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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Concerns Grows for Young Monk Seal on Kaua`i

After wildlife biologists and veterinarians relocated a 10-month-old Hawaiian monk seal on March 30th from the Lihi Canal in Kapa‘a, to a beach on the island’s west side they’d hoped she would stay away from the canal.  Two days ago the seal, identified as RH92, returned to the canal along with an adult seal (RK13). Together they’ve been seen feeding on small fish in the manmade waterway along with discarded fish parts. The return of RH92 to Lihi is prompting stepped-up public awareness and outreach and potentially enforcement of littering laws for fishermen who dispose of fish parts in the water.

Jamie Thomton, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Program Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained, “Any time you attract a wild animal into an area where human use is high, you’re increasing the risk of interaction between people and the seal.  You’re also exposing the seal to more risks, such as fishing nets that might be in the water, fishing hooks or strikes by boats.”  The endangered Hawaiian monk seal is protected by both federal and state laws, and injuring or killing a seal carries serious penalties.

The day after RH92 (now carrying a radio transmitter on her back so her movements can be tracked), returned to the canal she rested and basked in the sun on nearby Fuji beach.  As is standard practice with any of Kaua‘i’s population of an estimated 45 Hawaiian monk seals, volunteers posted signs asking people to give her wide berth. “We try to foster the co-existence with public education and outreach,” said Mimi Olry, the Kaua‘i Marine Mammal Response Field Coordinator with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).  She added, “We depend on people taking up a sense of doing what’s appropriate around these large marine mammals.  We’d like to see people respect them, give them their space, and not to create situations that put both seals and humans at risk.”

The disposal of litter, like fish parts, is not only illegal, they decompose in water that people fish and swim in. Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) are increasing their visibility and patrols at Lihi. For now they want to be sure captains, crews, and fishers on boats that launch from the canal’s ramp know that disposing of any fish parts in the water is against the law. If one-on-one education doesn’t work DOCARE officers may begin writing citations for littering.

Monk seals frequently explore inland fresh waterways like streams and rivers. The attraction of discarded fish parts in these areas is particularly hazardous for young monk seals. Over the past two and a half years, two yearling seals were found dead in the Lihi Canal. It’s believed they drowned, possibly after getting entangled in fish nets. Neither seal had any sign of disease or obvious trauma.

“The last thing we want is to lose RH92, because she’s come back to Lihi, for the easy food of discarded fish guts, heads, and tails,” Thomton said.  He added, “We’re focusing outreach, education and possible enforcement efforts on boat fishing, as this is where the parts are coming from.”  The law requires that all fish parts be thrown into garbage cans provided at all State of Hawai‘i small boat harbors.

Hawaiian monk seals feed mostly on small reef fish, tako (octopus), and lobsters. Despite beliefs to the contrary, they do not feed on fish like ono, ahi, and mahi mahi.  Extensive scientific studies have shown what species of prey the monk seals prefer, and there’s no evidence that they feed on the large, fast moving pelagic fish that deep sea fishermen prefer.

Moreover, according to DAR’s Mimi Olry, “Top predators like seals and sharks help keep reef fish populations healthy, because just like wolves on the land, they pick out the sick and injured fish to feed on. Marine mammals are part of our ecosystem and the Hawaiian monk seal is a sentinel species, in that the health of its population can provide advance warnings about environmental conditions for people. We can and should co-exist with them”

There are no plans to move RH92 a second time and it’s hoped with increased outreach and education people will stop throwing fish scraps into the water and she’ll move on to safer locales.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus On Invading Parakeets During Hawaii Invasive Species Week

It’s another spectacular sunset near Spouting Horn on Kauai’s south side.  As people gather at the shoreline to catch a glimpse of the fabled green flash, their eyes turn inland for the green flash in the sky. This is the nightly invasion of rose-ringed parakeets. Their highly visible presence on the Garden Island provides a current and dramatic example of how a seemingly innocuous species, left unchecked and over time, can become a public health hazard, a real nuisance, and have serious impacts on the economy and the environment.

Kaua‘i County Council Member Derek Kawakami explained, “What turned out to be a novelty and something we’d kind of entertain ourselves with while we watched them roost in the evenings, turned into a nuisance once our farmers approached us and started saying, hey as cute as these birds are, they are very destructive to our lychee and longan crops. Increasingly we’ve been hearing more and more concerns from our farmers, our gardeners, from people who live in these neighborhoods; that unfortunately play host to these rose-ring parakeets. “  

They’re also known as the ring-necked parakeets. Kawakami is one of numerous government representatives fielding calls about what’s become the most visible invasive species on Kaua‘i. Rewind to circa 1968 and Bill Lucey of the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee shared what he learned. “We did research through the Bishop Museum and discovered there was a bed and breakfast somewhere in Lāwaʻi and they brought in some rose-ringed parakeets and clipped their primaries and had them sort of hanging out free by the front porch and around the B&B.  They got away from there and started establishing themselves at some point after 1968.” Figuring out what to do about this marauding, winged invader has become a top priority for Lucey, his team, and many others around the Garden Island. He explained, “Parakeets are what we call a slow invader actually, since they’ve been here for 50 years or so. They don’t really exhibit a fast explosion until they reach a critical mass. So for a number of years there were 50 or a few hundred and then over time they reached the point where there are a few thousand and then they’re all having off spring. At that point it becomes a very strong invasion and the invasion curve starts increasing rapidly.”

Current estimates put the rose-ringed population at around 5,000 birds. That’s plenty to cause big headaches for Kaua‘i’s agricultural seed companies, small independent farmers, backyard growers and condo owners. Learn their stories and see the damage this efficient winged army is causing environmentally and economically, and you begin to understand why so many people are so concerned and want strong measures for a counterattack.

Junior Extension Agent Kathryn Fiedler with the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) is one of the front-line experts now tracking the damage the parakeets are causing. She says she’s never seen such intense flocking and added, “It’s really astounding the damage they can cause. Rose-ringed parakeets are a small bird.  You wouldn’t think they could do too much. We’ve seen some homeowners have an entire tangerine tree striped in one day.  It’s quite extensive actually. The problem is they are birds and they bring in other diseases as well, so even if you see just a little bit of feeding it pretty much ruins the crop around it too. So they physically remove the fruit and also contaminate fruits and vegetables as well.”

Farmer Jerry Ornellas confirms that saying, “We definitely have the issue of food safety. These birds will land in the tops of the trees, they’ll poop and if any of their droppings gets onto the other fruit… even if it hasn’t been damaged by the birds, you have to discard that fruit. And if you ever get a food safety audit and they see birds in the trees, you’re in trouble. You’re not going to pass the audit.” In 2016 Ornellas said he lost 30 percent of his crop to the parakeet or about six thousand dollars. He also verifies that like any strong invasion force, the parakeets utilize advance scouts and choose lofty look- outs. “They don’t like to hang on the sides of the trees. They don’t like to be vulnerable apparently so they like to perch where they can see what’s going on. So they’ll take all the fruit off the top of the tree, which is the best fruit because it gets the best sunlight and sizes up pretty well.” Farmers like Ornellas are using netting to try and protect their crops. It works okay for low growing fruits and vegetables, but is expensive and tough to put on broad, towering trees like lychee.

Outside the CTAHR office in Lihue, farmer Gary Ueunten holds a hollow shell. It’s all that’s left of a once ripe lilikoi, another of the bird’s many favored pickings. On his farm in Lāwaʻi he explains, “The parakeet invasion started about four or five years ago. The first crop they started doing damage on was lychee and they devastated my lychee for one season when we had a lot of fruit. The next season I used wax bags from Japan until they figured out they could eat right through the bag so that didn’t work. Then I went to netting, the black netting, but that’s really cumbersome and hard to put on trees. And it also will catch other birds and that’s not desirable.” He says a flock of parakeets can wipe out an entire tree overnight.

Vast fields of seed corn on Kaua‘i’s west side are also being victimized by these voracious eaters. Large agricultural interests the Syngenta Corp. have been forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to protect fields of corn from the birds. Syngenta’s site manager on Kaua‘i Robin Young, surveys long rows of corn now draped in huge, beige nets. It’s the company’s costly response to the invading parakeets.  Young remarked, “Oh it’s devastating. For example the field I’m standing in is about a 2 ½ acre field. I started noticing the parrots coming into the area about two weeks ago; at first maybe four or five of them. I watched them every evening. I wasn’t too concerned until about five days ago they came in by the flocks. There were probably about 500 out in this field I’d guesstimate.”

From the corn fields, to fruit farms, to condo complexes around Poʻipū many people have developed a quick and dramatic change of heart about the rose-ringed parakeet. No longer viewed as pretty, smart, and interesting birds to observe, the parakeets are now seen as public enemy number one in some corners of Kauai.

At the Prince Kuhio Condos near Spouting Horn, manager Matt Drake and homeowner’s association president Jack Barnard detail the horrible and unhealthy messes the parakeet flocks leave in their wake. Until they started using some tools of modern warfare, like drones and lasers, to try and scare dozens of birds out of Royal palms and other trees each night, they felt powerless. Drake explained, “Originally when they first showed up it was about four hours a day of just poop clean up on our property.

Since we’ve started shooting lasers at the tree tops we’ve whittled it down to two hours a day and flying a drone as a deterrent, we’re actually down quite a bit with that as well.” The complex had to cut down three trees around the swimming pool to keep the deck and the water from being covered in bird droppings. Barnard said, “It seems, if you’re successful in winning one battle they simply take flight and the fight elsewhere, using surprise to their advantage. One day there were no parakeets and the very next day our entire property was covered in droppings. It happened overnight and it was very overwhelming.”

Across the road at the Kuhio Shores Condominiums, manager Albert Fernandez joked, “If you were to rent a black convertible, the next day it’s going to be a white splattered convertible.”  The palm trees lining the property are favored roosts for the birds so Fernandez said he had the trees butchered to try and prevent landings. Most now have three or four short, vertical palm fronds remaining. Fernandez adds, “We had to do a lot of serious haircutting and then we had to butcher those palm trees. Boy, it doesn’t look good after we trimmed those. It’s just a small spike sticking up there and a lot of our tourists don’t really understand why our palm trees look like that. Normally they don’t look like that, but that’s the only solution. We had to temporarily cut down on the poop.”

Temporary measures are the best anyone can take now, while various agencies search for permanent solutions, hoping for broad governmental support to reduce the population on Kaua‘i, and have control measures in place before the rose-ringed parakeets expand their territory. Council member Kawakami said, “I can only speak for myself and some of my colleagues that we have recognized this is a problem and we’re looking toward a collaborative effort between county, state, and federal governments. It is going to be an on-going issue. We don’t want to see this thing turn into another coqui frog, where we could have addressed it early, before it turns into some kind of catastrophic event.”

It could be catastrophic on numerous levels if the birds fly higher and higher into the mountains and begin impacting native plants and watersheds. Thomas Kaiakapu, the Kaua‘i Branch Wildlife Manager for the DLNR Division of Wildlife and Forestry is one of the biologists monitoring the bird’s potential movement mauka. “Right now they’re in the lowland areas of Kaua‘i.  But if they start to move into the upland mountains, that’s a concern for us, because that’s where most of our native species thrive. Left unchecked and uncontrolled the parakeet population here could explode to more than 10,000 birds in the next five years,” Kaiakapu explained.

Numerous other places, particularly northern European countries, are also dealing with out-of-control parakeet populations. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case concluded, “If there’s a silver lining to this story we hope it raises awareness about the impacts of invasive species on Hawaii’s environment and economy. In the case of the rose-ringed parakeet, we’re seeing the detrimental effects right now and this will only get worse the more their numbers increase and they invade additional territory. We’re committed to working with all of our partners and the state legislature to address this issue.”

People across the state are recognizing Hawai‘i Invasive Species Week this week, with outstanding volunteers in the fight against invasive species to be recognized at a State Capitol ceremony in early March.

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

Two Men Indicted for Attempted Murder of Kauai Police Officers – One Still at Large

Attorney General Doug Chin announced that a Kauai grand jury yesterday indicted Kalei Hiilei Goodwin and Kanbert A.T. Alapai for the attempted murder of three Kauai police officers while in the performance of their official duties. On February 9, 2017, Goodwin and Alapai, while driving separate vehicles during the same incident, allegedly attempted to run over Officers Brian Silva, James Rodriguez, and Kapena Wilson.

Kalei Goodwin, left, and Kanbert Alapai

Attorney General Doug Chin said, “Our police officers put themselves on the front line every day to keep us safe. If their lives are ever threatened, the law demands severe consequences.”

Attempted murder of a law enforcement officer is punishable by life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

In addition to the attempted murder charges, the grand jury indicted Goodwin for resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle. Goodwin and Alapai were also indicted for drug offenses.

Alapai is currently in custody and his bail has been set at $250,000. Goodwin is still at large. A warrant has been issued for Goodwin’s arrest with bail set at half a million dollars ($500,000.00). Goodwin is 31 years old, 5’3” tall, weighs approximately 175 pounds, and has brown eyes and black hair. A photograph of Goodwin is attached. Anyone with information that could help locate Goodwin should call the Kauai Police Department dispatch line at (808) 241-1711 or Kauai CrimeStoppers at (808) 246-8300.

Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

HDOA Quarantines Coffee Plants on Kauai That May Have Been Shipped from Oahu

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is investigating the source of coffee plants found at a Home Depot on Kauai earlier this week. Coffee plants from islands infested with the coffee berry borer (CBB) are restricted from being transported to uninfested islands, such as Kauai. Hawaii Island, Oahu and Maui have established populations of CBB.

coffee berry borer (CBB)

Eight coffee plants were found at the Kauai store by HDOA Plant Pest Control specialists conducting pest surveillance on Monday. Since then, HDOA personnel have been working to determine where the plants came from and, at this point, it appears that the plants were transported from Oahu. Coffee berries on those plants have been examined by HDOA entomologists in Honolulu and no CBB have been found. Those plants have been quarantined and will be destroyed as a precaution. HDOA has asked the retailer to provide information on recent plant shipments. Also as a precaution, anyone who purchased coffee plants from that store is encouraged to contact HDOA on Kauai at (808) 241-7132 or the State’s toll-free Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (7378).

“The department is taking this matter very seriously and is working with the store and nurseries to determine the exact source of the coffee plants,” Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, said while attending a conference on the Mainland.

One of the most devastating coffee pests, CBB was first detected in the state in Sept. 2010 in Kona and discovered in Ka`u in May 2011. In Dec. 2014, it was discovered on Oahu and was reported on Maui in Dec. 2016.

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

CBB is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America. It is still unknown how CBB made its way to Hawaii Island and how it got to Oahu and Maui.

Hawaii has strict importation rules that require fumigation of all green coffee beans imported into the state to rid the beans of pathogens and insect pests. Coffee plants and plant parts are also restricted from being imported into Hawaii under Plant Quarantine rules.

After the discovery of CBB in Hawaii, HDOA issued a quarantine order that requires certain treatments and inspection by HDOA Plant Quarantine inspectors prior to shipping interisland. Inspectors will either attach a tag, label or stamp to indicate the shipment passed inspection requirements. For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment.

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

Island Air Announces Flight Expansion Plans

476 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island, compared to the 266 flights per week it currently offers

With the addition of new Q400 aircraft to its fleet, Island Air has begun increasing the number of interisland flights to its schedule.

Island Air’s first new Q400 aircraft, named Ola Kūpono, which means “safety in everything we do,” began service on January 12, 2017. Photo courtesy of island Air

Over the next four months, Island Air plans to phase in new regularly scheduled flights that will significantly increase its roundtrip service between Oʻahu and the neighbor islands. The number of daily roundtrip flights between Honolulu and Kahului will double to 16; between Honolulu and Kona will increase from six to 10; and the number of daily roundtrip flights between Honolulu and Līhu‘e will grow from six to eight. The airline will also add flights to accommodate high travel days (Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays) and spring break travel demands.

By the beginning of May, Island Air expects to offer up to 476 flights each week between O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i Island, compared to the 266 flights per week it currently offers.

“The added flight service is in response to growing demand from our customers and travel partners and also reflects the improved operational efficiencies of the new Q400 aircraft that are being phased into our fleet” said David Uchiyama, president and chief executive officer of Island Air. “The entire Island Air team remains focused on enhancing the interisland travel experience for residents and visitors, which includes providing more convenient options to island hop, either for business or to enjoy a weekend getaway or visit.”

Island Air’s first new Q400 began service on January 12. The aircraft is 30 percent faster than conventional turboprops, resulting in shorter flight times, which enables Island Air to operate more flights each day. The airline plans to add up to seven new Q400s by the end of the year and will transition its existing fleet of five ATR-72 aircraft out of service.

Island Air currently offers eight roundtrips daily between Honolulu and Kahului (one flight was added on Feb. 1), with three additional roundtrips on Fridays and Sundays; six roundtrips daily between Honolulu and Kona, with one additional roundtrip on Fridays and Sundays; and six roundtrips daily between Honolulu and Līhu‘e.

Island Air’s flight schedule can be viewed at: https://www.islandair.com/flight-schedules

 

Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits to Acquire Kauai Lands – Hawaii Rep Responds

State Representative Kaniela Ing (South Maui) issued the following statement on Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to drop lawsuits to acquire Kauai land parcels.

“I am humbled. Thousands of everyday people stood up and spoke out against one of the most influential billionaires, the best PR professionals, and the best attorneys in the world, and we won,” said Ing.

“To Mark Zuckerberg, thank you for doing the right thing and hearing our voices.  You now have an opportunity to set the bar for what being a good neighbor and an ally to indigenous peoples looks like.

“To everyone who helped share the story, mahalo and congratulations. This is a major victory for Native Hawaiians and everyday folks everywhere. Remember this feeling when you feel powerless.  We now know for sure that when thousands of people stand together, we win. Aloha prevailed.

“I look forward to having conversations with Mr. Zuckerberg and the families involved. I trust that we will find a fair solution that ensures Mr. Zuckerberg’s privacy and security, opens trail and beach access for everyone, and keeps Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands.

“Now that the Zuckerberg case has brought Quiet Title claims to the fore, I will continue to pursue legislation that will solve this issue once and for all.”

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement on Zuckerberg Reconsidering Lawsuits

“I am heartened to hear that Mark Zuckerberg is reconsidering his lawsuits against the indigenous kuleana land owners on Kauai,” said State Rep. Kaniela Ing.

“This shows the power everyday people wield when we band together to stand up for Native rights and our ‘aina. The people’s voice can and will overcome big money and celebrity–even against the fifth richest man in the world,” Ing said, referencing the videos and articles he shared on Facebook regarding the issue, which garnered over 170,000 views and thousands of shares each.

“Hawaii has always been a welcoming place, but over time, we have learned what exploitation can look like. In his eagerness to join our island community, Zuckerberg may have overlooked the diligence needed to dutifully enculturate and address an understandably skeptical community.

“I mahalo Mark Zuckerberg for his words of aloha and willingness to talk, but I will not stand down until he follows through with action.”

Ing said three steps Mr. Zuckerberg could take: “(1) officially drop the lawsuits; and, (2) donate to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to help protect native families from future Quiet Title actions. Then, (3) join us at the table to restart a positive dialog as mutual stewards of land and culture.”

“In the meantime, we should all maintain aloha and grant Mr. Zuckerberg a chance to meet his promise to talk story, explain his intentions, and make right with the community. We will be here watching and willing to share our mana’o.”

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement in Response to Zuckerberg Lawsuit

Rep. Kaniela Ing (D-South Maui) issued a statement in response to the controversy surrounding Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s 100-acre Kauai estate, and will be introducing legislation through his House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs to address issues with “quiet title” and “Kuleana Lands” law.

“Zuckerberg is using the same legal loophole that sugar barons have historically exploited to scoop thousands of acres of Hawaiian lands. Zuckerberg’s actions may be legal and slightly more transparent, but it doesn’t make them right,” Ing said.

“We need to look at this issue through the eyes of the families affected. Here we have the world’s sixth richest individual, with a team of the world’s best lawyers, suing you, then asking you to make a deal. Obviously, no matter how expensive, you will lawyer up too.”

Ing claims that in these cases, defendants typically spend more on attorney fees than any payout they may receive. “So in the end, you have a mainland billionaire exploiting our legal system, and bullying his way through local residents, all to build his beach playground. This is not the intent of the law.”

Ing said that the State should take partial blame, because of outdated Kuleana Land title laws. A major problem with Kuleana Lands is that over generations of inheritances, land is divided into such tiny parcels that are legally worth nothing and not worth fighting over, if records can even be found. But Ing says these incremental losses adds up, and that of the original 23,000 acres designated Kuleana Lands, only a few thousand remain.

Ing claims there are better ways to address the dispute. “I was always taught that when disputes arise, to approach folks with aloha, talk story, and try to ho’oponopono. In Hawaii, you don’t initiate conversation by filing a lawsuit,” said Ing. “If Zuckerberg truly cared about Hawaiian culture, and these families, he would (1) let them hui together as a trust, rather than fighting them off one by one, then, (2) he would pay for and enter mediation to reach a fair deal without litigation.”

Ing’s bill, which is being drafted and will be submitted by next Wednesday, will require just that. “My proposal is fair and will help address this and hundreds of other quiet title cases that are weighted too heavily for the plaintiff. It goes well beyond sympathy for Native Hawaiians, because it could happen to anyone. We must stop mainland billionaires from stacking money to tilt Hawaii’s legal system against local residents.”

Delta Announces New Daily Nonstop Flights Between Seattle and Kauai

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement regarding the announcement that Delta Air Lines will be launching daily nonstop flights between Seattle and Kauai beginning this December.

“Delta’s expansion of service to Kauai from its Pacific Northwest hub speaks to the confidence the airline has in the Garden Isle to drive demand from travelers in the greater Seattle area and nationally.

“Reliable air access extending throughout the Hawaiian Islands is instrumental to our tourism industry’s continued viability to support businesses and residents statewide. Delta’s new Seattle-Lihue service strengthens Hawaii’s ties to one of our major gateway cities, and will make it easier for travelers anywhere in the mainland U.S. to make daily flight connections to Kauai.

“It’s gratifying that Delta has factored Kauai into its nationwide expansion plans considering the options available to the airline. HTA meets with Delta’s route planners on a regular basis, which included the Airline Summit we hosted last September at the Hawaii Tourism Conference. As HTA does with all carriers, we provided information on the advantages of increasing flights to Hawaii, especially to the neighbor islands.

“Kauai’s economy will benefit significantly from this new service. Delta’s Seattle-Lihue flights on Boeing 757 aircraft will add 63,510 air seats annually to Kauai, generating an estimated $77.9 million in direct visitor spending for the island, and $9.1 million in tax revenue for the State.”
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Hawaiian Airlines to Begin Nonstop Service Between Kauai and Hawaii Island

Tickets as low as $89* one way now available for flights starting March 12

Hawaiian Airlines, Hawai‘i’s flagship carrier, today announced it will launch once daily non-stop service between Kaua‘i’s Līhu’e Airport (LIH) and Kona International Airport (KOA) on Hawai‘i Island beginning Sunday, March 12. This is the first time in the airline’s history that it will connect Līhu‘e and Kona with a direct flight.

“Demand from our kama‘āina and visitors for travel between Hawai‘i Island and Kaua‘i has been growing steadily over the past few years,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “We are proud to now offer our guests direct access between these islands, in addition to our connecting flights through Honolulu or Maui. This gives travelers greater flexibility and convenience when traveling through the Hawaiian Islands.”

The 263-mile flight becomes Hawaiian’s longest Neighbor Island route, besting its flights between Hilo, Hawai‘i Island (ITO) and Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on O‘ahu by nearly 60 miles.

LĪHU’E (LIH)/KONA (KOA) SCHEDULE
*beginning March 12, 2017

Flight Route Departs Arrives  Frequency
HA 599 KOA – LIH 9:38 a.m. 10:36 a.m. Daily
HA 500 LIH – KOA 3:44 p.m. 4:44 p.m. Daily

Hawaiian first launched flights to Kona from Honolulu on July 10, 1949 and started service from Honolulu to Līhu‘e six months later on Jan. 8, 1950. Today, the state’s largest and longest serving carrier operates an average of 21 daily departures from each airport with its Boeing 717 fleet, including:

  • LIH – HNL: 17 flights
  • LIH – Kahului Airport (OGG): four flights
  • KOA – HNL: 16 flights
  • KOA – OGG: five flights*
    *two flights operated by ‘Ohana by Hawaiian’s ATR42 aircraft

During the busy summer months, Hawaiian also offers direct flights from both Kona and Līhu‘e to Los Angeles and from Līhu‘e to Oakland, California.  In December 2016, Hawaiian started its first-ever international service from Kona with thrice-weekly flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

*Tickets between Līhu‘e and Kona, starting as low as $89 one way including taxes and fees, are now available for purchase online at HawaiianAirlines.com.  Fare is available for non-stop, one-way flights between Līhu‘e, HI and Kona, HI. Tickets must be booked by 1/19/17 for travel between 3/12/17 – 5/24/17 and are only valid in the Economy (coach) cabin.  Fares are subject to seat availability during the travel period shown. Other restrictions apply. Additional baggage charges may apply. See HawaiianAirlines.com for terms and conditions.

Two Nene Goslings Featured in Video Struck and Killed by Cars

Two of three baby Nene photographed grazing in lush grass alongside the Hanalei River last month were killed by cars as they attempted to cross a highway.  Video shot by DLNR and distributed to media across the state on Dec. 28, 2016, showed a family of Nene; mother, father and their three goslings resting and eating on the stream’s bank underneath the Hanalei Bridge.  The deaths of the two goslings happened last week.

Jean Olbert, a biologist with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, specializes in protection of Nene on Kaua‘i.  She said, “Many of these deaths are preventable if drivers would simply heed warning signs, slow down, and exercise caution in areas where Nene families commonly breed, nest, and raise their young.”

Olbert and other state biologists continue to look for novel ways to get the word out about Nene road strikes. Our first goal is to increase awareness to visitors on the island who may be less familiar with the native wildlife. Road strikes happen on other islands, but have been particularly bad on Kauai recently with eleven birds struck and killed by vehicles since last December. More than 50 birds have been killed in this manner in the past two years. On Kaua‘i, the worst locations for Nene deaths are around the Hanalei Bridge, on Kilauea Road near the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, and on the west side of the island.

The greatest number of road deaths occur between December and April during the peak breeding and molting season. During this time both adults and goslings can’t fly and especially vulnerable to passing cars and trucks.  Nene like to forage for food along highway edges and ditches that are regularly mowed.  Runoff from paved surfaces helps grow especially desirable grass in these areas. DLNR is opening discussions with the Dept. of Transportation and Kaua‘i County to explore reducing and/or changing roadside vegetation that isn’t as attractive to Nene.

Olbert said most birds are killed on roads in the early morning and evening hours. “There’s a Nene crossing warning sign within 25 feet of where video and photographs of the family were taken.  We really implore all drivers on Kaua‘i to watch for the signs, the Nene, and drive safely.”

Second Informational Meeting on Sea Level Rise Adaptation in Hawai’i

The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold an informational meeting on sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation on Kaua‘i, Monday, January 09, 2017.  This meeting is one of a series of public informational meetings being held state wide in an effort to educate people about the impacts of sea level rise and to gather comments and input about key issues and concerns regarding preparedness and adaptation.  The first meeting was held on Oahu last June.

Climate change has the potential to profoundly impact our wellbeing and way of life.  In particular, rising sea levels will increase the occurrence and severity of coastal erosion and flooding, threatening natural resources and economic sectors concentrated along low-lying shores.  “We are in the process of developing a Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report (SLR Report) that is to be submitted in anticipation of the 2018, Hawaii State Legislature and we are interested in soliciting input from our island communities to help us complete the report,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.  “This SLR Report is the first state-wide assessment of the impacts of sea level rise on our coastal areas.  Using the best available scientific knowledge, the SLR Report will help us prepare for future sea level rise and present recommendations to reduce our exposure to SLR hazards such as erosion and extreme flooding”, said Sam Lemmo, Co-Chair of the Interagency Climate Adaptation Committee”.

The Kaua‘i meeting will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Līhu‘e Civic Center, Moikeha Building, Meeting Room 2A-2B located at 4444 Rice Street in Līhu‘e.  Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance please contact the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (OCCL) at least four days prior to the public hearing. For additional information contact OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/.

50 Nene Killed by Vehicles on Kaua’i Highways in the Last Two Years

In the final weeks of 2016, eight Nene (Hawaiian Goose) have been killed by vehicles along a two mile stretch of the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha. Nene are only found in Hawai‘i and are listed as endangered due to their low number, with an estimated 1,200 remaining on Kaua‘i. In the past two years 50 Nene have been struck and killed by cars across the roadways of Kaua‘i. Typically the majority of vehicle strikes occur in Hanalei and Kilauea, however the most recent strikes are occurring on the west side of the island.

It is believed that 25,000 Nene were present in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain Cook arrived in 1778. By the mid 1940’s only 50 birds remained. Since then, through captive breeding efforts and extensive predator control the population is beginning to grow with almost 3,000 birds statewide. Even with ongoing conservation efforts Nene are still considered to be the rarest goose species in the world.

Nene begin building nests and laying eggs as early as August although the greatest number of road strikes occur  between December and April during the peak of the breeding and molting season. It is during this time of year that both adults and goslings are flightless for a period of time and are especially vulnerable. Nene are often seen foraging along the edges of highways  and ditches as a result of regular mowing and runoff from the pavement creating especially desirable grass in these areas.

Jean Olbert, a Nene biologist with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “With recent rains on the west side, reports of Nene crossing the highway in Kekaha have increased dramatically. Nene regularly cross the road in the evening and early morning hours making it even more important to be on the lookout during these times. Nene remain with their mates for life and travel with their families during this time of year. After a Nene is killed on a road the remaining family members are often unwilling to leave the body, resulting in multiple birds being killed over a short period of time.”

Nene crossing signs have recently been posted by the Department of Transportation along the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha and the Kuhio Highway in Hanalei in regions where birds frequently cross roadways. DLNR/DOFAW is working with county and state transportation departments and federal partners to potentially add more signs in high-strike zones. Drivers are asked to please slow down and be extra attentive in these areas, especially in low light conditions.

To report an injured or dead bird on Kaua‘i please contact the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 808-274-3433.

EPA Files Complaint Against Syngenta for Farmworker Safety Violations on Kauai

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint alleging that Syngenta Seeds, LLC violated numerous federal pesticide regulations meant to protect agricultural workers at its crop research farm in Kekaha, Kauai. EPA is seeking civil penalties of over $4.8 million for the violations.

Click to read full lawsuit

On January 20, 2016, 19 workers entered a Syngenta field recently sprayed with a restricted use organophosphate insecticide. Ten of these workers were taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. Restricted use pesticides are not available to the general public because of their high toxicity, potential for harm and impact on the environment.

“Reducing pesticide exposure is a high priority, as it directly affects the health of farmworkers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is committed to enforcing the federal law that protects those who spend long hours in the fields. We appreciate working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to respond to this serious incident.”

The company named in the complaint does business as Syngenta Hawaii, LLC., a subsidiary of Syngenta AG, a global enterprise that produces chemicals and seeds. The EPA complaint states that Syngenta misused the pesticide “Lorsban Advanced,” and it failed in its duties to adequately implement the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act’s Worker Protection Standard.

Specifically, EPA alleges that Syngenta failed to notify its workers to avoid fields recently treated with pesticides. The company then allowed or directed workers to enter the treated field before the required waiting period had passed, and without proper personal protective equipment. After the workers’ exposure, Syngenta failed to provide adequate decontamination supplies onsite and failed to provide prompt transportation for emergency medical attention.

An inspector from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture was present at the Syngenta facility when the exposure incident occurred, prompting the State’s immediate investigation. In March, HDOA referred the matter to EPA for follow-up investigation and enforcement. In April, EPA inspectors conducted a series of inspections, which led to the complaint.

The active ingredient in “Lorsban Advanced” is chlorpyrifos, which in small amounts may cause a runny nose, tears, sweating, or headache, nausea and dizziness. More serious exposures can cause vomiting, muscle twitching, tremors and weakness. Sometimes people develop diarrhea or blurred vision. In severe cases, exposure can lead to unconsciousness, loss of bladder and bowel control, convulsions, difficulty in breathing, and paralysis. Symptoms can appear within minutes and may last days or weeks.

For EPA’s complaint please visit: https://www.epa.gov/hi/matter-syngenta-seeds-llc-dba-syngenta-hawaii-llc

For more information on pesticide Worker Protection Standard visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps

Large Fishing Net Removed From Beach at Kapa’a

A large fishing net, estimated to weigh about two tons, was removed from the beach at Kapa‘a fronting the Coral Reef Resort, yesterday.

Staff from the Kaua‘i office of the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), Department of Land and Natural Resources first learned about the net mass very late Wednesday evening via a posting on social media. After an initial on-site assessment early Thursday morning by Kaua‘i DOBOR District Manager Joseph Borden, DOBOR staffers were dispatched to move and secure the net.

As far as staff could tell, no marine life was trapped in the next, and not even barnacles were evident.

Two sizable, heavy trucks with chains were required to roll the partially buried in sand net mass above the high wash of the waves and onto the property of the Coral Reef Resort hotel.

The net was staged there with the permission of the hotel for removal today. The net mass and any debris that came loose during the removal have been collected by Conserve Kauai and the net mass will be shipped to O‘ahu for recycling/disposal.

Reports of large nets or marine debris on shorelines may be made to dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov.

36 Endangered Hawaiian Seabirds Fledge in First Two Years of Relocation Effort

“An enormous success,” is how people and organizations involved in an effort to further protect endangered Hawaiian seabirds describe the first two seasons of translocating Hawaiian Petrels and the first Newell’s Shearwaters to a predator-proof enclosure at Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on Kaua‘i’s north shore.

Newell’s Shearwater Miracle Chick and First Fledglings

Today, the last of 20 Hawaiian Petrels brought into the 7.8 acre Nihoku colony this fall, fledged – flying safely out to sea.  Dr. Lindsay Young, of Pacific Rim Conservation, the non-profit organization responsible for care and feeding of the birds at Nihoku, said, “Each time one of these young birds fledges it leads us one step closer to our ultimate goal of recovery for these native birds. A huge number of individuals and organizations are involved in this project and the success of these first two years of translocations bodes well for the future.”

All of the birds were collected from colonies located in Kaua‘i’s rugged, mountainous interior, where the birds are under threat from introduced predators and loss of breeding habitat.  This, coupled with collisions with powerlines and attraction to artificial lights, has dramatically reduced their populations on Kaua’i.  Once carefully extracted from their burrows, the birds were flown by helicopter to Princeville airport where they were then driven to the Nihoku enclosure.

There the birds were placed into artificial burrows and, over the course of several weeks were fed and cared for by a dedicated team until they finally fledged. Dr. André Raine, who leads the Kaua‘i Endangered Forest Bird Recovery Project explained, “Like the proverbial ‘canary in the coal mine,’ Kaua‘i’s endangered seabirds serve as a warning for the overall health of our forests and watersheds.  With the breeding populations of these iconic birds dropping so precipitously in the last two decades, we should look to the overall health of our native forests and watersheds which is also at risk.”

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a primary partner in the planned five-year translocation effort to establish breeding colonies of Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters at Nihoku. Hannah Nevins, ABC Seabird Program Director, remarked, “The Nihoku colony is the only fully protected colony of federally listed seabirds in Hawai‘i and what’s happened over the past two years is a major achievement and step forward in stabilizing and recovering these important endemic Kaua‘i seabirds.”

The effort is a collaboration among the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), Pacific Rim Conservation, American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. KESRP is a DOFAW/Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit project. Other partners also provided much-needed assistance for the project. The Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative provided critical support for predator control in collaboration with DOFAW at montane nesting areas within the Hono O Na Pali Natural Area Reserve and the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) at Upper Limahuli Preserve. NTBG also conducted vegetation restoration at Nihokū, where the fence is located in the refuge. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation provided critical funding support. The Kaua‘i DOFAW Natural Area Reserve team also provided on-the-ground support.

“We hope that residents of Kaua‘i, folks from around the state, and Hawai‘i’s millions of visitors, along with people the world over will appreciate the scope of this management tool and partnership as a critical step toward reversing the decline of both Hawaiian Petrels and Newell’s Shearwaters,” concluded Heather Tonneson, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s, Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

Annual Arbor Day Plant Sale this Friday on Kauai at Pua Loke Nursery

Common and rare native plants of Hawai‘i will be available for purchase from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, November 4, at the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) Pua Loke Nursery, 4398-D Pua Loke St., Lihu‘e, (in the parking lot behind the Dept. of Agriculture. This annual plant sale in celebration of Hawai‘i’s Arbor Day marks 48 years since the first DOFAW plant sale was held in 1968.

hayden-arbor-dayLocal floral enthusiasts and rare plant collectors look forward to the annual event, especially since DOFAW began offering federally listed threatened and endangered plants, native to Hawai‘i and used for the state’s conservation programs.

This year’s anniversary sale will feature the delicate red flowered koki‘o ‘ula (Hibiscus clayi) historically found in east facing dry forests of Nounou and Anahola mountains.  This rare hibiscus is endemic to Kaua‘i only, meaning it is found nowhere else in the world, and will bear a numbered tag for authenticity.

Other rare plant offerings will include the native white hibiscus from Kaua‘i’s north shore, Hibiscus waimeae variety hanarae and the miniature green flowered Hibiscadelphus distans also known as hau kuahiwi.

Arbor Day sale attendees will also find an assortment of common native plants available for sale including wili wili, a lowland, dry forest tree commonly found on the leeward sides of the island with reddish-orange seeds that were traditionally strung into handsome lei; kou, another lowland tree that prefers sunny, warm coastal areas and the versatile ‘a‘ali‘i which can be found growing from mauka to makai.  Other native plants available for sale are ‘akia, kulu‘i, maile, ma‘o, naupaka and pohinahina.

In addition to encouraging the use of native plants in home landscaping, DOFAW will offer for sale, puakenikeni (Fagraea berteroana), a non-invasive exotic ornamental tree cherished for its fragrant flowers used in lei making.

This is a great opportunity to support DOFAW’s programs on Kaua‘i and bring home plants to cultivate your native garden.

For more information, please call our DOFAW nursery at 241-3762.