻu Crater, one of the hazards of this area. The tripod in lower right supports one of the Web cams used to track activity of the lava lake.

Thermal Image taken this evening at 7:15 Hawaii Standard Time:

This image is from a temporary thermal camera located on the south rim of Halemaʻumaʻu and looking steeply toward the north at the active Halemaʻumaʻu vent.  The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit) for this camera model, and scales automatically based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame.  Thick fume, image pixel size and other factors often result in image temperatures being lower than actual surface temperatures.

This image is from a temporary thermal camera located on the south rim of Halemaʻumaʻu and looking steeply toward the north at the active Halemaʻumaʻu vent. The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit) for this camera model, and scales automatically based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame. Thick fume, image pixel size and other factors often result in image temperatures being lower than actual surface temperatures.

Entrance Fees Waived at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for National Park Week

Celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary – and the centennial of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park – during National Park Week, April 16-24. Entrance fees will be waived nine full days, and a “National Park Rx Day” will be held on Sunday, April 24.

Volcano at night

Visitors gather every night at the Jaggar Museum observation deck to witness the summit eruption of Kīlauea volcano from Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day. NPS Photo/Michael Szoenyi

“There’s no better way to celebrate the centennial anniversaries of both Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and the National Park Service than by inviting our community and visitors to enjoy the park at no charge,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Your park ‘ohana welcomes you to join us for a special program, reconnect with your favorite trail, or stay after dark to admire the splendor of glowing lava within Halema‘uma‘u Crater,” she said.

For Junior Ranger Day on Sat., April 16, keiki 17 and younger are invited to join park rangers in Kahuku for a fun day of discovery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants will hike the historic lower Palm Trail, and learn to make traditional string figures called hei. Call (808) 985-6019 to register, limited to 25 participants.

On Wed., April 20 kupuna hula group Haunani’s Aloha Expressions will perform for free at the Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

On the last day of National Park Week, Sun., April 24, from 10 a.m. to noon, the park will host a “National Park Rx Day,” a community health initiative to “prescribe” time in parks to promote wellness. Join park rangers and Dr. Craig Kadooka on an easy one-mile roundtrip hike of upper ‘Iliahi Trail. Meet at Kīlauea Visitor Center lānai at 10 a.m. The first 200 walkers will receive a reusable water bottle and fresh fruit. Hawaiian practitioners Edna and Sam Baldado will demonstrate the heath benefits of kalo, and Ka‘ohu Monfort will share how Hawaiians use plants to heal and cure. HMSA will also provide a table with health information.

A hiker takes in the coastal views at ‘Āpua Point in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank. ​

A hiker takes in the coastal views at ‘Āpua Point in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank. ​

National Park Week event sponsors include Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes’ National Park, Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, and Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016. The park provides countless ways for visitors to connect with and appreciate Hawaiian culture, active volcanoes, and native plants and animals. It was designated as a World Heritage Site (1987) and an International Biosphere Reserve (1980).

Hokulea Crew Visits NASA Kennedy Space Center

Continuing their journey of connecting ocean wayfinding with space exploration, Hokulea crewmembers visited Florida’s NASA Kennedy Space Center today and engaged with the center’s staff. Polynesian Voyaging Society president and pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson also took the opportunity to speak to the NASA team on Hawaii-born NASA astronaut Lacy Veach’s contribution to space voyaging, and how Veach inspired the canoe’s Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

NASA Hokulea

“Coming to NASA for me has been an amazing celebration,” Thompson expressed during his speech today to a crowd of about 160 people that included both Hokulea and NASA crew. “I made a promise to Lacy back in ’95 when we lost him, that we’re going to go. It took us 22 years from the idea to actually leave, to get prepared to do something as dangerous as what we’re doing now. Lacy is our navigator on this voyage, and for that, this is the most important two days for me.”

NASA Hokulea Nainoa

Yesterday, the crew honored Veach along with Ellison Onizuka, another Hawaii-born astronaut for their extraordinary contributions to space voyaging, in an intimate ceremony onboard the canoe. Hokulea crewmembers conducted a star compass activity with local students, and pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld led a navigation presentation for the public visiting the center. Wednesday’s activities also included a tour of the NASA headquarters: Hokulea crewmembers visited the facilities where astronauts would get suited up before their flights, NASA’s vehicle assembly building and the launch control center.

Nasa Hokulea Building

Hokulea is scheduled to depart Titusville on Friday, April 8, and continue her journey up the east coast. For the most up-to-date schedule, visit http://www.hokulea.com/hokuleas-planned-east-coast-port-stops/.

To follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, visit http://hokulea.com/track-the-voyage

Shipman, Kurtistown Park Will be Closed April 14 for Fumigation Treatment

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation will close both the Herbert Shipman Park pavilion in Kea‘au and the Kurtistown Park pavilion on Thursday, April 14, to perform fumigation treatments.

Shipman Park

Other park areas, including ball fields, outdoor athletic courts and parking areas, will remain open. Both pavilions will be available for public use starting at 6 a.m. Friday, April 15.

The Department of Parks and Recreation apologizes for any inconvenience the temporary closures may cause and thanks park patrons for their understanding while works to maintain the recreational sites.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@hawaiicounty.gov.