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Man Arrested in Pahoa With *UPDATE* (Alleged) Dynamite

Yesterday evening around 5:45 in Pahoa, a man sitting on the wall near Paul’s Gas Station was arrested and among the items found in his possession was allegedly a stick of dynamite.

An officer at the top of the picture photographing the alleged explosive device.

I asked on the Recover Pahoa Facebook Page if anyone could confirm if it was dynamite and the following was reported:

Yes the police/bomb squad detonated it around 2 this morning According to the security in Luquin parking

Here is another picture of the incident:

It is unknown at this time what he was arrested for and the Hawaii Police Department has not released a media report on this incident as of this posting.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Promotes Diversified Agriculture on Valley Isle

On Maui today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) attended the kick-off and blessing for Pacific Biodiesel’s biofuel sunflower crop, where she delivered opening remarks about the importance of diversified agriculture, protecting our environment, and creating local jobs. She met with the project’s leaders and farmers, and planted seeds as part of the blessing ceremony.

Continuing this week’s focus on reforming the criminal justice system and visiting Hawaiʻi correctional facilities, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard toured the Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC) and met with Maui Economic Opportunity caseworkers who assist the inmates as they reintegrate into the community. The congresswoman heard about the programs being offered there and spent time with many of the incarcerated men and women. She saw firsthand the problems and challenges at MCCC, foremost of which is the dilapidated facilities and extreme overcrowding. She was especially moved by the positive stories shared by those participating in the Maui Drug Court Program.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard visited the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility and the Women’s Community Correctional Center on Oʻahu earlier this week, and will be at the Kauaʻi Community Correctional Facility tomorrow morning. She has long advocated for common sense criminal justice reform legislation and has been a vocal advocate supporting state programs like Drug Courts, Veteran Courts, Hawaiʻi Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), and the State Juvenile Justice Hoʻopono Mamo Civil Citation Initiative.

While on the Valley Isle today, the congresswoman also participated in an AARP roundtable discussion with Maui members, volunteers, and others from the community to discuss federal issues that impact seniors and how to better serve kūpuna on Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lanaʻi.

Tomorrow, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will be hosting a “Congress on Your Corner” in Waianae to talk story, hear from Oʻahu constituents about their ideas and concerns, and share how her office can assist families with federal issues like veteran services, immigration, social security, Medicare, and more. She will have her usual pop-up tent in the parking lot of “Da Crawfish and Crab Shack” at 87-64 Farrington Highway in Waianae on Saturday, February 25th from 3:00-4:00pm.

Hawaii Police Department Captain Promotions Announced

Police Chief Paul Ferreira has announced three promotions to the rank of captain.

Gilbert Gaspar will be the captain in charge of Kona patrol.

Gilbert Gaspar

He joined the Police Department in July 1982 and has spent the bulk of his police career working in West Hawaiʻi. Since July 2008, he has been the lieutenant in charge of the Area II Juvenile Aid Section.

Gregory Esteban is promoted to captain in charge of South Hilo Patrol.

Gregory Esteban

Esteban joined the Police Department in June 1985 and was promoted to detective in 1999. In 2007, he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned first to South Hilo Patrol and then to the Area I Criminal Investigations section.

Kenneth Quiocho, who joined the Police Department in August 1992, will be captain of the Kaʻū District.

Kenneth Quiocho

His assignments have taken him to Hāmākua, South Kohala and Hilo, where he was most recently the lieutenant in charge of the department’s Accreditation Section.

New Works of Art By Distinguished Local Artist Displayed at Honolulu International Airport

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) Airport Division, in coordination with DFS and HMSHost, on behalf of the Airport Concessionaires Committee were presented with a piece of fine art by local artist Satoru Abe.

From left; Kahu Kordell Kekoa; Tobi Solidum; Mel and Pally Chiogioji; Satoru Abe; Gail Goto, Mr. Abe’s daughter; State Senator Ronald Kouchi, Senate President; Ross Higashi, HDOT Airports Division Deputy Director

The art piece is displayed at the Honolulu International Airport (HNL) main lobby terminal near the newly renovated cultural gardens.

Artist and sculptor Satoru Abe, 90, stands beside his work “Sunburst” located at the Honolulu International Airport.

Hawaii’s renowned sculptor and artist Satoru Abe will grace one of the walls at HNL with his work. Abe’s vision was to create a visceral sensory dynamic sharing 40 laser engraved wood etched paintings to tell his story in collaboration with his grandson Donovan Goto. This combination of grandfather and grandson brings the best of traditional artwork blended with high technology to depict themes from nature such as the sun and trees.

The Satoru Abe gallery is located on the second level of the Central Concourse overlooking the newly renovated cultural gardens.

As a capstone to this commission Abe is including a special metal sculpture named “Sunburst” presented to DFS and the residents and visitors of Hawaii. A ceremony at HNL this morning marked the occasion with a memorandum of understanding and a proclamation announcing Feb. 24, 2017 as Satoru Abe Day.

“Sunburst” by Satoru Abe is proudly displayed at Honolulu International Airport. Photos courtesy, Hawaii Department of Transportation or HDOT.

In all Abe, 90, has created more than 8,000 art pieces, many of which have found their way to locations of distinction such as the Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii State Art Museum, Aloha Stadium, Hawaii Convention Center, and his alma mater William McKinley High School.

West Hawaii Community Health Center Expanding – Informational Meeting Planned

West Hawaii Community Health Center (WHCHC) will soon open the doors to its newly expanded Waikoloa location, offering a wide variety of medical and dental services to area residents.

West Hawaii Community Health Center

An informational community meeting will be held Tuesday, March 7 at Waikoloa Elementary School cafeteria starting at 6:30 pm. Interested community members are invited to attend to learn more about the new services being offered.

The Waikoloa Elementary School cafeteria is located at 68-1730 Hooko Street in Waikoloa Village. Refreshments will be offered.

West Hawaii Community Health Center board members, management staff, as well as medical and dental staff will be on-hand to answer questions and share more information.

To learn more about this event, please call 808-331-6472, or visit WestHawaiichc.org

Zumba at The Shops – Yoga at the Farm

The Shops at Mauna Lani premiers Zumba Fitness on Sunday afternoons starting March 5, 2017, in partnership with Dance 4 Action. Dance 4 Action combines Zumba and fundraising for community nonprofits on Hawaii Island. Their August 2016 Zumba event raised $3,500, which were much needed funds for the West Hawaii Domestic Abuse Shelters.

Photo: Courtesy Dance 4 Action

The Shops is proud to partner with Dance 4 Action, and to offer creative physical fitness activities for residents and guests of the Kohala Coast.  Participants are encouraged to wear sneakers, bring a water bottle and towels. The cost of the class is $10 for adults and children are free. Check-in and registration begins at 3:30 p.m., class takes plance 4-5 p.m. at Center Stage.

For more information, contact Ronnie Claveran, 222-7103.

Discover a whole new way to start your Fridays. Kona Historical Society invites the public to its Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook, where yoga instructor Elizabeth “Liz” Aschenbrenner guides guests every Friday morning through a series of uplifting stretches, toning poses and peaceful meditations during Yoga On The Farm.

These “drop in” outdoor hatha yoga classes strive to benefit the minds and bodies of beginners and experts alike. Each class, participants greet the sun with sun salutations, as well as enjoy a variety of poses, including the warrior series, cat, cow, downward dog and child’s pose. Aschenbrenner is a certified yoga instructor who has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years. Her style of yoga aims to help you connect with your breath while developing strength, mobility and stability. Her classes are truly accessible to all, regardless of age, body type or fitness level. Still, Aschenbrenner advises participants to first check with their doctor before starting something new, including yoga.

Yoga On The Farm participants practice yoga barefoot and on the farmhouse lawn. Kona Historical Society has a couple of yoga mats for newcomers to use, but if you plan to attend regularly, please consider bringing your own mat. After class, all participants enjoy a complimentary cup of 100 percent Kona coffee.

Yoga On The Farm supports Kona Historical Society’s education and outreach efforts. It is a membership benefit and free for all Kona Historical Society members. Classes cost $10 each for nonmembers. Annual Kona Historical Society membership starts at $35 and information is available at www.konahistorical.org/index.php/khs/membership. Reservations are not required to attend Yoga On The Farm.

The Yoga On The Farm schedule for March is as follows:

  • March 3 – from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m.
  • March 10 – from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
  • March 17 – from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
  • March 24 – from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
  • March 31 – from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

The Kona Coffee Living History Farm is located at 82-6199 Mamalahoa Highway in Captain Cook, near mile marker 110. Kona Historical Society is a community-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Recognized for Pro-Environment Voting Record

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard received a 100% score from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) for her pro-environment voting record:

“In Hawaiʻi, we know that protecting our ʻāina and caring for our home is more than just a policy discussion, it’s a basic necessity and responsibility. I will continue working to advance Hawaiʻi’s renewable energy initiatives, protect our coral reefs, keep our water, air and oceans clean, fight against invasive species, and support sustainable growth throughout our state and country. We cannot afford to play politics with our environment—it’s too important for our economy, our security, our health, and the future of our planet,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who select the key votes on which members of Congress should be scored. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including energy, global warming, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. The Scorecard is the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues.

Kupuna Caregivers Assistance Bill Clears Budget Committees

Today, the House Finance committee and the Senate Ways and Means committee approved legislation to assist families caring for aging seniors in their home.

The Kupuna Caregivers assistance bill HB607 / SB534 received strong support from the community, with dozens of allies, advocates and individuals from across the state, submitting more than a hundred pages of testimony in favor of the bills. Many families who would be helped by this legislation shared their personal experiences and the challenges they have faced, trying to balance their work and personal lives, while caring for their loved ones at home.
The strong show of support for the bill is consistent with a recent Ward Research poll that found that over 90% of those who work at least 30 hours per week and qualify for caregivers’ assistance, welcome the relief that SB534/HB607 would afford them

Dr. Clementina Ceria-Ulep, who chairs the long term care task force at Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE), welcomed the passage of the bill through these critical committees as another step forward in what has been a more than a two-decade-old effort to secure assistance for unpaid family caregivers.

“The need to address the care of our kupuna has been growing steadily,” she said. “This is an important step towards addressing that need by giving people the ability to pay for trained caregivers from time to time so that they can attend to other aspects of their work and personal life. It’s a bit of respite for caregivers that can go a long way, and we applaud the members of the committee, and the committee chairs, Representative Sylvia Luke and Senator Jill Tokuda, for moving the bill forward,” she added.

The bills, HB607 and SB534, now move on to be heard by the entire House and Senate, respectively.

Local Divemaster/Photographer Member of 1st Place Team USA at World Shootout Underwater Photo Grand Prix

Kona Honu Divers divemaster and popular local photographer Jeff Milisen joins two other photographers on Team USA at the World Shootout Underwater Photo Grand Prix. Milisen, along with Renee Capozzola and Ron Watkins took home the first place prize in the National Team category, which included a trip to Papua, New Guinea.

Seahorse has an octopus on its head. Photo by Jeff Milisen

“We’re not surprised Jeff was part of a winning team, because he’s won so many other photo competitions,” said Byron Kay, owner of Kona Honu Divers where Milisen works. “He’s such a pro we asked him to once again host our 2nd Annual Kona Underwater Shootout which will be held May. Jeff’s willingness to put himself in situations that make most people squeamish allows him to capture the action up close and personal”.

Milisen specializes in “blackwater” photography of small marine creatures that rise to the surface of the ocean at night, and was the Overall Grand Prize winner in the 2015 Ocean Art photo contest.  Milisen, a biologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying coral reefs, is also a divemaster for Kona Honu Divers and the Director of the annual Kona Underwater Shootout. Check out Milisen’s photos at http://www.iphotograph.fish.

Byron Kay owns Kona Honu Divers, a SCUBA diving, Manta Ray watching and snorkeling activity company and equipment shop.  He also owns Kona Freedivers. Kay is a certified SCUBA and Freediving Instructor who’s a valuable resource for information about Hawaii’s ocean life. He’s also a founder of the Kona Underwater Club, an organization dedicated to local research, education, and cleaning up the debris on the coastline and in the ocean.

Tulsi Gabbard Visits Hawaii Island Kūpuna and Native Hawaiian Veterans

This morning at the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program recognition luncheon in Kona, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) visited with some of the 1,129 kūpuna who serve Hawaiʻi Island communities through the county’s Elderly Activities Division. She spent time visiting with seniors, delivered remarks thanking them for their service, and answered questions about her work in Congress. Last year, kūpuna volunteers on Hawaiʻi Island gave 97,815 hours in service at more than 140 different public and private non-profit agencies.

Photos via: Ilihia Gionson.

In Waimea today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met with Native Hawaiian leaders who are focusing on farming, food security, and sustainability for the homestead land they live on. The Waimea Nui Community Development Initiative is a sustainability project on 61 acres of Hawaiian Homestead land that includes a community ag park with farm lots for small farmers and a post-harvest facility. Soon, small farmers will be able to participate in a community equipment program and training through the College of Tropical Agriculture and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The congresswoman also met with several constituents, including a group organized by Father John Schroedel that has been actively supporting the Orthodox Diocese of Aleppo.

Oahu Man Indicted for Electronic Enticement of a Child

Attorney General Doug Chin announced today that an Oahu grand jury has indicted Jacob Landon Powers for electronic enticement of a child in the first degree.

Jacob Landon Powers

According to the allegations, Powers, via online messaging on his mobile phone, communicated with someone he believed was a fourteen year old girl and arranged to meet her for the purpose of sex. He then arrived at the time and place they had agreed. He was arrested when he arrived for the meeting.

The investigation was conducted by the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children task force in the Attorney General’s office. The prosecution is also being handled by that office.

Attorney General Chin said of the charges: “Luring a minor to have sex is a horrible crime. Not only is the act itself criminal, it can damage the child for the rest of that child’s life. We will vigorously prosecute anyone who does this.”

Powers is 34 years old and a Honolulu resident. He was indicted for one count of electronic enticement of a child in the first degree, a class B felony. The charge is punishable by 10 years in prison without the possibility of probation. Bail is set at $11,000.00 and a bench warrant has been issued for Powers’ arrest. Powers is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Hawaiian-Born Daughter Becomes Commander, Navy Region Southeast

Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar assumed the duties and responsibilities as Commander, Navy Region Southeast during a change of command ceremony aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Florida Feb. 23.

Rear Adm. Babette “Bette” Bolivar

Bolivar was born in Hawaii and raised in various locations in the Western Pacific by traditional Filipino parents Ted Cereno Bolivar, from Nabua in the Philippine province of Camarines Sur and who retired as a Chief Petty Officer from the United States Navy, and Virginia Dolor Bolivar of the Philippine province of Pangasinan.

Bolivar graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in oceanography. She also holds a Master of Science in management from Troy University.

In 1988, following her second tour, Bolivar was accepted to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal / Diving and Salvage Community as a special operations officer.

Bolivar has served in various leadership positions aboard five Navy ships, as well as commanding officer of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1. She has served in numerous positions in the Commander, Navy Installations Command enterprise, including a tour as the CNIC chief of staff and commander, Navy Region Northwest.

Most recently, she served as commander of Joint Region Marianas from August 2014 to January 2017, where she held multiple positions including U.S. Pacific Command/Defense Representative Guam-Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-Federated States of Micronesia-Republic of Palau; Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas; and Commander, Task Force West.

As commander of Navy Region Southeast, Bolivar will be charged with providing support and guidance for 18 installations within the Southeastern United States as well as the Caribbean. The regional command is responsible for shore activities, including each installation’s standards of performance, anti-terrorism and force protection, disaster preparedness, safety, joint services, financial management, public affairs, state and local government liaison, environmental protection and legal affairs.

Puna Patrol Officer Named East Hawaii Officer of the Month Following Actions at Luquin’s Fire

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Puna Patrol Officer Conrad Bidal on Thursday (February 23) as the East Hawaiʻi “Officer of the Month” for February.

Hilo Exchange Club board member Joey Estrella presents an ‘Officer of the Month’ award to Officer Conrad Bidal.

Bidal, who has less than a year of service with the Police Department, was honored for what Sergeant William Derr described as his “extreme courage” while evacuating occupants of apartments above Luquin’s restaurant during a midnight fire that destroyed the structure.

Noticing lights on the second floor of the building after the fire was in progress, Bidal went inside and conducted a search for occupants. He found four people and evacuated them. When he went back to make sure no one else was inside, the occupants returned to retrieve personal belongings. As Bidal completed the task of evacuating them a second time, the building became fully engulfed in flames.

“Officer Bidal’s heroic efforts and personal disregard of his own welfare insured the safety of these four people,” Derr wrote in nomination papers. “The loss of Pāhoa landmarks Akebono Theater and Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant could have been much more tragic had it not been for Officer Bidal’s intervention.”

Bidal was also recognized for his work in solving a burglary while he was a recruit working with a field training officer. In that investigation, Bidal obtained fingerprints from the burglary scene that matched a suspect later discovered in surveillance video footage.

“Officer Bidal’s courage, work ethic, and exemplary application of forensic skill so early in his career are to be applauded,” Derr wrote. “He is a prime example of how we hope all our police officers start their careers, hitting the ground running.”

As “Officer of the Month,” Bidal is 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.

Message From UH Hilo Chancellor: Reorganization Proposal for College of Arts and Sciences, Town Halls Scheduled

Dear Colleagues,

Chancellor Donald Straney

Attached is the updated proposal and related files for the reorganization of the College of Arts and Sciences. I appreciate your patience with the process.

Vice Chancellor Platz and I have scheduled three Town Hall meetings where we invite you to come to discuss this proposal. Schedule of meetings:

  • Friday, Feb. 24, 3:00 p.m., University Classroom Building, room 127.
  • Wednesday, March 1, 9:00 a.m., University Classroom Building, room 127.
  • Thursday, March 2, 11:30 a.m.,  University Classroom Building, room 111.

We welcome your feedback.

We look forward to further conversation.

Sincerely,

Don Straney

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, Visits Inmates

This morning at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility in Olomana (Windward Oʻahu), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, bringing together advocates, experts, educators, health professionals, and leaders from Hawaii’s state, county, judiciary, corrections, and non-profit sectors.

They discussed the current state of Hawaii’s juvenile justice system, and how they’re working toward innovative solutions to help empower our youth, reduce recidivism, and provide service and support to our keiki, their families, and our community at-large.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard toured the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) and the Women’s Community Correctional Center, where she learned about the programs being offered and spent time with inmates. The young men at HYCF shared their hopes and plans for their futures, and the women talked about the importance of vocational training and work opportunities that will help them to succeed and support their families when their time is served and they return home.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the many problems that plague our criminal justice system. She has long advocated for common sense criminal justice reform legislation like the bipartisan SAFE Justice Act, the Sentencing Reform Act, the Smarter Sentencing Act, Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, as well as long overdue reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. She has been a vocal advocate supporting state programs like Drug Courts, Veteran Courts, the Hawaiʻi Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), and the State Juvenile Justice Hoʻopono Mamo Civil Citation Initiative.

DLNR Statement Regarding Conviction of Officer Ethan Ferguson

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has not received the record of conviction for Ethan Ferguson.  At such time this record is received and reviewed, a decision will be made on Mr. Ferguson’s job status.

KHON reported today that “A state law enforcement officer has been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager on Hawaii Island. On Wednesday, a jury found Ethan Ferguson guilty on five counts: two counts of second-degree sex assault, and three counts of fourth-degree sex assault.”

Several news organizations have asked about Ferguson’s mother in connection with this matter. Hawaii Government Employees Association President Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, had nothing to do with his hiring as a Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officer and we have no record of her being listed as a reference.

Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto

DOCARE has implemented changes to its vetting process for all new hires.  This includes extensive background and reference checks, additional evaluation and training for both officers and supervisors, and closer monitoring by supervisors.

Previously, the DLNR stated:

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement  (DOCARE) will cooperate with the Hawaii Police Department criminal investigation.

DOCARE will also conduct its own internal investigation.

Ethan Ferguson has been a Conservation and Resources Enforcement Officer (CREO) since June 27, 2013

He is still in custody and has been served with a letter of removal of police authority, and is being put on administrative leave with pay, pending adjudication.

There are 109 DOCARE officers statewide, and 27 on Hawaii Island. DLNR does criminal background checks for prospective employees.

DOCARE officers are responsible for enforcement activities of the Department. The division, with full police powers, enforces all State laws and rules involving State lands, State Parks, historic sites, forest reserves, aquatic life and wildlife areas, coastal zones, Conservation districts, State shores, as well as county ordinances involving county parks. The division also enforces laws relating to firearms, ammunition, and dangerous weapons.

“Birth Control” for Mosquitoes Targeted at Saving Unique, Imperiled Hawaiian Birds

To protect Hawaiʻi’s unique, imperiled native birds, researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi are teaming up with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to adapt a ‘birth control’ method used across the U.S. mainland to control mosquitoes. Mosquitos are a nuisance and a hazard both to people and to Hawaii’s native birds, which are in danger of extinction from decades of habitat loss, predation and diseases like avian malaria and avian pox.

Scientists from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo are taking the first steps to adapt a safe, targeted, and efficient mosquito control method known as “Incompatible Insect Technique” to reduce the population of the disease-carrying mosquitoes that harm native birds in Hawaiʻi. Incompatible Insect Technique acts like a birth control method for mosquitoes and it has already been adopted and proven successful around the country and the world to protect human health and quality of life. A similar method has been used in Hawaiʻi for decades to control fruit fly pests which are harmful to local agricultural products.

Mosquitoes arrived in Hawai‘i accidentally in the 1800s and are one reason why about two dozen species of Hawai‘i’s remaining native birds are threatened or on the brink of extinction. Today, most of these birds survive at higher elevations where it’s too cold for mosquitoes. But as the climate changes, mosquitoes are moving up hill and bringing disease with them.

“We are already seeing the loss on Kauaʻi of the safe havens of higher elevation forests for our native birds. Mosquito-spread diseases are decimating bird populations and if we do nothing we could lose several more species in the next 10 years,” said Cynthia King, an entomologist with DLNR/DOFAW.

Just one of the 6 types of mosquitoes found in Hawaiʻi harms native birds – the one called Culex quinquefasciatus. Scientists and conservationists are working together to use a bacteria that is naturally-occuring in fruit flies in Hawaiʻi. It is called Wolbachia, and the research, which will be done in controlled laboratory settings, involves giving the male mosquitoes a different strain of Wolbachia than is normally found in them, to prevent them from producing offspring. To reproduce, most mosquitoes carry a type of this Wolbachia in their system. When male mosquitoes with the different strain of Wolbachia try to mate with females, there are no offspring.

“The process for mosquitoes is very similar to techniques that have been used for many decades in Hawaiʻi to control pest fruit flies for the benefit of agriculture,” said King. “It doesn’t eradicate the insect, but helps to safely reduce the population on a landscape scale without the use of pesticides and without harming any other species.”

The technique will not impact the other five mosquito species present in Hawaiʻi, though researchers hope to learn more in the process about control methods that could be applied to the mosquito species that affect human health. If tests are successful, the team will evaluate how to safely apply this method to Hawaiʻi’s remote native forests where birds still reside.

DLNR and its partners will also continue to evaluate other control options to expand tools available to control mosquitoes in Hawaiʻi.

Suzanne Case, DLNR Chair said, “Controlling mosquito populations will greatly benefit our endangered native birds. Mosquitos have only been here for about 200 years, and our native wildlife has evolved without them over millions of years. While some native species may eat small amounts of mosquitoes, there are no species that depend on them, as even bats are documented to prefer larger prey. Reducing mosquitos is good for nature and people in Hawaiʻi.”

Next Step Taken in Potential Recovery For Rescued Pueo

The cargo handlers at Hawaiian Airlines, like anyone else who spotted it, thought a dog or a cat was in the carrier that arrived at Honolulu International Airport for shipping yesterday morning.  Inside this particular crate was a pueo, or Hawaiian short-eared owl, that made headlines across the state recently after a seven-year-old Oahu girl, her father, and another man rescued it from the side of a road.  DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) biologists and the veterinarian, who first treated the bird’s broken wing, believe it likely flew into some sort of line.

Yesterday DOFAW biologists Afsheen Siddiqi and Jason Omick transported the injured pueo to the airport, to be loaded on a Hawaiian Airlines jet for the short-hop to Kona on Hawai‘i island.There, staff from the Hawai‘i Wildlife Center met it to begin its rehabilitation and physical therapy.  Siddiqi said, “At the moment the pueo is stable and it is more active than it was when it originally came in.  It is still receiving pain medications for its broken wing.” She explains the rehab experts will determine whether the bird can be released back into the wild.  If that doesn’t happen it could be sent to a zoo for educational display or in the worst case it could be put to sleep. That would happen if the pueo continued to need pain medications because its wing did not heal properly. No one wants the pueo to suffer indefinitely. Siddiqi believes its prognosis will be clearer in 2-3 weeks.

7-year-old Malia Rillamas spotted the bird sitting on the side of a North Shore highway on the afternoon of Jan. 15, 2017. She asked her dad Jonathan, to pull over.  Then another man, Brian Smith stopped and for the next 2 hours the trio watched over it, until an officer from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources (DOCARE) arrived to take it to Aloha Animal Hospital. For their efforts the Rillamas’ and Smith were presented with DLNR’s first-ever “Citizen Conservationist” awards. Young Malia became the toast of her classmates and asked if she could name the Pueo? DLNR/DOFAW biologists said sure, and she named it “Sunshine,” or Pa ‘ana a ka la.

Due to their declining population the pueo is classified as endangered by the DLNR on O‘ahu only. The species is also protected statewide by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Pueo Resued Follow Up Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

EPA Conducting Pesticide Poisoning Training in Hawaii

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced upcoming trainings for health care workers on how to recognize and treat pesticide poisonings. The classes will be conducted by the Migrant Clinicians Network, with co-sponsors Hawaii Department of Health, the Hawaii Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, with funding from the EPA.

“Quick and accurate identification of pesticide poisoning is important to provide immediate patient care,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These workshops will provide health care workers with the tools they need in such critical situations.”

The trainings are accredited courses that will focus on key decision points in the diagnosis of pesticide exposures and will highlight the usefulness of the EPA publication, “Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisoning, 6th edition”. Copies will be provided to all participants. Through interactive case studies, this training will illustrate effective recognition and treatment of patients who may have been exposed to pesticides.

“The Department of Health is grateful for the partnerships that came together to bring this specialized medical training to the healthcare communities on Kauai and Oahu,” said Dr. Virginia Pressler, Director of the Hawaii Department of Health. “We urge health care professionals to take advantage of this important learning opportunity, and expect to see more offered in this area.”

The classes will be held:

Kauai – March 6, at 9:30 am and 1 pm at the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, 4643 Waimea Canyon Drive, Waimea, HI, Conference Room AB. For more information and registration on the Kauai classes please contact Julie Sommers, (808) 338-9474 – jsommers@hhsc.org or Cheryl Tennberg, ctennberg@hhsc.org

Oahu – March 7, at 9:30 am at the AFFES Building, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 5th floor Conference Room. For more information and registration on the Oahu class please contact Amy K. Liebman, (512) 579-4535, aliebman@migrantclinician.org or Fenix Grange, (808) 586-4248, fenix.grange@doh.hawaii.gov

Heroes in the Fight Against Invasive Species Honored

Hawaii’s 5th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) starts today with a series of volunteer opportunities, and will end with a ceremony in Governor David Ige’s office to recognize people and organizations who’ve been instrumental in the fight against invasive species.

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

Volunteer Opportunities

As part of HISAW, partner organizations around the state are hosting volunteer opportunities for the public to help protect Hawaii from invasive species. This is a great chance to meet people working in conservation and learn about invasive species management. Full event details and contact information are available at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/hisaw/. Please RSVP to reserve a spot!

Kauai

  • February 25, 8-10am: beach cleanup and invasive species removal at Kahili Beach Preserve, organized by Hawaiian Islands Land Trust
  • February 25, 9-10am: Plant Pono workshop, organized by Kauai Nursery and Landscaping, Inc, and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • February 28, 9am-12pm: Weed control and wetland restoration at Huleia Wetland, organized by Malama Huleia and the Kauai Invasive Species Committee
  • March 2, 8:30am: Invasive weed control in Kokee State Park with the Kokee Resource Conservation Program and the Kauai Invasiv Species Commitee

Oahu

  • February 26, 9am-12pm: Invasive algae workday in Maunalua Bay, organized by Malama Maunalua and Pono Pacific
  • February 27, 9am-3pm: Trailwork and fencing at Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, organized by the Oahu Native Ecosystem Protection and Management Program, Division of Forestry and Wildlife
  • February 28, 8:30am-5pm: Invasive weed control on Mt Kaala with the Oahu Army Natural Resources Program
  • February 28: Invasive weed control in Waikane Valley, with the Ohulehule Forest Conservancy

Hawaii Island

  • March 1, 9am: Albizia control training and workday in Hawaiian Paradise Park, Puna. Organized by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee
  • March 1, 5:30-8pm: Little Fire Ant Management Workshop in Kona, by the Hawaii Ant Lab and the County of Hawaii

2017 HISAW Awards

 

COMMUNITY HERO

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

BUSINESS LEADER

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

GREATEST HIT

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

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

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

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

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

MAUI COUNTY MVP

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

OAHU MVP

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

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

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