Nominations Sought For The Hawaii Big Tree Competition

The holiday season marks the beginning of the annual Hawaii Big Tree Competition.  Sponsored by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and American Forests, the program focuses attention on the largest trees in each species, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of healthy trees and forests.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

In 2014, a coconut palm in Hawaii Kai, Coco, was crowned the national Big Tree winner and the National Ultimate Big Tree after several weeks of online voting.

The Hawai‘i Big Tree Competition does not have a champion for the following Hawaiian species that are eligible for the National Big Tree Program.  Therefore, any tree nominated from the following list will likely be crowned a champion.

Big Tree

The 10 current Hawai‘i champions are listed below. To replace a current champion, the challenger tree must have more total points.  Total Points = Trunk Circumference (inches) + Height (feet) + ¼ Average Crown Spread (feet).

  • Niu (Cocos nucifera) in Hawea Heiau Complex and Keawawa Wetland, O‘ahu
    (Circumference: 13.5) (Height: 112) (Crown Spread: 16.42)
  • Wiliwili (Erythrina sandwicensis) in Waikoloa Dry Forest, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 186.96) (Height: 40) (Crown Spread: 43.50)
  • Olopua (Nestegis sandwicensis) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island  (Circumference: 204.52) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 42.58)
  • Pāpalakēpau (Pisonia brunoniana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 52.46) (Height: 28) (Crown Spread: 15.25)
  • Māmane (Sophora chrysophylla) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 165) (Height: 24) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Kōlea lau nui (Myrsine lessertiana) in Pu‘u wa‘awa‘a Forest Reserve, Hawai‘i Island (Circumference: 85.14) (Height: 32) (Crown Spread: 25.5)
  • Koa (Acacia koa) in Kona Hema Preserve, South Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 343) (Height: 115) (Crown Spread: 93)
  • Hau (Hibiscus tiliaceus) in Hulihe‘e Palace, Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 110) (Height: 20) (Crown Spread: 25)
  • A‘ali‘i (Dodonaea viscosa) in Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 23) (Height: 17) (Crown Spread: 16)
  • Mānele (Sophora chrysophylla) in Volcanoes National Park, Hawai‘i Island
    (Circumference: 30) (Height: 73) (Crown Spread: 57)

To nominate a tree, contact Hawai‘i Big Tree coordinator Kylee Ah Choy at (808) 587-0164 and provide the tree height, trunk circumference, and average crown spread.  Also, please know your tree’s specific location (GPS coordinates are appreciated).

Big Tree Madness 1 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

For more on the Hawaii Big Tree Program: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/info/big-tree/
For more on the National Big Tree Program: www.americanforests.org/bigtrees/bigtrees-search/

U.S. Air Force Pilot to Head Hawaii DOE Facilities and Support Services Branch

The Hawaii State Board of Education today confirmed U.S. Air Force executive and fighter pilot, Dann S. Carlson, to head the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of School Facilities and Support Services. As an assistant superintendent, Carlson will bring more than 25 years of diverse active duty leadership experience to the DOE.

Dann Carlson

Dann S. Carlson

“While this job will be full of incredible challenges, it is obvious that the DOE is making measurable improvements in educating our next generation,” stated Carlson. “I’ve always had a desire to directly influence our nation’s future leaders through education. This position within the DOE allows me the opportunity to make an impact in a way that I never could have imagined. It is truly an honor.”

Carlson has a record of success in leading visionary work through organizational change. He will be leaving his position at the Pentagon as the special assistant to the under secretary of international affairs and will start with the DOE on December 1.

From 2011 to 2013, Carlson was the deputy joint base commander at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. He led more than 900 Air Force personnel in six squadrons: civil engineering, security forces, contracting, communications, logistics and force support. He also led operations for more than 1,100 Navy personnel and civilians providing base and operating support on an installation that serviced over 80,000 personnel, spanned 35,000 acres, with an annual budget of over $500 million and a plant replacement value of over $18 billion. During his tenure he spearheaded a complete organizational change to a Navy led Joint Base while still garnering the top rank of 77 Navy installations.

“In addition to his responsibilities of running the day to day operations of a large military base, Dann was actively involved with education,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are excited to welcome him to our team.”

Carlson was a board member for the Joint Venture Education Forum, a member of the Interstate Compact for Military Children, served on the Blue Ribbon Schools Commission and was very active at Radford High School where his three children attended, one of whom graduated as valedictorian.

Aside from his various leadership roles in the military, Carlson also served as mission commander and fighter pilot. He was an advance pilot and narrator for the USAF Thunderbirds at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services exercises technical staff oversight of business, construction and maintenance of facilities, food services, transportation, and safety and security support for the public school system. It is charged with developing and administering administrative rules and regulations, publishing operational guidelines and providing related in-service training, monitoring and technical assistance to schools to ensure that the support is being provided in accordance with laws, policies and accepted principles of management.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Works with CDC to Ensure Hawaiʻi Can Screen for Ebola In-State

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard yesterday announced a collaboration resulting in Hawaiʻi having the ability to quickly and effectively test for Ebola in-state.  Previously, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) would need to send patient samples to mainland laboratories to test for the deadly Ebola virus.

A few weeks ago, the congresswoman met with Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Toby Merlin, Director of the Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Bill Gallo, Associate Director for Insular Area Support at the CDC, to discuss the global challenges related to the Ebola virus, and the necessity for a properly equipped Hawaiʻi testing facility. They resolved to supply the Hawaiʻi Department of Health with resources to test for Ebola, supporting State Department of Health and medical personnel with a quicker testing turnaround time.

Today, the DOH State Laboratories Division received and validated the U.S. Department of Defense-developed, CDC-deployed real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test for 2014 outbreak-associated Ebola Zaire Virus.

“The safety and well-being of Hawaiʻi residents is my highest priority, and it’s important that our state be equipped with the resources needed to quickly and effectively test those who may be suspected Ebola patients,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  “Ensuring our medical professionals are given the tools they need to protect themselves, and to serve the public at large, is of the greatest importance, and I’m glad to see that we were able to bring this testing capability to our islands.”

Hawaii House Leadership and Committee Assignments Announced

House Speaker Joseph M. Souki today announced the appointments of the House of Representatives Majority leadership lineup for the 28th Legislature which convenes on January 21, 2015.

capital

“The team that we have formed represents the kind of talents and abilities that will best serve our residents and will address the issues facing our state,” said Speaker Souki. “We look forward to engaging in meaningful discussions with Governor-elect David Ige and his administration to continue to identify ideas and solutions to help Hawaii move forward.”

Members of the House Leadership are as follows:

  • Speaker of the House              Joseph M. Souki
  • Vice Speaker                           John M. Mizuno
  • Majority Leader                      Scott K. Saiki
  • Majority Floor Leader             Cindy Evans
  • Majority Whip                         Ken Ito
  • Asst. Majority Leader             Chris Lee
  • Asst. Majority Leader             Roy M. Takumi
  • Speaker Emeritus                    Calvin K.Y. Say

2015 House Committee Chairpersons:

  • Agriculture (AGR)

Clift Tsuji, Chair

Richard H.K. Onishi, Vice Chair

  • Economic Development & Business (EDB)

Derek S.K. Kawakami, Chair

Sam Kong, Vice Chair

  • Veterans, Military & International Affairs (VMI)

Romy M. Cachola, Chair

Ken Ito, Vice Chair

  • Tourism & Culture and the Arts (TCA)

Tom Brower, Chair

Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

 

  • Labor & Public Employment (LAB)

Mark M. Nakashima, Chair

Jarrett Keohokalole, Vice Chair

 

  • Public Safety (PBS)

Gregg Takayama, Chair

Kyle T. Yamashita, Vice Chair

 

  • Transportation, (TRN)

Henry J.C. Aquino, Chair

Matthew LoPresti, Vice Chair

 

  • Health (HLT)

Della Au Belatti, Chair

Dee Morikawa, Vice Chair

 

  • Housing (HSG)

Mark J. Hashem, Chair

Richard Creagan, Vice Chair

 

  • Human Services (HUS)

Mele Carroll, Chair

Bertrand Kobayashi, Vice Chair

 

  • Energy & Environmental Protection (EEP)

Chris Lee, Chair

Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

 

  • Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)

Kaniela Ing, Chair

Nicole E. Lowen, Vice Chair

 

  • Water & Land (WAL)

Ryan I. Yamane, Chair

Ty J.K. Cullen, Vice Chair

 

  • Education (EDN)

Roy M. Takumi, Chair

Takashi Ohno, Vice Chair

 

  • Higher Education, (HED)

Isaac W. Choy, Chair

Linda Ichiyama, Vice Chair

 

  • Finance (FIN)

Sylvia Luke, Chair

Scott Y. Nishimoto, Vice Chair

 

  • Legislative Management (LMG)

Scott Y. Nishimoto, Chair

John M. Mizuno, Vice Chair

 

  • Consumer Protection & Commerce (CPC)

Angus L.K. McKelvey, Chair

Justin H. Woodson, Vice Chair

 

  • Judiciary (JUD)

Karl Rhoads, Chair

Joy San Buenaventura, Vice Chair

Commentary – The Department of Transportation Needs Strong Leadership and Fresh Perspective

I’m a concerned citizen, who closely follows county and state highway projects on the Big Island. I believe its important to monitor these new projects, especially since the State and county are using taxpayer dollars to build these new highways. This is why I’ve spent so much of my free time being a community transportation advocate.

The centralized Oahu Hawaii Department of Transportation leadership, along with the Federal Highways Administration, has treated people like myself as enemies of the state. I’ve had to jump through hoops to get any updates through alternative means over the past four years as a result. These departments really need to embrace the public’s
participation and be more transparent.

Soon-to-be Governor David Ige promised to conduct his administration in a more transparent fashion. However, this is only part of the solution to the issues facing the HDOT. Governor Abercrombie’s HDOT appointees had no leadership and public relation skills. This has to change under Governor Ige’s watch. The HDOT needs strong leadership to push several stalled projects, such as the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening phase 2 and the final east side Daniel K. Inouye Highway phase, forward.

I hope Governor Ige fulfills his campaign promises, as Hawaii can’t afford four more years of spinning its wheels.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Visitors Not Allowed to Use Chain of Craters Road – Puna Residents to Receive Window Decals

Significant progress has been made on the Chain of Craters Kalapana Road since work began in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on October 24. Today the contractors, working from each end, met in the middle.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

Photos courtesy of the National Park Service.

This completes the rough grade of the road.
ripping 2Work will now begin on crushing excavated material for the road bed. The finished road will be a gravel surfaced 22-foot-wide two-lane road. The road is scheduled to be completed in the next 30-45 days, weather and construction conditions permitting.

Chain of Craters CrewLower Puna residents will be able to access the route after the lava has crossed Highway 130 and Railroad Avenue and the National Park Service has determined that the road is safe for vehicles. The emergency access route will not be open to the public or park visitors.  Residents will receive a free window decal for access through the park.

11/6/14 UPDATE: Volcanoes National Park Clarification on Chain of Craters Emergency Access Route

 

Governor Abercrombie Appoints 5 Members to Boards and Commissions

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the nominations of Denise Antolini to the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM), as well as Denise Albano, Lloyd Haraguchi, Margarita Hopkins and Yukio Kitagawa to the Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC), effective immediately. All are interim appointments subject to state Senate approval.

Antolini was appointed to an at-large seat on the seven-member CWRM. Haraguchi and Kitagawa were nominated to fill at-large seats on the 11-member ADC Board of Directors, while Alabano and Hopkins were appointed to the City and County of Honolulu and Hawaii County seats, respectively.

“Each appointee is well respected in their fields,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable in moving these boards and commissions forward.”

Denise Antolini has served as a faculty member at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa since 1996 and is currently associate dean for academic affairs.

Denise Antolini

Denise Antolini

During her tenure, she has been recognized as the school’s Outstanding Professor of the Year in 2004-2005, awarded the UH Board of Regent Medal of Excellence in Teaching, and while Director of the Environmental Law Program, received the American Bar Association, Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy in 2006. Antolini has served as the principal investigator on several Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) projects and law fellowships. A resident of Pupukea, she has long been active in several North Shore community organizations and efforts, including to establish the mauka and makai conservation easements preserving more than 1,000 acres of land owned by Turtle Bay Resort.

A leader in Hawaii’s efforts to improve the local food system, Denise Albano is the president of Feed the Hunger Foundation, a non-profit that she co-founded to eliminate poverty and hunger internationally and in Hawaii by using microfinance as a platform for food security and economic development.

Denise Albano

Denise Albano

Albano previously served as campaign manager for The Nature Conservancy Hawaii and executive director for Youth UpRising in Oakland and YMCA’s Richmond District in San Francisco, where she served on several boards, including the Mayor’s Office Task Force on Ending the Sexual Exploitation of Youth and Edgewood Center for Families, Youth and Children.

With more than 25 years of land use planning, zoning, development and leasing experience in both the public and private sectors, Lloyd Haraguchi has successfully managed projects from the point of land negotiation and acquisition, to gathering community input, planning, permitting and development. He is the former executive director of the Public Land Development Corporation and served as senior asset manager for Hawaii Land Management, James Campbell Company, LLC from 2003 to 2012. Haraguchi currently serves as a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, an advisory board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii, Hale Pono Unit and an advisory member of the Malama Learning Center at Kapolei High School.

Retired as an economic development specialist at the County of Hawaii’s Department of Research and Development, Margarita Hopkins was responsible for preparation and update of the county’s agricultural development plan.

Margarita Hopkins

Margarita Hopkins

Through her position, she established a county-based agriculture program in cooperation with Big Island Resource Conservation & Development Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. Hopkins previously served as Hawaii County’s director of research and development and a lecturer at UH Hilo College of Business and Economics. She is currently a member of the Big Island Resource Conservation & Development Council and Hawaii Forest Stewardship Advisory Committee.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Yukio Kitagawa is currently a member of the serves on the Hawaii Agriculture Resource Center Board of Directors and the City & County of Honolulu Agriculture Development Task Force.  He was previously a member of the ADC Board of Directors from 1999 to 2002 and the City & County of Honolulu Planning Commission from 1981 to 1986. Kitagawa was the Board of Agriculture chairperson from 1988 to 1994 and assistant director of cooperative extension service at UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) from 1981 to 1988. Kitagawa is a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.

Commission on Water Resource Management

The Commission on Water Resource Management administers the State Water Code, which was created by the 1987 Hawaii State Legislature. The commission’s general mission is to protect and enhance the water resources of the State of Hawaii through wise and responsible management.

Board of Directors of the Agribusiness Development Corporation

The Agribusiness Development Corporation was established in 1994 to facilitate and provide direction for the transition of Hawaii’s agriculture industry from a dominance of sugar and pineapple to one composed of a diversity of different crops. The mission of the ADC is to acquire, and manage in partnership with farmers, ranchers, and aquaculture groups, selected high-value lands, water systems, and infrastructure for commercial agricultural use and to direct research into areas that will lead to the development of new crops, markets, and lower production costs.

The Office of the Governor oversees more than 180 boards and commissions established by the state constitution, statutes or executive orders.

Contingency Plans Announced for Pahoa Schools in Case of Highway 130 Closure

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DOE) continues to work on contingency plans for public schools, students and staff in preparation for lava to eventually cross Pahoa’s Highway 130. The lava flow stalled Sunday on its approach toward Pahoa town. However, volcanic activity is ongoing.

Pahoa High and Intermediate
“We are doing our best to keep a sense of normalcy in our schools and we stand ready to adjust our operations as needed,” stated Mary Correa, complex area superintendent for Ka‘u, Kea‘au, Pahoa.

Given the information from the subject-area experts, the DOE is committed to doing what is necessary to allow public school teachers and students to continue teaching and learning. This includes preparing for the potential loss of an elementary school. The DOE is building an alternate site for elementary students in the Kea‘au High lower parking lot that could hold a number of classrooms. The site would accommodate at least 17 classrooms and up to 500 students and staff. The initial estimated cost to the DOE is $9 million.

“We believe that setting up an alternate site is necessary in order to ensure that our teachers and students have everything ready should we lose a school,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We continue to tackle a number of scenarios and we appreciate the flexibility of our staff, the cooperation of our families, and the collaboration with Hawai‘i County agencies in our preparation efforts.”

Based on the expectation that access to Keonepoko Elementary, Pahoa High & Intermediate, and Pahoa Elementary will be compromised, plans are being made for students who reside north of the flow to be rerouted to the Kea‘au complex when the flow crosses Highway 130. Students who reside south of the flow will remain in their homeschools if those facilities are not negatively impacted.

“When the lava crosses the highway, we want to make sure everything is in place in order to provide continued school services,” said Correa.

Pahoa complex currently has an estimated 1,800 students and roughly 300 employees.

Plans have been shared with parents at all three schools via letters and school meetings. Besides student planning, the DOE is also initiating plans that would guide affected employees on necessary changes. Earlier this month the DOE asked parents and staff who may have changed their residence to immediately update their contact information with school administrators.

Commentary – Growing Weary of the National Park Service

I’m growing weary of the National Park Service’s repeated attempts to stop development in North Kona. They’ve held up three different projects that I’m aware of over the past 14 years. The NPS has intervened in the Kaloko Makai, Kaloko Industrial Park expansion (phases III and IV) and the second phase of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening.

The latter project was slated to start in 2011, but the National Park Service intervened and requested a Section 106 consultation. This opened the door for other Native Hawaiian Organizations to intervene. The net result of these delays is approximately 100 construction workers are on the bench and a much-needed highway widening is stalled.

The National Park Service also intervened in TSA Corporation’s petition to reclassify 102 acres of land for the Kaloko Light Industrial Park expansion.They did a case study titled “Using State Laws And Regulations To Protect Parks From Adjacent evelopment”, which detailed their actions in this matter.

The TSA Corporation wasn’t able to start construction until mid 2007 due to the National Park’s intervention. However, the overall economy was sliding into the Great Recession at that time. These lots remain unsold to this day. The TSA Corporation never recouped their 43 million dollar investment as a result.

History is about to repeat itself on a more devastating scale if the Commission on Water Resource Management approves the NPS’s petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer  as a water management area. The Department of Water Supply won’t be issuing new water meters until they can determine how much existing usage there is. In addition, all new requests for water will have to go through a quasi-judicial contested case hearing. This isn’t a quick process, as various experts will be presenting  contradictory information during these proceedings.

The National Park Service actions will undoubtedly affect future economic growth in North Kona as a result. Their actions are not only wasting taxpayer money, but also puts the residents on North Kona in harms way.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Governor Signs Supplemental Emergency Proclamation in Preparation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a supplemental emergency proclamation to include the repair, restorations, rebuilding, or reestablishment of Chain of Craters Road, for use as an alternate emergency route should the June 27th lava flow cross Highway 130 near Pahoa and isolate communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

“Even though the lava flow appears to have slowed to a halt for the time being, the state and Hawaii County are prepared and moving forward together with contingency plans in the event the lava does progress farther,” Gov. Abercrombie said.

Today’s proclamation, supplemental to the emergency proclamation signed on Sept. 5, also extends the disaster emergency relief period through Dec. 1, 2014.

The original proclamation suspended certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activated the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Lava Flow Estimated to Cross Highway 130 in Two Weeks

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Land and Natural Resources announce the immediate closure of Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, until further notice, due to the hazards associated with the June 27 lava flow. Wao Kele o Puna is owned by OHA and managed by DLNR.

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana, OHA (Chief Executive Officer) said, “It is prudent at this time to close Wao Kele o Puna due to lava activity and subsequent unsafe conditions.

William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson said, “We join with Hawaii Civil Defense and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to warn the public of extreme danger from lava flowing through cracks in Wao Kele O Puna, and Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve. Both areas are off-limits to all persons. We will prosecute anyone entering these areas for any purpose, including unauthorized lava sightseeing tours. Hikers have been lost or injured in these areas, and personnel called in to rescue them have also been put in danger.”

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will be assisting Hawaii County to build the alternate roads in Puna.

Lava is estimated to cross Highway 130 in approximately two weeks if it stays on its current path.

DOFAW will provide a D8 bulldozer and equipment operator to Nanawale/Railroad Ave. tomorrow and expect work will take several weeks. Portions of the old railroad right-of-way run through state forest and unencumbered lands. Railroad Ave. bisects Nanawale state Forest Reserve

President Obama Issues Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii and Maui Counties

Today, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i activating the release of federal funds to help communities recover from Tropical Storm Iselle that occurred from August 7-9, 2014.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“This is great news for the thousands of people in Puna who were affected by Iselle,” Senator Schatz said.  “This federal assistance is critical to supporting our communities’ ongoing recovery. I thank President Obama for recognizing the critical needs of the many families still rebuilding in Puna.”

“I thank President Obama for issuing a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i,” said Senator Hirono. “Families and the community continue to rebuild after Tropical Storm Iselle hit over a month ago and much of the damage to our farms and homes will take many years to rebuild.  Similar to how our communities came together during the disaster, we’ll continue to come together during recovery. I look forward to the ongoing work with my colleagues in our joint effort to help ensure people get the resources they need to rebuild.”

All areas in the State of Hawai‘i are eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Albizia Tree Presentation at UH Hilo

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Faculty Congress and the College of Continuing Education and Community Service (CCECS) invite the public to a free presentation on the invasive Albizia trees. The presentation will be held on Wednesday, September 17, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the University Classroom Building (UCB) Room 100.

Workers clear Albizia trees from a road following Hurricane Iselle.

Workers clear Albizia trees from a road following Hurricane Iselle.

“The fast-growing Albizia trees have had a serious ecological impact on native forests,” said Springer Kaye, Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) Manager. “They also pose a real and immediate threat to the public’s safety and welfare as we saw in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle.”

Kaye and Dr. Flint Hughes, research ecologist, of the USDA Forest Service Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry, will discuss community-based efforts involving State and local agencies, lawmakers, Hawai’i Electric Light Company, and other stakeholders to remove hazardous trees, and deploy field staff and volunteers to manage non-hazardous trees. Other topics of discussion include lessons learned and future steps to achieve long-term hazard mitigation.

Parking on the UH Hilo campus is free after 4 p.m. A map of the campus can be found online at http://hilo.hawaii.edu/uhh/maps.php.

For more information, call 974-7664 or email ccecs@hawaii.edu. For disability accommodations, call (808) 974-7664 (V) or (808) 932-7002 (TTY).

Civil Defense Update on Eruption and Lava Flow

This is a civil defense message.

Civildefense

This is an Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Wednesday September 10th at 8:15 AM.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow continues and is moving in a north/northeast direction.  There is no wildfire threat at this time.  Weather and fire conditions are being monitored closely.  Due to a light inversion this morning smoke conditions in the area were moderate.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

The surface flow has advanced approximately 250 yards since yesterday.  The surface flow is moving slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents.  The surface flow is located approximately .6 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in a north/northeast direction and parallel to the forest reserve boundary.

Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities.  No evacuation is required at this time.  Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided.

Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.

The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas.  Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.

State Advises Residents Downwind of Lava Flow to Take Precautions Against Smoke

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is advising Hawaii Island residents living near the lava flow in Puna that began on June 27 to plan ahead for potential smoke exposure from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide.

Smoke seen in the background from Highway 130

Smoke seen in the background from Highway 130

The smoke effect on nearby communities will vary largely depending on unpredictable wind and weather conditions.

Smoke contains a mixture of gases and fine particles that may trigger adverse respiratory conditions. Additionally, encroaching lava may contain low levels of sulfur dioxide, an irritant gas emitted by the Kilauea Volcano.

DOH recommends that residents in smoke affected areas avoid outdoor activities or physical exertion. People with respiratory illness or heart disease, older adults and children are urged to avoid smoke exposure. Smoke may worsen symptoms for individuals who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Individuals that have these conditions should keep their medication refilled and use daily (controller) medication as prescribed. Anyone who feels they may need medication or medical attention should contact their physician.

Lava flow approaches Kaohe Homestead.

Lava flow approaches Kaohe Homestead.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the lava flow, residents and visitors are advised to listen to Hawaii County Civil Defense updates and advisories.

Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force Announces Updated Report on Policies and Procdures

UDATE: The meeting will not be open for public testimony.

The Hawaii Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has announced the release of a newly updated report on the policies and procedures for access, distribution, security, and other relevant issues related to the medical use of marijuana in Hawaii. The report was produced by the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and updates findings released in an earlier report first published in August 2009.

Medical Marijuana

In 2000, the Hawaii State Legislature passed a law enabling the use of medical marijuana by qualified individuals. However, the law did not provide these individuals with a legal method of obtaining marijuana—making it illegal for patients and caregivers to get medical marijuana for legitimate use.

This year the Legislature passed HCR48, establishing under the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Public Policy Center, the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force to develop recommendations to establish a regulated statewide dispensary system for medical marijuana.

The updated LRB report highlights glaring uncertainties within Hawaii’s medical marijuana program in regards to the access and transportation of medical marijuana. The program currently only allows qualifying patients to use medical marijuana, but does not provide them with any method to obtain it other than for them to grow a limited amount on their own. However, the sale of marijuana—including seeds for cultivation—remains illegal under state law.  As a result qualifying patients who suffer from cancer or other debilitating diseases are unable to legally acquire medical marijuana to find relief and improve the quality of their lives.

Additionally, it is uncertain whether or to what extent a qualifying patient or caregiver may transport medical marijuana anywhere outside the home on the same island, or island to island, without violating state drug enforcement laws.

“It has been over a decade since Hawaii took the historic step of legalizing medical marijuana to better the lives our residents. But as we have learned throughout the years and once again validated by the report, issues still exist with the program that need to be addressed,” said House Health Chair Della Au Belatti. “The task force is working towards improving our medical cannabis system with the goal of facilitating access for patients through a legal dispensary system or other means.”

The Dispensary System Task Force will submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation to the 2015 Legislature.

On Tuesday, September 9, from 9:00 – 11:00 am at the Hawaii State Capitol, Room 325, the Dispensary Task Force will be briefed by the Legislative Reference Bureau on its 2014 report.

Public hearings on Hawaii Island and Oahu have been scheduled by the Task Force to obtain public testimony on issues and concerns regarding dispensaries in Hawaii and any input on the updated Legislative Reference Bureau report.  These public hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Hawaii Island (Hilo): Wednesday, September 10th at 5:00 pm. Aupuni Center.
  • Oahu: Wednesday, September 24th at 5:00 pm. Hawaii State Capitol Auditorium.

The updated report and more information on the Dispensary Task Force is available online at http://www.publicpolicycenter.hawaii.edu/projects-programs/hcr48.html

New Lava Flow Map Shows Pahoa Town in Direct Path of Lava

Small-scale map showing the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone as of September 4, 2014.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Lava on the surface at 1 PM, outlined in red, was 13.3 km (8.3 miles) from the vent and 1.2 km (0.7 miles) from the east boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. The front of the flow was spilling into another crack, which was steaming.

The blue lines show potential flow paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM). All older lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray; the yellow line marks the lava tube.

Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation in Anticipation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed an emergency proclamation in preparation for the June 27 lava flow crossing Highway 130 near Pahoa, potentially isolating communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

abercrombieheaderThe proclamation suspends certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activates the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

“State agencies are working with the County of Hawaii to provide alternative access to lower Puna if lava crosses the main highway,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “This proclamation will ensure that isolated communities receive a continuation of services.

“Health officials are also advising all residents living near the lava flow to plan ahead for potential smoke from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide. Conditions for nearby communities may vary widely due to the unpredictability of wind and weather.”

The disaster emergency relief period specified in the proclamation begins today and continues through Oct. 15, 2014.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Senator Schatz Announces USDA Designation of Hawaii County as Natural Disaster Area

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Hawai‘i County as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by wind, rain, and flooding from Tropical Storm Iselle. After a review of the Hawai‘i County Loss Assessment Reports, the USDA determined that there were sufficient agricultural production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“Many farmers in Puna are still recovering after suffering devastating crop loss due to Tropical Storm Iselle and they need our help,” Senator Schatz said. “I thank USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack for reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports and for issuing a Secretarial natural disaster designation for Hawai‘i County. Support from the USDA will help ensure that our farmers in Hawai‘i County will receive the assistance they need.”

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator.  So far, FSA has received over 100 inquiries for assistance from producers in Hawai‘i County.

Lava Flow Emerges From Crack – Continues Advancing East

June 27th lava flow front emerges again from ground crack, continues advancing eastward

Click to enlarge

The June 27th lava flow remains active, with lava at the flow front issuing from a ground crack and advancing through thick forest, creating dense plumes of smoke. The farthest lava this afternoon was 13.2 km (8.2 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve. This forest reserve boundary is at the western boundary of Kaohe Homesteads subdivision, a portion of which is visible at the bottom of the photograph.

This view looks east at the far end of the June 27th lava flow. In the center of the photograph is an isolated pad of lava which came out of ground crack last week. Further movement of lava within ground cracks has enabled the flow front to advance farther east, with lava issuing from a ground crack in the upper left portion of the photograph, where plumes of smoke mark the location of lava burning forest. Click to enlarge

A closer view of the flow front, looking west. It is difficult to see the active lava surface through the thick smoke. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen in the upper left portion of the photograph, partly obscured by smoke.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

One small portion of the flow front was quite vigorous, with an open stream of lava moving through the forest.

Click to view movie

This Quicktime movie shows activity at the front of the June 27th lava flow. The flow front continues to advance eastward, with lava issuing out of a ground crack and spreading through dense forest, creating thick plumes of smoke. The farthest lava this afternoon was 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve.