Hawaii State Judiciary Launches New Environmental Court

On July 1st, Hawaii will take the historic step of establishing the second statewide Environmental Court in the United States.  Hawaii’s new Environmental Court will have broad jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases affecting the environment.

JudiciaryAccording to Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, “The goal of the Environmental Court is to ensure the fair, consistent, and effective resolution of cases involving the environment.  We are excited to be part of this new initiative.”

In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the creation of environmental courts and tribunals around the world.  To date, 350 environmental courts of some kind are operating in 41 countries.  The Vermont State Legislature founded America’s first environmental court in 1990.  No other statewide environmental courts were formed in the United States until former Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law Act 218, Session Laws of Hawaii 2014.

Pursuant to Act 218, Chief Justice Recktenwald appointed Associate Justice Michael D. Wilson to serve as Chair of the Environmental Court Working Group, an assembly of court personnel from across the state, to manage the implementation of the new specialty court.  The Working Group has been preparing for the July 1, 2015 launch, starting with a report to the 2015 Legislature describing plans to implement the Hawaii Environmental Court.  Since then, environmental court judges for the district and circuit courts have been assigned, Circuit Court Rules were amended, case management systems were updated, and adjustments were made to some court schedules to accommodate environmental court calendars.

“With the Environmental Court, Hawaii will be better positioned to safeguard one of the most treasured environments in the world,” said Justice Wilson.  “By organizing the technical and legal environmental issues under the Environmental Court, the State Legislature’s intention of promoting and protecting Hawaii’s natural environment will be realized through informed, efficient and consistent application of Hawaii’s environmental laws.”

Big Island Earthquake Upgraded to 5.2 Magnitude

The earthquake that happened yesterday evening has been upgraded to a 5.2 magnitude earthquake.

This follows a previous update of 5.0 and 4.9 as previously reported.
52 big island

NO TSUNAMI EXPECTED FROM BIG ISLAND EARTHQUAKE

TO – EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN THE STATE OF HAWAII

SUBJECT – LOCAL TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT

THIS STATEMENT IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. NO ACTION REQUIRED.

AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS

50 Big Island

  •    ORIGIN TIME – 1010 PM HST 27 JUN 2015
  •    COORDINATES – 19.3 NORTH 155.2 WEST
  •    LOCATION   – IN THE HILINA REGION OF KILAUEA VOLCANO
  •    MAGNITUDE   – 4.8

EVALUATION

NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED. REPEAT. NO TSUNAMI IS EXPECTED.

HOWEVER…SOME AREAS MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED SHAKING.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT UNLESS

ADDITIONAL DATA ARE RECEIVED.

 

Two Miles of Fencing at Big Island Natural Area Reserve Vandalized – Repair to Cost Taxpayers $100,000+

Nearly two miles of ungulate proof fencing, surrounding the Pu’u Maka’ ala Natural Area Reserve (NAR), built in the early part of this decade, was recently cut and destroyed by vandals.

Fence Repair

Ungulate fencing is intended to keep feral goats, pigs and other invasive animals away from native plants. This is not the first time fencing in two units within this Hawaii Island Natural (NAR) was vandalized.  Aroutine inspection of the fencing by NAR staff from the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) revealed that vandals had cut through multiple sections of fence at intervals of 5-10 meters top to bottom.

DLNRChairperson Suzanne Case said, “Whatever point these vandals think they’re making, they need to realize that they and every other taxpayer in Hawaii, ultimately ends up paying for the replacement of this fencing.   Additionally, significant staff time will bespent to repair the damage which could take several months and takes staff away from other scheduled projects and regular duties.”

The damagehas been reported to the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE).     A first degree criminal property damage casehas been filed. Anyone caught and convicted of vandalizing or destroying state property faces a class B felony with fines in the thousands of dollars as well as 5-10 years in jail.

NickAgorastos, a NAR Specialist on the Big Island estimates it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair the damage.   He said, “This damage was done in one day and the cost estimate does not include the labor cost needed to remove ungulates that may have slipped through the damaged portions of fence.   It’sunfortunate that we all end up paying for someone else’s thoughtlessness and complete disregard for the purpose of ungulate fencing.”

Hundreds of milesof fencing around the state have been constructed for the express purpose of protecting watersheds and native plants; some of which are so rare there are only a few remaining. Pu’u Maka’ ala Natural Area Reserve is a high value, native forest, containing many sensitive natural resources.   It and many other state lands that are fencedcontinue to provide hunting and recreational access. Anyone with information on this crime is encouraged to call the DOCARE Hotline at 643-DLNR.

Watch “Protection of Hawaii’s Native Forests & Watersheds-A Discussion About Fencing & Invasive Species Control”

Big Island Police Searching for Shirtless Burglar

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a photographic image of a suspect involved in an attempted burglary at a business establishment on the 1100 block of Kīlauea Avenue in Hilo.
robbery suspectThe photo depicts the male suspect, who is described as being Caucasian, in his late teens or early 20s, approximately 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-9 with short hair. He was wearing a tank top or possibly no shirt, dark shorts, dark shoes, dark gloves and a light large-brim hat. He was carrying a dark backpack with reflective markings.
Robbery Suspect2
Police ask anyone with information about the person in this photograph to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Joel Field at 961-2381 or joel.field@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Commentary – Poor Job Handling TMT Protestors

Governor Ige’s administration, and to a lesser extent, the County of Hawaii, are doing a poor job handling the ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protests on Mauna Kea. The governor’s proposed changes to the stewardship of Mauna Kea offended both the protesters and the individuals who’ve helped preserve this sensitive area.

TMT laserThe protesters  were mainly unhappy the governor reaffirmed the TMT’s legal right to begin construction, but there were other aspects of the revised stewardship plan the protesters were not pleased about. They were also unhappy the removal of ¼ of all the existing telescopes and imposing access restrictions to the summit area, among other issues

The governor’s stewardship changes also offended the individuals who’ve helped preserve Mauna Kea. It was  like a slap to the face when the governor stated the University of Hawaii and Department of Land and Natural Resources have been poor stewards of  Mauna Kea. There were issues with the stewardship of Mauna Kea in the past. However, there has been immeasurable improvements over the past 15 years. The execution of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan in 2010 was one of the highlights of these recent improvements.

Governor Ige’s administration also dropped the ball as far as dealing with these ongoing Thirty Meter Telescope protests. His administration has allowed these protesters to illegally encamp at Hale Pohaku for the past three months and obstruct access to the summit area. Yes, these protesters have a constitutionally protected right to protest, but they shouldn’t break the law in the process.

The elephant the room is the ongoing Hawaii sovereignty debate. The latter has Trojan horsed itself into the current debate over the Thirty Meter Telescope. The State and County of Hawaii are playing softball with these groups as a result. For example, the Hawaii County prosecutor is considering dropping criminal trespass charges against the first wave of 21 protesters in lieu of initiating  ho’oponopono with these individuals. This will entail holding discussions with the governor, the University of Hawaii, Thirty Meter Telescope, DLNR, etc.

The Thirty Meter Telescope has undergone a seven year public vetting process. These individuals had  ample opportunity express their concerns about this project during this time. In short, this is simply another stalling tactic that is being employed by the opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

As it stands now, the Thirty Meter Telescope has the legal right to initiate construction until the appellate courts say otherwise. I hope Governor Ige gets a backbone and  stops pandering to the interests of these protesters.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Two Officers Recognized as “Officers of the Month”

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Detective Scott Amaral on Thursday (June 25) as one of two East Hawaiʻi “Officers of the Month” for June.

Aloha Exchange board member Joey Estrella presents an 'Officer of the Month' award to Detective Scott Amaral.

Aloha Exchange board member Joey Estrella presents an ‘Officer of the Month’ award to Detective Scott Amaral.

Detective Jesse Kerr, who shares the award, was unable to attend the ceremony and will be recognized officially at a later date.

The two Juvenile Aid Section detectives are being honored for helping the FBI locate a fugitive wanted in Colorado for kidnapping a 9-year-old family member.

When the FBI received information that the man and girl might be on Hawaiʻi Island, Detectives Amaral and Kerr were assigned to provide assistance. Using their investigative skills, they developed intelligence about the whereabouts of the fugitive and child. As a result, the man was arrested in a small town in Texas within 11 hours from the time the two detectives received the assignment. The girl was located and returned to her family.

“Both detectives deserve equal recognition for collaboratively getting the job done,” said Lieutenant Lucille Melemai, who nominated Amaral and Kerr for the honor. “They represented our department well.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Amaral and Kerr are eligible for “Officer of the Year.”

The East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.

New Satellite Image Captures Puna Lava Flow

This satellite image was captured on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 by the Landsat 8 satellite.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Although this is a false-color image, the color map has been chosen to mimic what the human eye would expect to see. Bright red pixels depict areas of very high temperatures and show active lava. White areas are clouds.

The lava flow field is partly obscured by clouds, but the image shows much of the activity on the June 27th flow. Active breakouts are scattered over a wide area northeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, with the farthest active lava about 7.8 km (4.8 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

TMT Cuts Short First Day of Construction Restart For Safety Reasons

Statement from Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board:

TMT laser

“This is a difficult day for Hawaii and TMT. As we attempted to begin our work today, we were met by protests that regrettably resulted in some arrests. Boulders blocked our access to the construction site and the Department of Land and Natural Resources deemed it unsafe for us to proceed. For the safety of our team, we made the decision to bring them off the mountain and we are planning to resume when the issue is resolved.

“We want to thank the state and county police officers for protecting the safety of our team and the protesters and extend our gratitude to them, as well as to all of our supporters in Hawaii.

“We want to acknowledge and reach out to those who disagree with our project. We respect their views and, looking toward the future, we hope we can work together to find common ground.”

Statement From Governor’s Office on Mauna Kea Arrests

Eleven adults were arrested by the Hawai‘i Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) Wednesday, during a protest to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.

Mauna Kea Via UH

The arrests are unfortunate, but the state’s number one priority is the safety of the people on Mauna Kea – from TMT workers to protestors who are exercising their first amendment rights to peaceably assemble and protest in a civil manner.

We are disappointed and concerned that large boulders were found in the roadway leading to the summit of Mauna Kea. This action is a serious and significant safety hazard and could put people at risk.

Because of this, we are making an assessment to determine how to proceed.

We will be working to clear the roadway tomorrow. Therefore, construction is on hold until further notice.

**Governor David Ige is in Washington, D.C. for an energy forum with the Washington Post and meetings with Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation and federal officials.

Two Million Provided for Hawaii Bikeshare Program Seed Funding

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Hawaii State Department of Health Director Virginia Pressler, M.D. today signed a contract providing matching funds for Bikeshare Hawai‘i.

Bike ShareUnder the agreement, the City and State will each provide $1 million in seed funding to assist the nonprofit Bikeshare Hawaii in building its large-scale bicycling infrastructure system, which is set to launch next year.

“We’re proud to support this important transportation public-private partnership between the City, State, and Bikeshare Hawaii,” said Mayor Caldwell. “This expansion of Honolulu’s bicycling infrastructure will be a game-changer in giving residents and visitors options to avoid traffic, help the environment, and have fun.”

bike share signing

“The Department of Health is thrilled to partner with the City and County on this important initiative that puts bikeshare within the reach of Hawaii’s residents and visitors,” said Director Pressler. “Having access to active transportation modes like bikeshare makes it easier for us to meet out daily physical activity needs, ultimately helping to reduce obesity and chronic disease to improve the health and well-being of our community.”

Bikeshare Hawaii will be a low-cost, flexible public transportation system that provides on-demand access to a network of publically-rentable bicycles at strategic locations. Approximately 1,700 bikes will be available at stations throughout urban Honolulu during the initial rollout. Upon completion of Honolulu’s rail project, bikeshare stations will provide first/last mile connectivity to rail and TheBus stations, facilitating the use of public transportation. Bikeshare will eventually expand the system statewide as demand increases.

Bikeshare systems have been proven to expand mobility options, create new bicyclists, and reduce automobile use. Bikeshare systems also promote healthier cities, active lifestyles, reduced vehicle emissions, and reliance on imported fossil fuel.

More information: http://www.bikesharehawaii.org/
https://www.facebook.com/bikesharehawaii

New Lava Flow Map Showing Flow Field Changes

This map shows recent changes to Kīlauea’s active East Rift Zone lava flow field.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The area of the flow on May 21 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as of June 4 is shown in red. Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows erupted prior to June 27, 2014, are shown in gray.

Pahoa Senior Center to Reopen

The Hawai‘i County Department of Parks and Recreation announces it will reopen the Pāhoa Senior Center on Monday, June 29. Pahoa Senior Center

Services returning to the Pāhoa Senior Center will include the Hawai‘i County Nutrition Program (HCNP), Elderly Recreation Services (ERS), Coordinated Services for the Elderly (CSE), and the Pāhoa Senior Club.

In September 2014 as an advancing lava flow threatened to inundate Pāhoa, the Department of Parks and Recreation temporarily relocated those operations so the Pāhoa Senior Center could be used as an emergency fire station servicing the lower Puna community.

The Department of Parks and Recreation thanks the public for its patience and understanding while the Pāhoa Senior Center was closed for emergency purposes.

For more details regarding the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Elderly Activities Division and the programs it offers, please call 961-8708.

State Commissioner of Securities Orders Concert Promoters to Cease and Desist

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ (DCCA) Commissioner of Securities, Ty Nohara, issued a preliminary order to cease and desist and notice of right to hearing against concert promoters Ferdinand C. Jacobe, Gina T. Carlos, and P.B.C. Productions, LLC for violating state securities laws.

Click to read suit

Click to read suit

The order asserts that, between January 2012 and June 2013, Jacobe and P.B.C. Productions solicited investors among the local Filipino community to fund three concerts in Hawaii, guaranteeing returns of 10 to 40 percent within days of each concert.  The order asserts that P.B.C. Productions enlisted the assistance of an agent, Carlos, to solicit investors for the first two concerts.  As a result, more than 30 Hawaii residents invested a combined total of $666,000 into the concerts. Nearly two years have passed since the last concert took place, and many investors remain unpaid.

Jacobe and P.B.C. Productions are accused of failing to disclose to investors that they were substantially in debt to numerous past investors, and the proceeds of a future concert, as well as a portion of new investors’ funds, were needed to repay past investors, and investors’ funds would not be returned by the guaranteed deadline.

Jacobe, Carlos, and P.B.C. Productions also failed to inform the investors who were solicited by Carlos that Carlos would be receiving a 5 to 15 percent commission on the funds she collected from them.

State securities laws include anti-fraud provisions, requiring both securities and persons soliciting or transacting securities to be registered with DCCA’s Securities Compliance Branch.  The order asserts that Jacobe and P.B.C. Productions violated these anti-fraud provisions by employing deceptive schemes and devices to perpetuate fraud.  It further alleges that neither Jacobe nor Carlos was registered to transact securities in Hawaii, and the securities they sold to investors were also unregistered.

The order seeks total penalties of $200,000 in addition to a permanent injunction against Jacobe and Carlos for transacting securities in the state, disgorgement of commissions received, and rescission of the sales of the securities.

Anyone who has been solicited by Jacobe, P.B.C. Productions, or Carlos to invest in a concert or who may otherwise have information regarding this matter is urged to contact the DCCA’s Securities Enforcement Branch (SEB) at 808-586-2740 or toll free 1-877- HI-SCAMS.

SEB receives and investigates complaints regarding potential violations of Hawaii securities laws and prosecutes securities fraud as well as other securities law violations.

Five Injured in Three-Vehicle Crash on Hawaii Belt Road

Five people were injured—one critically—in a three-vehicle crash Friday (June 19) on the Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Highway 19) at Maulua Gulch along the Hāmākua Coast.

Malua GulchResponding to a 9:14 a.m. call, police learned that a 2003 Toyota pickup truck traveling south near the 23-mile marker crossed the centerline and sideswiped a 2008 Peterbuilt tractor-trailer traveling north. The tractor-trailer lost control and crossed the centerline, colliding with a 2003 Chevrolet four-door sedan traveling south.

All occupants of the three vehicles were taken to Hilo Medical Center.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 40-year-old Hilo woman, was treated and released for minor injuries.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, a 49-year-old Hilo man, and his passenger, an 11-year-old Hilo boy, were treated for their injuries and released.

The passenger in the sedan, a 24-year-old Laupāhoehoe woman, was treated for her injuries and released. The sedan’s driver, a 23-year-old Laupāhoehoe man, was transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu in critical condition.

Traffic Enforcement Unit investigators have initiated a negligent injury case and are continuing the investigation. It is unknown at this time if speed, alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash.

Hawaiʻi Belt Highway was closed in both directions for more than two hours. Traffic was then allowed to take turns using one lane until the road was reopened to all traffic at approximately 3:40 p.m.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call Officer Clarence Acob at 961-2293.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Hawaii Bishop Does Funeral for Accused Predator in Hiding, Victims Respond

A Catholic bishop recently led a funeral for an accused predator priest who was hiding in another country.

We just learned that Fr. Anthony Bolger, a priest who is publicly accused of sexually abusing a child in Hawai’i, died months ago while in hiding in Tijuana, Mexico.

Fr. Anthony Bolger

Fr. Anthony Bolger

http://www.hawaiicatholicherald.com/2015/01/30/obituary-father-anthony-bolger-1943-2015/

Hawai’i Bishop Clarence Silva even presided over Bolger’s funeral.  http://www.hawaiicatholicherald.com/2015/02/10/memorial-mass-for-father-anthony-bolger/

We are upset by Silva’s recklessness, callousness, and secrecy.

Fr. Bolger joins a long list of credibly accused child-molesting clerics who have been allowed by their Catholic supervisors to live unsupervised in the Mexico border town among unsuspecting families and vulnerable children. As best we can tell, the local Tijuana community was not warned of the accusations against Bolger and that children were put in direct risk. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2013/05_06/2013_05_09_TheStarAdvertiser_CatholicChurch.htm

Bishop Silva has done little or nothing to reach out and comfort the brave men and women who have come forward to say that they were sexually abused by Hawaii’s clerics. Instead of doing even the smallest thing to comfort the wounded, he salutes and honors those who may have caused horrible damage. Not only does this defy the way of Aloha, but Silva’s irresponsible actions deter other victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from speaking up. He’s also essentially encouraging other Catholic officials to behave in similarly hurtful ways in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases.

Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, CA, SNAP Western Regional Director,

Man Goes Ballistic at WalMart and Smashes 12 TV’s

A 48-year-old man has been charged with a felony after a dozen televisions were smashed while customers shopped at a “big box” store in Kailua-Kona.

Alexander Springer

Alexander Springer

At 6:49 p.m. Monday (June 15), Kona Patrol officers responded to a report of a disturbance at a store on Henry Street. They arrived to find a suspect outside the store with another customer.

Witnesses reported that the suspect, Alexander Springer, had grabbed a bat from the store and used it to destroy 12 televisions. One of the store’s customers stopped him and took him outside while waiting for police to arrive. Damages were estimated at $4,081.

Police arrested Springer, who has no permanent address, and charged him with second-degree criminal property damage, a Class C felony. His bail was set at $2,000. He was held at the Kona police cellblock until his initial court appearance on Tuesday (June 16).

Decomposed Bodies Found on the Big Island

Big Island Police are investigating two bodies that were recently found on the Big Island in states of decomposition.HPDBadge

  1. At 8:37 a.m. Monday (June 15), South Hilo Patrol officers responded to a report of a body off the road leading to the Hilo airport.They found the body under a makeshift shelter in overgrowth about 80-100 feet south of Kekuanaoa Street and approximately a half-mile east of the intersection of Kekuanaoa Street and Kanoelehua Avenue. The body was in advanced stage of decomposition. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday to determine the sex and cause of death. Fingerprints, dental records or both will be used to establish identity. The case is classified as a coroner’s inquest. Police ask anyone who may have seen someone riding a white bicycle into the bush area in that vicinity during the latter part of May or early part of June to contact Detective Clarence Davies at 961-2384 or clarence.davies@hawaiicounty.gov
  2. At 11:10 a.m. Tuesday (June 16), officers responded to a report of an unattended truck off the 15-mile marker of Saddle Road. They found a body in an advanced stage of decomposition.  An autopsy is scheduled for Friday to determine the sex and cause of death. Dental records will be used to establish identity.  The case is classified as a coroner’s inquest.

Navy Teams with State of Hawaii to Combat Mosquitoes

The Navy in Hawaii is partnering with the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health (HDOH) in surveillance and prevention of mosquito-borne diseases.
Mosquito Bite
During an interview on local TV June 11, entomologists Lt. Ryan Larson, of Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit (NEPMU) 6, and Dr. Jeomhee Hasty, of HDOH, showed specimens of mosquitoes and explained the importance of working together to prevent the spread of diseases.

The partnership with HDOH was strengthened when the Navy began to recognize the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases throughout the Pacific last summer.

“Fences don’t stop mosquitos,” Larson told KHON2’s Wake Up 2day audience. “We realized we need to be prepared to respond in case this disease arrived in Hawaii.”

There have been cases of mosquito-borne diseases chikungunya and dengue fever in recent years, according to the HDOH.

“Travelers infected overseas can bring the disease back home where local mosquitos can ‘bite’…and start local transmission of the disease in Hawaii,” said Hasty.

Mosquito surveillance conducted by HDOH since 2010 at Honolulu International Airport supports Hasty’s concern. The mosquito species Aedes aegypti was detected near the airport several times since 2012. This group is more efficient at spreading dengue fever, said Hasty.

The HDOH Navy partnership allows combatting invasive species to move beyond the airport to cover more of the state.

Ryan demonstrated how two different traps are being used in the joint effort. A light trap sucks nocturnal mosquitos in after attracting them with visual cues and carbon dioxide, which mimics human respiration.

He also showed a sentinel trap, which is used for catching day-feeding mosquitos like the ones that carry dengue and chikungunya. Baited with a chemical lure that smells like “the worst pair of smelly socks you can imagine,” this device targets ankle-biting mosquitos, said Ryan.

As for residents of Hawaii, Hasty says using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants can help prevent exposure to harmful mosquito bites. She also recommends eliminating standing water on and around one’s property, which reduces mosquito reproduction.

EPA Honors Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as Federal Green Challenge Winner

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park with the EPA’s Federal Green Challenge Regional Overall Achievement award as part of its efforts to encourage federal departments to reduce their environmental footprints through sustainable practices.

A park ranger recycles cardboard

A park ranger recycles cardboard

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, located on Hawai‘i Island is one of the most biologically diverse landscapes in the world. Located nearly 2,500 miles from the nearest continental land mass, the park stretches from the summit of Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet down to sea level. It encompasses two of the world’s most active volcanoes, and attracts more than 1.6 million visitors a year.

“We applaud National Park Service staff for leading the way towards zero waste, and educating the millions of visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This unique landscape deserves protection, and that starts with the commitment by the federal employees who work there.”

“We are extremely honored to receive this level of recognition for our climate-friendly efforts,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “Our staff is dedicated to implementing environmentally responsible practices, and we encourage our visitors and park partners to do the same,” she said.

The park had top regional achievements in the Federal Green Challenge Waste and Purchasing target areas, increasing recycling by 167 percent to achieve an overall recycling rate of 76 percent, while decreasing copy paper purchases by 89 percent. In addition, 95 percent of its cleaning products met Environmental Preferable Purchasing criteria.

Not only does Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park walk their talk behind the scenes, but park employees reach out to the community and visitors throughout the year through programs, exhibits and presentations on the values and importance of being climate friendly and sustainable.

The park actively works to reduce their environmental footprint in all six Federal Green Challenge target areas: energy, water, waste, electronics, purchasing and transportation.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to Hawaii’s largest public rainwater catchment system that stores 5.3 million gallons of water. The water is treated, filtered with cartridge and sand filters, and disinfected to supply water to 56 areas throughout the park. Water bottle refilling stations, posters, and sale of refillable stainless steel water bottles educate the public to “Step Away from the Plastic.”

In addition, the park’s Visitor Emergency Operations Center, which opened in 2011, earned a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council – and is currently the only federal building in Hawai‘i to receive LEED Platinum certification. The 4,896-square-foot building is powered by photovoltaic panels and is constructed from mostly recycled or reused materials.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has made more great strides in conserving energy. Park rangers ride electrically powered “Eco Bikes” to their programs along the Kīlauea summit, saving fossil fuels and parking spaces. The Kīlauea Visitor Center features special yellow LED lighting to conserve energy and keep night skies dark. Solar panels generate renewable energy, and electric and alternative fuel vehicles further reduce energy and transportation-related emissions.

The Federal Green Challenge is a national effort challenging federal agencies to lead by example in reducing the Federal Government’s environmental impacts. In 2014, more than 400 participating facilities, representing nearly 1.3 million federal employees, “walked the talk” in various target areas and reduced their environmental footprint, which in many cases also resulted in significant cost savings. In EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, $3,486,990 was saved through reductions in energy, purchasing, transportation and waste.