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Rescued Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl Killed In Auto Collision

A young Pueo, or Hawaiian Short-eared Owl, rescued in late March, was killed by a car on the highway between Waimea and Hanapepe two months after it had been released. The owl was originally spotted on March 22, 2017 by Dr. André Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), who found it on the side of the road in Ele ele where it had also been struck by a car. He took the injured Pueo to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) facility at the Kaua‘i Humane Society for treatment and rehabilitation.

Raine said, “This is a sad end to a successful rehabilitation story, which involved the hard work of the dedicated staff at SOS and the Hawaii Wildlife Center who were successful in returning this young bird to health and releasing it back into the wild in late April. Tragically, as with so many of our endangered native birds, the Pueo was struck again by an automobile – this time fatally. This serves as yet another reminder for all of us who drive on Kauai’s roads, that we need to slow down and be aware of owls, Nene, fledgling seabirds and other birds that may be feeding or flying alongside or near roads and highways.”

Tracy Anderson of SOS, who examined the dead owl, said that the injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle. The bird was found 6 miles (as the bird flies) from the release location and was in good body condition which meant that she had been hunting and feeding successfully post-release. Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people. Anderson reminds people, “The act of throwing trash out your car window not only impacts the environment visually, but can have direct and detrimental effects on wild birds like pueo and nene.”

Over the past few months a public education campaign was initiated by DLNR and other partners to encourage people to watch for nene (native Hawaiian goose and Hawai‘i State Bird) alongside roadways. This included a public service announcement (PSA) that aired repeatedly on Kaua‘i’s cable television system, news releases and videos, and additional roadside signage in areas where nene are frequently spotted.

This is not the only Pueo found dead on the roads – two more dead Pueo were found on the same day as the rehabilitated bird in other parts of the island.

Another Pueo, also likely hurt in a car-bird collision on O‘ahu’s North Shore earlier this year could not be rehabilitated and had to be put to sleep. An entire family of nene depicted in a DLNR video, resting and feeding near the Hanalei River Bridge on Kaua‘i were also killed by a car.

Raine, Anderson, and others who work with native, wild birds agree that if drivers slow down and pay close attention in areas populated by birds, this will help reduce the number of deadly collisions between birds and cars.

Hawaii Department of Health Fines Aloha Petroleum, LTD., $200,000 for Fuel Tank Violations

The Hawaii State Department of Health Underground Storage Tank (UST) Section has issued a Notice of Violation against Aloha Petroleum, Ltd., the registered owner and operator of four 10,000-gallon underground storage tanks at its fuel service station located at 3203 Monsarrat Avenue in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Aloha Petroleum has been cited for failing to notify the department of a suspected fuel release within 24 hours of discovery, failing to conduct a timely investigation of the release, and deficiencies related to its release detection monitoring and record keeping system.

Aloha Petroleum has been assessed a $200,000 penalty and may request a hearing to contest the allegations and order.

DOH regulates USTs that hold petroleum or hazardous substances. Failure on the part of UST owners and operators to timely report suspected releases, unusual operating conditions and the loss of product may result in increased clean-up costs for petroleum contamination to the environment.

Heroes of Hope Save Native Plant Species From Brink of Extinction

A team of biologists has accomplished two herculean feats in Hawaiian plant conservation: the successful reintroduction of the endangered Ka‘ū silversword (Argyroxiphium kauense) and Pele lobeliad (Clermontia peleana) on Mauna Loa and Kīlauea volcanoes in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

Park ecologist David Benitez and Rob Robichaux collecting pollen from a Ka‘ū silversword. NPS Photo/Janice Wei

In an article recently published in the leading science journal, Biological Conservation, the biologists describe their 20-year efforts on Hawai‘i Island to rescue the plants from the edge of extinction.

“It’s been two decades of painstaking efforts by devoted individuals from federal, state and private agencies and institutions to save these plants,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park botanist Sierra McDaniel. “The team used technical rope systems to produce cuttings from Pele lobeliads in the rainforest canopy, flew by helicopter to remote volcanic slopes to rescue Ka‘ū silverswords, and worked long hours in the field and greenhouses to save them. It’s impossible to describe the joy we feel to see these plants thrive in the wild again,” she said.

The 11-page article describes the efforts and plants in detail, with color photographs that illustrate the nature of the efforts and convey the exceptional beauty of the plants. The article celebrates the centennial anniversary of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, which was established Aug. 1, 1916 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pele lobeliad flowers with nectar droplet. The abundant nectar serves as a food reward for native honeycreepers. Photo courtesy of Rob Robichaux, taken in the Volcano Rare Planet Facility greenhouse.

The Pele lobeliad nearly went extinct. Only five remnant plants are known in the wild, but now, more than 1,000 Pele lobeliads have been reintroduced in protected areas in the national park. The effort with the Ka‘ū silversword has been similarly successful, with more than 21,000 plants having been reintroduced in the park. Furthermore, the Ka‘ū silversword has now produced offspring of its own  – a key factor for long-term recovery.

An important aspect of the work has been linking the reintroduction efforts to landscape restoration at large scales in the park and in adjacent state and private lands, thereby providing opportunities for future growth and expansion of the silversword and lobeliad populations.

“The highly collaborative nature of the work has been the key to its success,” said Rob Robichaux, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, and coordinator of the silversword and lobeliad recovery efforts. “Daunting challenges remain. Yet the story of the Ka‘ū silversword and Pele lobeliad offers hope for a brighter future in which the landscapes of Hawai‘i are once again replenished with its many native plant species, which are true marvels of evolution,” he said.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the Space Station Tonight

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

It will be visible beginning tonight, Saturday, July 22 at 7:45 PM. It will be visible for approximately 6 minutes at a maximum height of 70 degrees. It will appear 11 degrees above the South Southwest part of the sky and disappear 11 degrees above the South Northeast part of the sky.

You can view a livestream from the space station here: https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

Statewide Public Hearings On Proposed Amendments to State Boating Rules

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) will hold public hearings statewide starting next week on proposed amendments to state boating rules.

Click to view proposed changes

These amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR) are being proposed to allow DLNR to better manage and facilitate boating and ocean recreation-related activities within State small

Boat harbors and nearshore waters, and to reorganize the HAR provisions relating to DOBOR for clarity and general efficacy.

“This extensive rule package contains modifications we have wanted to make for many years,” says Ed Underwood, DOBOR administrator.  “Some amendments are being proposed because facility management and the ocean recreation industry are changing rapidly and our existing rules cannot address the way people are using our harbors and the ocean today.  Some rules are being repealed because they are obsolete.  In all cases, the rules being proposed will allow DOBOR to do its job of managing its facilities and responsibilities more effectively.”

Proposed amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules,Title 13, Subtitle 11, Ocean Recreation and Coastal Areas, parts I, II and III, are posted on the DOBOR website at: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules/

Hearings to present the rules and accept public testimony will be held as follows:

On Kauai – July 24, 2017, 6 to 8 p.m. at Wilcox Elementary School Cafeteria. 4319 Hardy Street in Lihue.

On Maui – July 26, 2017, 5 to 7 p.m.at Velma McWayne Santos Community Center Wailuku Community Complex, 395 Waena Place in Wailuku.

On Hawaii Island (Hilo) — July 27, 2017, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Hilo State Building Conference Room 75 Aupuni Street.

On Hawaii Island (Kona) — July 28, 2017,  6 to 8 p.m. at Kealakehe High School Cafeteria 74-5000 Puohulihuli Street, Kailua-Kona.

On Oahu —  July 29, 2017,  8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Aiea Elementary School Cafeteria 99-370 Moanalua Road.

Notice was published in The Garden Island, Hawaii Tribune Herald, Honolulu Star Advertiser, Maui News, and West Hawaii Today. During the comment period DOBOR will only accept testimony on the rules proposed for amendment.

All interested parties are invited to attend the meetings and to present their views on the proposed amendments, either orally or in writing.

All forms of written comments will be accepted up to one week following the last public hearing date, by midnight, Saturday August 5, 2017.

If you are unable to attend the public hearing to submit your testimony, written testimony may be submitted:

  1. By e-mail to dlnr.harreview@hawaii.gov, Subject: Rule Amendment Package 2017;
  2. By fax to (808) 587-1977, Attn: Rule Amendment Package 2017.
  3. By mail to the Dept. of Land & Natural Resources, 1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 130, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, Attn: Chairperson, Re: Rule Amendment Package 2017

The proposed rule amendments can be reviewed online on the Division of Boating and Ocean

Recreation (DOBOR) website located at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/draft-rules or can be

Reviewed in person at the following DOBOR district offices:

  • Hawaii District Office – 74-380 Kealakehe Parkway, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740, Telephone: (808) 327-3690
  • Kauai District Office – 2494 Niumalu Road, Lihue, Hawaii 96766, Telephone: (808) 241-3111
  • Maui District Office – 101 Maalaea Boat Harbor Road, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793, Telephone: (808) 243-5824
  • Oahu District Office – 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96819, Phone: (808) 832-3520

Persons unable to review the proposed rule changes online or in person may request, verbally or in writing, a copy of the proposed rules. A charge of $0.50 per page will be assessed for hard copies. Hard copies will be mailed at no charge upon receipt of a valid request and applicable payment. Please make requests to:

Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation – 4 Sand Island Access Road, Honolulu, HI 96819, (808) 832-3520

Meeting locations are disability accessible. For persons requiring special needs accommodations (e.g., large print, taped materials, sign language interpreter, etc.), please call (808) 832-3520 at least one week in advance of the designated date and time of the applicable public hearing to make special needs requests.

Fernanda Expected to Weaken to a Tropical Storm Tonight

At 1100 AM HST (2100 UTC), the center of Hurricane Fernanda was located near latitude 17.7 North, longitude 136.3 West. Fernanda is moving toward the west-northwest near 8 mph (13 km/h), and this motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.

Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 80 mph (130 km/h) with higher gusts.  Additional weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, and Fernanda is expected to weaken to a tropical storm tonight.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles (165 km).

The estimated minimum central pressure is 985 mb (29.09 inches).

PISCES and Honeybee Robotics Receive $119K Grant From NASA

The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) and Honeybee Robotics, Ltd. have received a $118,690 NASA Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to jointly develop an In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technology that could launch the future of space settlement.

ISRU takes raw, natively sourced materials and converts them into usable resources. On places like the Moon and Mars, ISRU can transform regolith (or surface soil) into critical necessities like oxygen, water, rocket fuel and construction materials.PISCES and Honeybee Robotics have partnered on the 12-month ISRU project to design and develop an automated construction process that creates building blocks made entirely of sintered Hawaiian basalt. Since Hawaii’s basalt closely resembles Martian and lunar regolith in chemical composition and appearance, the blocks will have applications both on Earth and in space. ISRU basalt materials could enable the construction of habitats, tools, shelters, roads, landing pads and other critical infrastructure required for space settlement. Basalt building blocks could also provide a sustainable new construction material for the State of Hawaii in place of imported cement.

Through the STTR grant, PISCES is currently investigating the ideal sintering temperature to create these building blocks with an optimal balance of strength and volume. Honeybee Robotics is designing a robotic process for creating and/or deploying the blocks to automate the ISRU construction process. The Brooklyn-based company designs, builds and integrates technologies for a range of challenging environments including space exploration. It has contributed sample acquisition and processing tools for NASA rovers currently exploring Mars.

“We are excited to be working with Honeybee Robotics again on this NASA STTR project,” said PISCES Program Manager, Rodrigo Romo. “Honeybee was a key partner in our robotically built launch and landing pad that we constructed using only local basalt materials. This grant award will take the process a step further, allowing us to optimize the building block design and construction materials to allow for both vertical and horizontal construction applications that can be used both on Earth and on other celestial bodies for space settlement.”

A Honeybee Rover

“Hawaiian basalt is a great analog to the challenging environments we are likely to find on Mars or the Moon, where autonomous ISRU systems will need to work reliably and autonomously in tough conditions,” said Kris Zacny, vice president of the Exploration Technology Group at Honeybee Robotics. “Using local resources will be critical to enable new mission architectures by harvesting materials from the planet as needed. Also, approaches we develop for ISRU can also have applications in space mining, opening doors for both exploration and commercial missions. That’s why we’re so excited to be working with PISCES to advance our experience and robotic technologies.”

The STTR-funded project is Phase I in the development for planetary building blocks. If successful, PISCES and Honeybee Robotics will solicit a proposal for a Phase II STTR award which provides funding awards up to $1 million over two years.

The joint PISCES-Honeybee Robotics project was selected among 1,621 proposals submitted to NASA’s 2017 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and STTR programs. Of those, NASA selected 61 STTR Phase I proposals to negotiate contracts for funding. NASA’s STTR Program funds businesses and research institutions developing technologies that can support the space agency’s missions into deep space.

Regulators Accept Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Plan to Reach 100% Renewable Energy

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has accepted the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ plan charting the near-term actions that will lead to 100 percent of Hawaii’s power generation needs coming from renewable resources to meet 100 percent of Hawaii’s power generation needs by 2045.

The Power Supply Improvement Plan Update accepted by the PUC on July 14 describes the work by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light that will form the foundation to meet or exceed the state’s renewable energy milestones, the most ambitious in the country.

In its decision, the commission commended the companies’ analysis of options to meet Hawaii’s future needs for electricity, the openness of the planning process and the “high-quality stakeholder input” that together resulted in “a set of plans that provides useful context for making informed decisions regarding the near-term path forward.”

“After review, commission has reasonable assurance that many of the actions identified … are credible, supported by sound judgment and analysis, informed by stakeholder input and consistent with state energy policy and prior commission orders,” the commission stated.

The plan describes several key goals, including acquisition of nearly 400 megawatts of new renewable energy resources by 2021. The commission urged the companies to move quickly on a “transparent, timely and successful procurement process” to work with project developers and capture federal investment tax credits before they expire.

“We appreciate the commission’s acceptance of our plan and its guidance for moving forward,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. “As the commission noted, thoughtful input from the participants was a key to developing a successful plan and we will continue to work with everyone in our community as we implement it.”

The companies followed an open, collaborative process to develop the plan, participating in multiple stakeholder workshops and technical conferences to share information and ideas. Planners used industry-leading tools and techniques to analyze multiple scenarios to balance the desires for reliability, affordability and sustainability.

Among the participants in planning were the state Consumer Advocate; County of Hawaii; County of Maui; Ulupono Initiative; Blue Planet Foundation; Hawaii Gas; Paniolo Power on Hawaii Island and the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Additional independent technical analysis was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and Electric Power Research Institute.

The plan emphasizes work that is in progress or planned over the next five years on each of the five islands served by Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light.

The companies exceeded the state’s 2015 renewable energy target and forecast they will exceed the state’s renewable energy milestones in 2020, 2030 and 2040 by attaining a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of:

  • 48 percent by the end of 2020; the mandated goal is 30 percent
  • At least 72 percent by the end of 2030; the mandated goal is 40 percent
  • At least 100 percent by the end of 2040; the mandated goal is 70 percent. This would be five years ahead of the 2045 deadline to reach the goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

By 2020, Hawaii Island is forecast to reach an RPS of 80 percent; Maui 63 percent; Lanai 59 percent and Oahu, 40 percent. On Molokai, Maui Electric is working with the community on options for reaching 100 percent RPS by 2020.

To maintain reliability of electric service, the plan calls for adding energy storage and other grid technologies to accompany new renewable resources.

The plan includes continued growth of private rooftop solar and describes the work to expand and upgrade grid infrastructure and to use the newest generations of inverters, control systems and energy storage to help reliably integrate an estimated total of 165,000 private systems by 2030, more than twice today’s total of 79,000.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies already have the highest percentage of customers using rooftop solar of any utility in the U.S. The national average is one percent while the percentage in the Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories is 17 percent.

Feral Goat, Sheep, and Pig Hunt and Ungulate Control Program Announced for the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Forest Reserve

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) announces the opening of the hunting season in the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Forest Reserve (PWW) Youth and Disabled Hunt and Makai Sections pursuant to Title 13, Chapter 123, “Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting.”

DLNR-DOFAW also announces a special Ungulate Control Program for the PWW Mauka section pursuant to Title 13, Chapter 123, “Rules Regulating Game Mammal Hunting,” §13-123-9.

The SPECIAL YOUTH AND DISABLED HUNT will be open in the Safety Zone above the Pu’u Lani subdivision on weekends and State Holidays for the month of August 2017. Only youth (children who are 15 years of age or younger) and disabled hunters may hunt in this area.

Only one adult licensed hunter may accompany each youth hunter and one licensed, non-hunting assistant may accompany each disabled hunter. The bag limit for this hunt is three (3) nontypical rams and one (1) typical ram per hunter per day. This is also the season limit (See Table 1). Deboning and skinning is allowed. Skull with attached horns must remain intact and genitals must remain attached to the carcass.

The MAKAI ARCHERY (below Mamalahoa Highway) season will take place during the first four consecutive weekends in August, and during any State holidays that occur during that time (i.e. August 18, 2017; Statehood Day). The bag limit for this hunt is one (1) pig, one (1) nontypical ram, and three (3) goats per hunter per day. This is also the season limit. Deboning and skinning is allowed. The tail and genitalia of harvested animals must remain attached for species and sex identification purposes.

The MAKAI MUZZLELOADER season will take place during the three weekends following the archery season, and during any State holidays that occur during that time (i.e. September 4, 2017; Labor Day). The bag limit for this hunt is one (1) pig, one (1) non-typical ram, and three (3) goats per hunter per day. This is also the season limit. Deboning and skinning is allowed. The tail and genitalia of harvested animals must remain attached for species and sex identification purposes.

The PWW MAUKA UNGULATE CONTROL PROGRAM (above Mamalahoa Highway), will be a non-typical ram and feral goat hunt, and will take place concurrently with the Makai Muzzleloader season (during the three consecutive weekends following the Makai Archery season, including State holidays). The bag limit will be one (1) non-typical ram and two (2) goats (either sex) per hunter per day. During this program, the whole carcasses (entrails can be cleaned, but with attached genitalia on carcass) need to be inspected at checkout. For safety purposes, a maximum of 30 permittees will be allowed per day. Hunters interested in participating on the PWW MAUKA UNGULATE CONTROL PROGRAM will be issued permits at the hunter check station on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunters will need to purchase 2018 goat and ram tags to legally hunt these species in these areas. Tags may be purchased from any Hawaii Island Division of Forestry and Wildlife office and at the PWW Hunter Check Station during the hunt. Exact change of $10/tag (resident hunters) and $25/tag (non-resident hunters) is required when purchasing tags at the hunter check station.

The harvest tags will be non-transferable and non-refundable and must be placed through the hind leg of the animal immediately after each kill, and remain tagged until the hunter checks out of the hunting area and arrives home or to their final destination.

Hunters are to check in at the Pu’u Wa’awa’a check station beginning at 5 a.m. the day of the hunt and must be checked-out 7:45p.m. There is NO CAMPING allowed in the hunting area on any night before or during the hunt.

Further information may be obtained by contacting the DOFAW Office in Kamuela at (808) 887- 6063.

Free Orchid Show This Sunday

The 35th annual Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club (KDOC) show and sale is 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday, July 23 at the Daifukuji Soto Mission Hall. The free event offers attendees a complimentary orchid boutonniere corsage—while they last.  This year’s theme, “Orchids in Your Hawaiian Garden,” offers educational displays on how to add beauty and fragrance to your outdoor space, plus a guided tour through the on-site Orchid Grotto. The grotto demonstrates how to beautify a problematic space that can be enjoyed from both inside and out. The anniversary show also offers a historical-themed exhibit, “Orchid Reflections, Past and Present.”

Enjoy an elaborate and colorful display of live blooming cattleya, cymbidium, dendrobium, phalaenopsis, miltonia, vanda and more. Cameras are welcome.

Got growing questions? Veteran members staff a Question and Answer Booth where attendees can get expert advice on caring for orchids. The club boasts long-time members who have been growing orchids at different Kona elevations and in Ocean View.

The event offers an outdoor sale of high-quality orchid species and hybrids grown by club members and select Big Isle commercial growers. Club members will sell home-baked goods and drinks and membership info will be available.

The Kona Daifukuji Orchid Club is West Hawai‘i’s oldest orchidaceae organization with a mission to learn and foster orchid culture and promote fellowship among orchid collectors. The club meets the second Wednesday of every month at the Daifukuji Soto Mission Hall on Hwy. 11 at mile marker 114, just north of Kainaliu. Get club updates at www.facebook.com/orchidsinparadise.

Costco Violates Hawaii HI-5 Rule – Ordered to Pay Fine

Costco Wholesale Corporation has paid a fine of $4,799.40 for violating State deposit beverage container (DBC) requirements.On April 24, 2017, the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) sent a Request for Information letter to Costco requesting that the company submit sales information for auditing purposes. Despite more than 15 emails and telephone calls, Costco remained non-cooperative in providing the requested information in violation of the DBC Program audit authority specified in Hawaii Revised Statutes §342G-121.

DOH issued a Notice of Violation and Order (NOVO) against the company on June 13, 2017. Costco paid an administrative fine of $4,799.40 on July 12, 2017. Costco also provided the requested sales information and submitted a letter summarizing its procedure for generating sales data, satisfying the compliance requirements set forth in the NOVO.

Darren Park, manager of the department’s Deposit Beverage Container Program, said it is important for wholesalers and distributors to comply with requests from the DOH which administers the “HI-5” recycling program.

“The program relies on self-reported data, so the department conducts audits and inspection activities to ensure accuracy and completeness of information submitted, which helps to prevent fraud and financial harm to the State,” Park said. “Overall, the recycling program reduces litter at our parks and beaches and has kept billions of bottles and cans out of our garbage.”

More than 600 million deposit beverage containers are recycled annually at certified redemption centers that otherwise would be landfilled or end up littering Hawaii’s environment. Since 2005, Hawaii’s residents have recycled nearly 8 billion deposit beverage containers through the DBC Program.

University of Hawaii Research Uses Satellites to Predict End of Volcanic Eruptions

Researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) recently discovered that infrared satellite data could be used to predict when lava flow-forming eruptions will end.

Map of 34 volcanoes used to test hypothesis. Modified from Google Maps.

Using NASA satellite data, Estelle Bonny, a graduate student in the SOEST Department of Geology and Geophysics, and her mentor, Hawai‘i Institute for Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) researcher Robert Wright, tested a hypothesis first published in 1981 that detailed how lava flow rate changes during a typical effusive volcanic eruption. The model predicted that once a lava flow-forming eruption begins, the rate at which lava exits the vent quickly rises to a peak and then reduces to zero over a much longer period of time—when the rate reaches zero, the eruption has ended.

HIGP faculty developed a system that uses infrared measurements made by NASA’s MODIS sensors to detect and measure the heat emissions from erupting volcanoes—heat is used to retrieve the rate of lava flow.

Mt. Etna from space. Credit: NASA & US/Japan ASTER Science Team.

“The system has been monitoring every square kilometer of Earth’s surface up to four times per day, every day, since 2000,” said Bonny. “During that time, we have detected eruptions at more than 100 different volcanoes around the globe. The database for this project contains 104 lava flow-forming eruptions from 34 volcanoes with which we could test this hypothesis.”

Once peak flow was reached, the researchers determined where the volcano was along the predicted curve of decreasing flow and therefore predict when the eruption will end. While the model has been around for decades, this is the first time satellite data was used with it to test how useful this approach is for predicting the end of an effusive eruption. The test was successful.

Erupting Piton de la Fournaise volcano. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey.

“Being able to predict the end of a lava flow-forming eruption is really important, because it will greatly reduce the disturbance caused to those affected by the eruption, for example, those who live close to the volcano and have been evacuated,” said Bonny.

“This study is potentially relevant for the Hawai’i island and its active volcanoes,” said Wright. “A future eruption of Mauna Loa may be expected to display the kind of pattern of lava discharge rate that would allow us to use this method to try to predict the end of eruption from space.”

In the future, the researchers plan to use this approach during an ongoing eruption as a near-real time predictive tool.

Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program Accepting Applications for Conservation Acquisition Assistance

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is seeking new projects for its Hawaiʻi Forest Legacy Program that will protect important working forest lands from the threat of conversion to non-forest uses. The Forest Legacy Program, administrated through DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, is accepting applications for conservation acquisition assistance through the program.

The Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program works with private landowners, state and county agencies, and conservation non-profit groups to promote sustainable, working forests. Roughly 66 percent of forest land in the State of Hawai‘i is privately owned, with the majority of private landowners wanting to preserve these forests and leave a lasting legacy. Unfortunately, nationwide millions of acres of privately-managed working forests have been lost or converted to other uses with millions more projected to be converted in the next decade. Hawai‘i is no exception to this trend.

“With the help of land trusts and conservation-minded landowners, we have been able to protect our important forest resources, preserve forest essential for water production, shelter endangered species, and safeguard our culturally important sites,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson.

More than 2.5 million acres of threatened private forests in the U.S. have been protected under the Forest Legacy Program, of which 47,000 acres have been protected in Hawai‘i. The Division of Forestry and Wildlife is currently working on projects that will protect an additional 3,700 acres of important forested watershed lands through the Forest Legacy Program.

The majority of Hawaii’s projects are conservation easements that allow landowners to retain ownership of the restricted title to their property while providing permanent protection from development or unsustainable uses. Oftentimes, this economic opportunity provides landowners with an alternative to selling their land to development companies. Conservation easements are strictly voluntary to enter into and the restrictions are binding to all future owners in perpetuity.

“The national Forest Legacy Program is very competitive with only a few dozen projects funded by the U.S. Forest Service each year,” Case said. “Hawai‘i always puts in strong projects that compete well in this national program,” she noted.

The Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program has identified forest lands throughout the state as important and in need of permanent protection. More information about this status can be found in the State’s Assessment of Needs on the Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program website (http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/).

The Hawai‘i program accepts both fee title and conservation easement acquisitions. Fee title acquisitions are voluntary and can provide landowners with the knowledge that their property will be managed and owned in perpetuity by the State of Hawai‘i.

The deadline for the next round of applications to the Hawai‘i Forest Legacy Program is August 21, 2017. Applications can be found at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/ and should be submitted to Malia Nanbara by email.

Landowners and non-profits entities who are interested in participating in the Forest Legacy Program are encouraged to contact Malia Nanbara at the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife at (808) 587-4176 or by email at Malia.Y.Nanbara@Hawaii.gov to discuss their property and interest in the program.

EPA Requires Matheson Tri-Gas Kapolei to Close Illegal Cesspools

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with Matheson Tri-Gas to close three cesspools at its Kapolei facility on Oahu.

Click to read the consent agreement and final order

In May 2016, EPA inspected the Matheson Tri-Gas facility, a commercial gas supply company in the Campbell Industrial Park, and found two large-capacity cesspools (LCCs) in use. EPA regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act required closure of all existing LCCs by April 5, 2005.

Matheson, which acquired the facility in 2015, will close the two LCCs and convert to a septic system. The company will pay a civil penalty of $88,374 for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act and spend $50,000 on a supplemental environmental project to close an on-site small-capacity cesspool. Matheson expects to complete the closure of all three cesspools and convert to a septic system by the end of 2017.

“Matheson has agreed to not only close and replace its LCCs with approved systems, but will also close an additional small-capacity cesspool at its facility,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA will continue to focus on closing illegal cesspools to protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”

Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. Groundwater provides 99 percent of all domestic water in Hawaii, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state. Since EPA banned LCCs in 2005, over 3,000 large-capacity cesspools have been closed state-wide, many through voluntary compliance. The ban does not apply to individual cesspools connected to single-family homes.

For more information and to submit comments on this specific agreement visit:

https://www.epa.gov/uic/hawaii-cesspools-administrative-orders#oahu

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Seeks Witnesses to Tuesday Campground Fire

Fire officials at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park are seeking witnesses to a fire Tuesday afternoon that burned about ¼ acre of native koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest  behind a cabin at Nāmakanipaio Campground.

Smoke obscures the koa and ‘ōhi‘a forest at Nāmakanipaio Campground on Tuesday afternoon. NPS Photo/Luke Kittle

The fire started behind Cabin 3 shortly before 3 p.m., and was human-caused. A female and several children told firefighters they saw how it started, but left the scene before anyone could get her name and contact information.

The fire was quickly doused with water by County of Hawai‘i Engine 19, Volcano volunteer company 19, and National Park Service resources. No structures were burned, although flames came close to Cabin 3. No closures or evacuations were required.

The fire, which started behind Cabin 3 at Nāmakanipaio Campground, nearly reached the A-frame cabin. The campground and cabins are located within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and are managed by Hawai‘i Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC. NPS Photo.

An investigation is underway. Witnesses and anyone with information about the fire are encouraged to call Park Dispatch at 808-985-6170. Callers may remain anonymous.

“With a hot and dry summer upon us, we’re definitely at an increased risk for fire in the park, and across the island,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Fire Management Officer Greg Funderburk. “It’s important to remember that while parts of the island might be getting rainfall, other areas are very dry and quite susceptible to fire,” he said.

UH Study: Underwater Plate Size Spiders Breathes Through Its Legs

Sea spiders, a bizarre and ancient group of marine arthropods in the class Pycnogonida, breathe in a way not previously known to science, according to a study involving University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researcher Amy Moran and Zoology PhD student Caitlin Shishido.

A dinner-plate-sized Antarctic sea spider. Photo by C. Shishido

The study, published in the July 10 issue of Current Biology, was performed at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, while Moran and her team were there in the fall of 2016. Sea spiders in Antarctica can reach the size of dinner plates, part of a phenomenon known as “polar gigantism.” Most animals extract oxygen from the environment using specialized structures like gills and lungs, and distribute oxygen through their bodies using hearts and blood vessels. Sea spiders, distant marine relatives of land spiders, have no specialized structures to take up oxygen and their hearts are weak. Moran and her colleagues showed that sea spiders get oxygen through the surface of their legs and move it around their bodies while digesting their food with peristaltic contractions of the gut, which extends out to the end of all of the animal’s 8 to 12 legs.

UH Mānoa researcher Amy Moran dives with sea spiders in Antarctica. Photo by R. Robbins

“We are really excited about these results because they show that sea spiders solve one of life’s biggest challenges—getting oxygen into the body and taking it where it needs to go—in a way that is new to science,” said Moran. “The next thing we would love to know is if this is unique to sea spiders, or if other animals also move oxygen with their guts and we just never knew about it.”

Jon Harrison, a professor of biology at Arizona State University not involved in the project, says “This study beautifully demonstrates that sea spiders use their legs like gills and their guts like hearts, illustrating the important role of basic research in revealing very fundamental attributes of animal function.”

This work was funded by grants from the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation.

Hundreds of Species of Fungi in Deep Coral Ecosystems Discovered by UH Manoa Botanists

Researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Botany have discovered hundreds of potentially new species of fungi in the deep coral ecosystem in the ‘Au‘au channel off Maui. Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCE) are generally found at depths between 130 to 500 feet and possess abundant plant (algal) life as well as new fish species. The mysteries of these reefs are only recently being revealed through technological advances in closed circuit rebreather diving. Previously overlooked—being too precarious for conventional SCUBA and too shallow to justify the cost of frequent submersible dives—mesophotic reefs continuously disclose breathtaking levels of biodiversity with each dive, yielding species and behavioral interactions new to science.

Manipulator arm of the Pisces V sub collecting algae in ‘Au‘au channel. Credit: HURL.               

The UH Hawai‘i Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) used the Pisces V submersible to collect native algae from the mesophotic reefs in the ‘Au‘au channel. Using the DNA sequencing facility at the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, Benjamin Wainwright, lead author of the study and a botany postdoctoral researcher, and colleagues determined which species of fungus were associated with the native algae.

Fungi have been documented in almost all habitats on Earth, although marine fungi are less studied in comparison to their terrestrial counterparts. Scientists have found fungi in deep and shallow water corals, marine sponges and other invertebrates. The recently discovered fungi, however, were found living in association with algae.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first documented evidence confirming fungi in MCEs,” said Wainwright.

Additionally, the research team discovered that 27% of the species detected in these deep dark environments are also found on terrestrial rainforest plants in Hawai‘i.

Rebreather diver and Pisces V sub collecting coral and macroalgae. Credit: Robert K. Whitton.

“Finding such high overlap of fungal diversity on terrestrial plants was surprising. Mesophotic reefs are as dark as it gets where photosynthesis is still possible, so to find the same species of fungi on forest plants illustrates the remarkable ability of some fungi to tolerate, and thrive, in extremely different habitats,” said Anthony Amend, senior author of the study and UH Mānoa associate professor of botany. “This ecological breadth is something that seemingly sets fungi apart from other organisms.”

Plant-associated fungi provide many benefits to society. For example, Taxol, a chemotherapy medication used to treat cancers, is produced by a fungus found inside tree bark and leaves. Additionally, research has shown that fungi are useful in bioremediation efforts (for example, oil spill and industrial waste treatment) and capable of breaking down plastic waste.

It is currently not known whether the newly discovered fungal species are pathogens, helpful symbionts or unimportant to their algae hosts.

“Further, we don’t currently know what metabolic capabilities they have that may prove to have medical or environmental applications,” said Wainwright. “We know other undiscovered species are present in these ecosystems. Unfortunately, if we do not look now we may miss our opportunity to benefit from them and conserve them.”

Deep reefs, like those in the ‘Au‘au channel, may act as a refuge as Earth’s climate changes, providing habitat for any marine creatures that can take advantage of this deeper habitat. If this is indeed the case, understanding how this habitat functions and how the corals, algae and fungi interact with one another will be vital to preserving the refuge in the deep.

$10K Rebate on 2017 Nissan LEAF Sedan Extended for Hawaiian Electric Companies’ Customers

Nissan North America’s $10,000 rebate offer on the all-electric 2017 LEAF® sedan has been extended through September 30, 2017 for Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company customers. This is expected to be the last extension of this offer.

Customers should take their electric utility bill and the promotional flyer available at hawaiianelectric.com/nissanleaf to any participating Nissan dealer on Oahu, Maui or Hawaii Island to receive $10,000 off the sticker price of a new 2017 LEAF S, SV, or SL, while supplies last. With potential federal tax incentives, savings could total $17,500.

So far this year, over 300 customers have driven off Nissan dealership lots across the state in their new electric LEAFs, never to stop at a gas station again.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are leaders in the effort to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in Hawaii to help customers save money, to put abundant and less-expensive solar resources to work and to move the state toward its clean energy goals.

The rebate is funded by Nissan. To find a participating Hawaii Nissan dealer, go to nissanusa.com/nissandealers/location/hawaii. The 107-mile range 2017 LEAF, which needs no gasoline, no oil changes and very little maintenance, has a starting price of $30,680.

Hawaiian Birds Rapidly Colonize Young Restoration Forest

Forest birds on the island of Hawaii are responding positively to being restored in one of the largest, ongoing reforestation projects at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, according to a new study released July 10 in the journal Restoration Ecology.

Hawai‘i ‘Elepaio. (Credit: Kelly Jaenecke, USGS. Public domain.)

Serving as pollinators and seed dispersers, birds have an important role in ecosystem function and their presence in restoration areas can be a measure of success for conservation efforts.

“The study results show the birds are responding positively to restoration efforts faster than anyone thought possible,” said U.S. Geological Survey researcher and the study’s lead author Eben Paxton. “Birds are now in parts of the refuge where they weren’t found 10 to 20 years ago.”

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Hawaii County Affordable Housing Projects to be Built on Former Unexploded Ordinance Sites

In a June 22, 2017 letter that Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim sent to J.C. King, Director of Munitions and Chemical Matters, ODASA(ESOH) he is asking the Army to “…change the direction of its Unexploded Ordinance Clearance Schedule and parcel out specific sites that are designated for affordable housing projects.”

Full Letter:

On behalf of the residents of Hawai’i Island, I would like to request the U.S. Army to change the direction of its Unexploded Ordinance Clearance Schedule and parcel out specific sites that are designated for affordable housing projects.

The State of Hawai’i is mandated to build 22,000 affordable housing units by the year 2025 and the County of Hawai’i has been actively seeking ways to meet its part of this mandate.  Approximately two (2) years ago, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was made aware of concerns of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the Former Waikoloa Maneuver Area.

Since this notification, HUD has placed restrictions on new funding into this area, effectively stopping the development of four (4) multi-family, affordable housing projects that would provide desperately, needed housing for 1,564 families.  In addition, there are two (2) existing affordable housing projects (consisting of 108 families), that need to have their properties surveyed and cleared to eliminate any danger from unexploded ordinances. These are:

Proposed:

  • Kamakoa Nui (County of Hawai’i) 1,200 units
  • Plumeria at Waikoloa (JSM Enterprises) 200 units
  • Waikoloa Family Affordable (Gary Furuta) 104 units
  • Kaialulu O Waikoloa (Urban Housing) 60 units

Existing:

  • Waikoloa Gardens (Jack Hall Waikoloa) 24 units
  • Ke Kumu Ekaki (State Hawai’i Housing) 94 units

Again, I strongly urge your agency to parcel out these projects and schedule them for Ordinance Clearance work at the earliest date possible.  I cannot emphasize the importance of clearing these subject parcels so as we can help our citizens make this island a better place to live.

Please contact Neil Gyotoku of my staff at (808) 961-8379 if we can be of any assistance in resolving this important issue.

Sincerely,

Harry Kim, Mayor