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Hawaii Governor Signs Heat Abatement Bill to Expedite Cooling Public School Classrooms

Gov. David Ige signed HB 957 (Act 57) – authorizing the Department of Education to borrow money, interest-free, from the Hawai‘i Green Infrastructure Loan Program for heat abatement measures in Hawai‘i’s public school classrooms.

This will expedite the cooling of classrooms across the state while decreasing energy usage and electricity costs.

“I ordered the cooling of 1,000 public school classrooms about a year and a half ago. The state and the DOE have worked very hard to achieve this goal. Although the process hasn’t always been easy and it has taken more time than we would have liked, I am happy to say that we expect to have 1,000 classrooms cooled off by the end of August,” said Gov. David Ige.

The DOE is expecting significant decreases in energy use and electricity costs. The use of LED indoor lighting in public school classrooms is expected to result in a $4 million drop in energy costs annually. Such reductions in energy consumption and the lowering of the kilowatt load may enable the installation of AC units in classrooms without expensive and time consuming electrical upgrades.

The governor’s Cool the Schools initiative and the DOE’s Heat Abatement program have resulted in:

  • The installation of 456 classroom air conditioning units
  • The installation of 201 photovoltaic AC units
  • The distribution of 402 portable AC units to the hottest classrooms across the state
  • Ordering of 1,062 AC units

In addition, 461 portable classrooms have been covered with heat reflective material; trees have been planted to shade buildings and minimize heat; awnings have been installed on at least four buildings; ceiling fans have been installed in 139 classrooms; and large diameter fans are being installed in cafeteria dining rooms.

“A big mahalo to our state legislators for their support of our efforts to cool the schools. Thank you also to the DOE for its hard work and for helping us to achieve our goal of creating a learning environment in which our students and teachers can thrive,” Ige said.

Informational Public Meetings for Hawaii County’s FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is at the end of a multi-year effort to update and modernize the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Hawai‘i County.  The FIRM has been finalized and will become effective on September 29, 2017.  The opportunities to appeal the maps were over last year.  The FIRM will help community officials better identify known flood risks and will be used for flood insurance, land use, development, and regulatory purposes.  Use of the FIRM is required for the County’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes the County eligible for federal disaster aid in the event of a federally declared natural disaster.

Click to access the Flood Assessment Tool

The main purpose of these informational public meetings is:

To inform property owners, residents, and interested parties about the impacts the final Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) will have on flood insurance.  It will help them make an informed decision about flood insurance options and flood protection measures.  The details on the two informational public meetings are shown below:

  • Hilo – Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Aupuni Center Conference Room, 101 Pauahi St., Suite 1, Hilo, HI  96720, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Kona – Thursday, July 13, 2017, West Hawaii Civic Center, Bldg. G, 75-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Kailua Kona, HI  96740, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Doors open at 5:00 p.m., formal presentation starts at 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Personnel from FEMA, State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and Hawai‘i County will be available to answer questions, concerns, and provide information on flood insurance and property specific flood zone determinations.

The final FIRMs are currently available for viewing at the Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works Engineering offices at either 101 Pauahi St., Suite 7 in Hilo (808 961-8327) or 74-5044 Ane Keohokālole Hwy., Building D, 1st  floor of the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kona (808 323-4850). They are also available for online viewing on the State of Hawai‘i’s Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT) at http://gis.hawaiinfip.org/fhat.  To learn how to view the preliminary maps using the FHAT, click on the tutorial link provided on the Hawai‘i NFIP Website http://dlnreng.hawaii.gov/nfip/.

Be advised that flood insurance rates will be based on the new flood data.  If a property is mapped into a high-risk area (an SFHA labeled with letters starting with “A” or “V”) on the new FIRM and the owner has a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender, flood insurance will be required when the FIRM becomes effective.  Property owners who obtain flood insurance before the FIRM becomes effective may be able to benefit from the NFIP’s “grandfathering” insurance rating process and pay a lower premium.

Everyone is at some risk from flooding, even those behind levees or in low or medium-risk areas. Therefore, FEMA encourages everyone to purchase flood insurance.  Property owners should contact their insurance agent or visit www.FloodSmart.gov for more information.

If you require special accommodations or auxiliary aid/ and or services to participate in this meeting, (i.e. Sign language interpreter, large print,) please call (808) 961-8321 by July 5, 2017.

For more information call Barett Otani, Department of Public Works Information and Education Specialist at (808) 961-8787.

Governor Ige to Sign New Bills Into Law Tomorrow

Hawaii Governor David Ige is scheduled to sign the following bills into law tomorrow, Thursday, June 22nd at a bill signing ceremony at the state capital building.

HB 511, HB 852: Ethics – Increases administrative fines for ethics violations, lobbying law and failure to file financial disclosure statements on time.

SB 611: Fire Sprinklers – Extends prohibition on county requirements for automatic sprinklers or sprinkler systems.

HB 1179: Rental Housing Projects – Expands the types of rental housing projects that can be exempt from general excise taxes.

SB 718: Community Courts – Establishes a community court outreach project in the City & County of Honolulu.

HB 845: Inmate Re-entry IDs – Requires the Dept. of Public Safety, various agencies, to issue civil ID cards to inmates and assist in obtaining inmates’ birth certificates, social security cards and other ID necessary for successful reentry into society.

HB 957: Heat Abatement – Authorizes the Dept. of Education to borrow moneys interest-free from the HI Green Infrastructure Loan Program for heat abatement measures at public schools.

HB 916: Loan Repayment for Health Care Professionals – Makes an appropriation for the health care provider loan repayment program administered through the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

HB 89, HB 90: Hospital and Nursing Sustainability – Continues the Hospital Sustainability and Nursing Facility Sustainability Programs for two years.

Schedule of signings:

  • 9:30 a.m.      Ethics — HB 508, HB 511, HB 852
  • 10:00 a.m.    Fire Sprinklers — SB 611
  • 10:30 a.m.    Rental Housing Projects — HB 1179
  • 11:00 a.m.    Community Courts — SB 718
  • 11:30 a.m.     Inmate Re-Entry IDs — HB 845
  • 2:30 p.m.      Heat Abatement — HB 957
  • 3:00 p.m.      Loan Repayment for Health Care Professionals — HB 916
  • 3:30 p.m.      Hospital & Nursing Sustainability — HB 89, HB 90

These signings will be streamed LIVE through the governor’s website.

HTA Offers Funding to Programs Supporting Hawaiian Culture, Hawaii’s Natural Resources and Community-Based Events in 2018

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) announced today that funding support will be provided to qualified applicants for programs in 2018 that perpetuate Hawaiian culture, preserve Hawaii’s natural resources and present community-based festivals and events.


Funding will be awarded through a request for proposals (RFPs) process for three HTA programs, Kukulu Ola, Aloha Aina and Community Enrichment, which are offered to help improve the quality of life for residents and enhance the visitor experience for tourists.

“How we celebrate the Hawaiian culture, protect our environment, and share our way of life in communities is key to Hawaii’s future and why we place such importance in supporting groups and individuals committed to these ideals,” said George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO. “These programs help guide how our communities embrace sustainability and uphold the qualities that make the Hawaiian Islands such a magnificent place to live and visit.”

The three programs that HTA has issued RFPs for and will provide funding support to qualified applicants statewide in 2018 are as follows.

  • Kukulu Ola (RFP 17-13): HTA is supporting programs that enhance, strengthen and help to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture by cultural practitioners, craftsmen, musicians and artists.
  • Aloha Aina (RFP 17-14): HTA is supporting programs that help preserve and enhance the quality of Hawaii’s treasured natural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations.
  • Community Enrichment (RFP 17-12): HTA is supporting community-oriented programs, festivals and special events promoting culture, education, health and wellness, nature, agriculture, sports, technology and “voluntourism” for the enjoyment of residents and visitors.

The deadline for applicants to submit proposals to HTA seeking funding support for their programs in any of the three categories is Friday, August 4, at 4:30 p.m.

Program applications are available at HTA’s website at www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/about-hta/rfps.

All inquiries should be directed to Ronald Rodriguez, HTA procurement officer, via email at contracting@gohta.net or by phone at (808) 973-9449.

RFP Information Sessions HTA is hosting public information sessions on all islands about the application and award process for the RFPs at the following locations. Interested applicants are encouraged to attend and ask questions about receiving funding support.

  • Oahu – Wednesday, July 5, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. , Hawaii Convention Center, Emalani Theatre, 1801 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu
  • Kauai – Thursday, July 6, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m., Lihue Civic Center, Piikoi Building, Meeting Rooms A & B, 4444 Rice Street, Lihue Friday, July 7, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
  • Kona – West Hawaii Civic Center, Building A, Council Chambers, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway, Kailua-KonaFriday, July 7, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.
  • Hilo – County of Hawaii Aging and Disability Resource Center, Training Room, 1055 Kinoole Street, Suite #101, HiloTuesday, July 11, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Building D
  • Molokai – Tuesday, July 11, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Building D600,  Maunaloa Highway, Kaunakakai
  • Maui – Monday, July 17, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Alexa Higashi Room, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului
  • Lanai – Monday, July 17, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., Lanai Cultural and Heritage Center, 730 Lanai Avenue, #126, Lanai City

Board Unanimously Approves Hawaii ESSA Plan for Submission

The Hawaii Department of Education Board of Education (BOE) unanimously approved the submission of the Hawaii Consolidated State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA Plan) to the U.S. Department of Education. The plan will be submitted following a 30-day opportunity for Governor David Ige to sign it.

“We appreciate the many meetings and valuable input that led up to today’s Board action,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “This decision is one step forward in greatly helping our administrators who are now tasked with implementing the plan in time for the 2017-18 school year, which starts as early as two weeks for some of our schools.”

The ESSA Plan serves as Hawaii’s application for federal funds, providing resources for our schools to support students in achieving equity and excellence. The plan takes advantage of flexibility by leading with the state’s aspirations, goals and plans as described in the Governor’s Blueprint for Public Education and the joint Strategic Plan.

In testimony submitted by Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani Complex Area administrators, praised the process of developing the plan stating, “Ongoing participation for input and feedback via surveys and face-to-face meetings were provided to learn more about the direction of our Department. We understand that the ESSA plan aligns with our State Strategic Plan and provides overarching guidance while leaving discretion to the schools to determine customized priorities and needs of our community.”

Since January 2016, the Hawaii State Department of Education sought input from educational communities to inform development of the ESSA Plan. Engagement included:

  • 230 meetings to share information and gather feedback with legislative leaders, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, school leaders, the Hawaii State Student Council, and more;
  • 35 presentations and 450 pieces of testimony considered by the BOE; and
  • 458 online survey submissions providing feedback as part of a public comment period.

In his letter of support for the ESSA Plan, Governor Ige noted, “The past year has been unprecedented in the engagement of our statewide community in the development of our education blueprint, strategic plan, and state plan for ESSA. My heartfelt thanks goes out to all teachers, administrators, and community members who submitted testimony and provided input into this plan.”

For more information about the ESSA Plan, click here. To view today’s BOE presentation, click here.

Hawaii Department of Health Approves Production Centers for Medical Marijuana Licensees on Kauai and Oahu

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today issued Notices to Proceed to Acquire and Cultivate Marijuana to Manoa Botanicals LLC for their second production center on Oahu and to Green Aloha Ltd. for their first production center on Kauai. The licensees have met all requirements to begin growing marijuana at their approved facilities.

Manoa Botanicals is the third dispensary licensee to complete and operate two medical marijuana production centers. Green Aloha Ltd. is the is the fifth dispensary licensee to receive approval to acquire and grow marijuana at their first production center.  In May, Aloha Green Holdings and Maui Grown Therapies received approvals for their second production centers on Oahu and Maui respectively. In February, Pono Life Sciences on Maui became the fourth licensee to operate a production center.

“The dispensary licensees have made excellent progress in developing their production sites in compliance with all state laws and regulations to provide a safe product and ensure patient and public health and safety,” said Keith Ridley, chief of the DOH Office of Health Care Assurance. “All of the licensees have worked hard to meet state standards to create a quality industry in Hawaii.”

Brian Goldstein, chief executive officer of Manoa Botanicals said, “We’ve put considerable research, time and money into building a growing facility with the most current technology available to ensure consistent high quality products for our patients. Our nursery plants are ready to go, and we can’t wait to see our first harvest this summer.”

Justin Britt, chief executive officer of Green Aloha said, “It took a lot of work to comply with the state laws and regulations to grow cannabis, but it is all worth it because the result is safer, higher quality medicine for Kauai’s patients.”

To receive a Notice to Proceed from DOH, dispensary production centers must comply with statutory and regulatory requirements that include building a secure, enclosed indoor facility; operating a computer software tracking system that interfaces with the state’s system and submits current inventory data of all marijuana seeds, plants and manufactured products in the production center; and authorization from the Narcotics Enforcement Division of the Hawaii State Department of Public Safety.

More information on the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Program is available at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuanadispensary/.

A total of eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses were issued in April 2016. Three dispensary licenses for the City and County of Honolulu were issued to Aloha Green Holdings, Inc.; Manoa Botanicals, LLC; and TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu. Two licenses for the County of Hawaii were issued to Hawaiian Ethos, LLC and Lau Ola, LLC. Two licenses for the County of Maui were issued to Maui Wellness Group, LLC and Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC. One license for the County of Kauai was issued to Green Aloha, Ltd.

Each dispensary licensee is allowed to operate two production centers and two retail sites for a total of 16 production centers and 16 retail dispensary locations statewide. Each production center may grow up to 3,000 marijuana plants.

Hawaii Argues to U.S. Supreme Court that Trump Travel Ban is Unnecessary and Unlawful

Today, Hawaii filed a supplemental brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, in which it argues that a new memo issued by President Trump on June 14, 2017 has rendered his controversial travel ban and refugee ban both unnecessary and unlawful.

Click to read

On May 25, 2017, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed an injunction against the travel ban in International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) v. Trump. On June 1, 2017, the Trump Administration asked the United States Supreme Court to stay the Fourth Circuit injunction issued in IRAP v. Trump, grant discretionary review (called certiorari) in IRAP v. Trump, and stay the injunction issued by Hawaii federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii v. Trump. On June 12, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Watson’s order on statutory grounds. The Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s injunction blocking the travel ban and the refugee ban. The only portions of the district court’s injunction that were not upheld concerned internal studies undertaken by the Government and whether the President, rather than his cabinet members, should be named directly. Neither change reduces the effectiveness of the injunction against the travel and refugee bans.

Following the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, the Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court for supplemental briefing to address the Ninth Circuit’s decision. The Trump Administration filed its supplemental brief on June 15, 2017, requesting both a stay of the injunction pending appeal and that the Supreme Court grant certiorari in Hawaii v. Trump, alongside IRAP v. Trump.

Two days after the Ninth Circuit’s decision, on June 14, President Trump had issued a memorandum instructing agencies to begin internal vetting reviews within hours of the Ninth Circuit’s decision taking effect, and to put the travel and refugee bans into effect whenever the remaining injunctions are lifted. Yesterday Judge Watson ordered the injunction to be revised consistent with the Ninth Circuit opinion.

In today’s filing, Hawaii argues in part that since the alleged rationales for the bans were to allow the Government to conduct these internal vetting reviews, the new memo from the President makes clear that the Order’s travel and refugee restrictions are no longer required to accomplish what the Government intended. “The President’s memorandum also empties the present petition for certiorari of any compelling justification. The Government does not explain why this Court’s review would be warranted once the supposed purpose of the Order – the completion of the vetting upgrade – has lapsed, as it almost surely will have by the time this case is heard in October,” Hawaii asserts.

Hawaii’s supplemental brief also states:

“Two Courts of Appeals are now united in enjoining Executive Order No. 13,780—a policy that flouts the limits of Executive power, denigrates Muslim-Americans, and threatens the Nation’s reputation as a place of refuge for immigrants and refugees alike. … Both courts saw that rationale for the sham that it was, one that can neither mask the Order’s denigration of Muslims nor justify ignoring the immigration laws’ finely reticulated limits.”

A copy of Hawaii’s supplemental brief in opposition is attached.

Supplemental Addendum. 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management to Host Telephone Town Hall on Hurricane Preparedness

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) will host a telephone town hall on Monday, June 26 at 4:00pm HST on hurricane and disaster preparedness. The congresswoman will be joined by Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi, Anna Foust of Maui Emergency Management Agency, Elton Ushio of Kauaʻi Emergency Management Agency, Talmadge Magno of Hawaiʻi Island Civil Defense Agency, and Melvin Kaku of Honolulu Department of Emergency Management to answer questions from the community, discuss the forecast for the upcoming hurricane season, and review new recommendations that Hawaiʻi residents prepare an “emergency kit” with a minimum of 14 days of food, water and other supplies. Hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30.

“We are so fortunate to live in Hawaiʻi, but we have some seasonal disasters that are unique to our islands, and it’s important to be prepared. With hurricane season kicking off this month and running through November, I’m hosting a telephone town hall meeting with emergency management leaders in each of our counties to talk about how Hawaiʻi families can prepare and stay safe,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

How to register for this event:

To receive a call reminding you to join this event on Monday June 26, 2017 at 4:00pm:

  • Text “TULSI” to 828282, OR
  • Go to vekeo.com/reptulsigabbard and enter your name, phone number and email. Once you submit your information, you will receive a confirmation email. Please note: you must click “Verify” in the confirmation email in order to complete your registration
  • To dial in to the call at the time of the event, call 888-476-4187 at 4:00pm HST on Monday June 26.

HURRICANE CHECKLIST:

Informational Meeting On Hawaii Coral Reef Bleaching

Senator Will Espero, in cooperation with the Friends of Hanauma Bay, is co-hosting an informational meeting on Wednesday, June 21 in conference room 229 from 10:30 a.m. to noon on the eroding health of Hawai‘i’s coral reefs due to pollution from personal health products such as sunscreen.

During the meeting, Dr. Craig Downs, Executive Director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory will present his latest scientific findings on sunscreen pollution and its damaging impact on Hawai‘i’s coral reefs, including the creation of what researchers call “coral reef zombies.”“The health of our coral reefs is important not only for the protection and preservation of our oceans, but also to our state’s economy and tourism industry,” said Sen. Espero. “Efforts were made to mitigate the toxic effect of pollution from oxybenzone on our coral reefs through a number of bills introduced this past legislative session. Through meetings like this, we’ll continue to work collaboratively with scientists and stakeholders to address the protection of our reefs for future generations.”

  • WHO:  Sen. Will Espero, Friends of Hanauma Bay, Dr. Craig Downs
  • WHAT:  Informational Meeting
  • WHERE:  Conference Room 229, Hawai‘i State Capitol
  • WHEN:  Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon

VIDEO: Battle Against Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Includes Top-Notch Technology

With 75,000 acres of Hawai‘i island ʻōhiʻa forest now showing symptoms of the fungal disease known as Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death, federal and state agencies and non-profit partners are using an array of high technology to detect its spread.

“The battle against the two types of Ceratocystis fungus that causes Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death has always been a hugely collaborative effort,” said Rob Hauff, State Protection Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW). “Now,” Hauff explained, “the collaboration between the agencies and organizations engaged in the fight against this devastating disease not only continues, but is expanding, particularly on the detection front.”  Early detection is considered critical in helping to identify Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death’s spread on the Big Island and to other islands and to provide data and scientific information to aide researchers working hard to find a way to stop it.

During a demonstration today, researchers showed off three of the high-tech survey/detection tools currently involved in mapping and on-site testing for the presence of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.

Dr. Carter Atkinson a Research Microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey based at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, developed what the team from the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BISC) fondly calls a “lab in a suitcase.”  Recently the BISC team collected ʻōhiʻa samples from towering trees in the Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve on the Big Island’s east coast. Prior to the development, earlier this year, of Atkinson’s portable testing laboratory, all samples were sent to the USDA ARS Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo.  Since the cause of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death was first discovered in 2014, Dr. Lisa Keith who runs the main testing lab, has been overwhelmed with samples.  Bill Buckley, the Forest Response Program Coordinator for BISC said, “The lab in a suitcase has been really nice.  We can collect our samples in the field, and nearby under a portable tent the testing equipment is set and ready to go.  Within a few hours we get preliminary results. In the remote location’s we often work in, this is really beneficial. If we get a positive result, we then can go immediately back out and do additional sampling to get a better sense of how widespread the infection is. This greatly speeds up management decisions.”  Positive samples are sent to Dr. Keith’s lab for further testing and verification.

On the same day BISC tested samples in the Laupāhoehoe Forest Reserve, another team of researchers prepares to launch an unmanned aerial system (UAS) off the side of Stainback Road, one of the epicenters of the infection. Dr. Ryan Perroy of the Department of Geography & Environmental Science at UH Hilo and his team are now spending about 25% of their time flying the UAS for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death mapping and detection.

Perroy said the “drone” has been in use in the battle against Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death for about a year and a half.  “It’s very good for monitoring changes in the forest on an individual tree basis, because the resolution of the imagery is so fine that you can see individual leaves and branches,” Perroy explained. That allows researchers not only to see changes over areas already infected by the fungus, but to detect suspected new cases. As valuable as the UAS imagery is, Perroy said it’s very difficult to fly over ʻōhiʻa forests every month and see the rapidity of tree decline. “It’s not the best day when we come back and we see more and more trees down since the last time we flew. Our efforts are one piece of the larger effort to better understand the disease and better protect our forests,” Perroy concluded.

Above, at 8,000 feet, the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) is in the process of remapping roughly 650,000 acres of ʻōhiʻa forest on Hawai‘i island. This is the second time this twin-engine aircraft with millions of dollars of highly sophisticated equipment on board has peered into the very structural makeup and chemistry of individual trees to measure forest health.  The first time was in January 2016. This month’s flights will provide additional 3D imaging and data to fuse with ground data and the UAS data to give scientists and resource managers a really clear picture of the scope of spread of Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.

Dr. Greg Asner leads the CAO effort. He explained, “Our 3D imaging system means we see the leaves in the forest canopy on individual trees.  We can determine tree heights, the tree’s structure and the chemical make-up.” Utilizing imaging spectrometers, mounted in the rear of the plane, along with laser-based technology, super high resolution GPS, and a high-end, military-grade intertial motion unit (IMU) Asner and his team are about two-thirds finished remapping the Big Island’s ʻōhiʻa forests, in this second round of flight missions.

He added, “Our work provides the whole island view and that interfaces with all the field work and with some of the high-resolution mapping that’s happening locally within some of the canopies.  We give the big picture, landscape scale view, but also with a lot of detail.”

All of the researchers and managers working to combat Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death agree that their collaborative efforts are about the only silver lining to what is a serious threat to Hawai‘i’s most important native tree. Ōhiʻa protect the state’s watersheds by providing a sponge-effect to allow rainwater to slowly seep into underground aquifers.  They also help prevent erosion and the spread of invasive species and they are very culturally significant and prized in lei making.

“I think it’s really encouraging in this daunting threat to our precious native ecosystem, to have a community of natural resource managers and scientists come together to find a solution,” said Philipp LaHaela Walter, State Survey and Resource Forester for DLNR/DOFAW. He added, “I think this experience of having dedicated partners, complete collaboration and the deployment of top-notch technology has greatly improved cross-agency communications and efficiency and we all hope eventually leads to a treatment for Rapid ‘Ōhiʻa Death.”

Top-Notch Technology in the Fight Against Rapid Ohia Death VNR 7-19-17 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Department of Health – Lead Tests Can Give False Results, Advises Parents About Re-Testing Their Children

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) recommends parents with children less than 6 years old who had a venous blood lead test drawn before May 17, 2017 consult with their health care provider to determine whether their child should be retested. This advisory does not apply if the child was tested with a finger or heel stick. Additionally, pregnant women and nursing mothers who had a venous blood lead test before May 17, 2017 should consult a health care provider about retesting.

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning about Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers used by some Hawaii laboratories. Magellan blood lead tests on blood drawn from a vein may provide falsely low results. The warning does not apply to capillary blood test results collected by finger stick or heel stick.When the warning was issued, DOH contacted local independent testing laboratories using Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare® analyzers. The DOH also contacted the chief medical officers of all health care facilities statewide. Working closely with laboratories throughout the state, and as more information became available, it was determined that a substantial number of children’s test results in Hawaii may have been affected. At this time, the exact number of inaccurate blood lead test results received within the state is not known.

“It’s very important to identify children who may have been exposed to lead” said DOH Director, Dr. Virginia Pressler. “The faulty test underestimates low blood lead levels and even low levels of lead exposure may cause adverse health effects such as learning and behavior problems in young children. If your child was tested for lead with blood drawn from a vein from 2014 to May 17, 2017, please contact your health care provider to discuss the need for retesting.”

For further questions on lead exposure contact the Hawaii Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Information on the national safety alert is available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/about/blood_lead_test_safety_alert.html

Hawaii Legislative Leaders Target Special Session on Rail for July or August

Senate President Ronald D. Kouchi (Kauai, Niihau) and House Speaker Scott K. Saiki (McCully, Kakaako, Kaheka, Downtown) sent a joint letter to the Executive Director of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) advising the FTA of the Legislature’s commitment to convene a special session in July or August.

Click to view full letter

Although no specific dates have been set for the special session and no rail funding mechanism has been agreed upon, Speaker Saiki and President Kouchi said that, “after working with members of our federal delegation, it was deemed necessary and prudent to assure the FTA that the Legislature recognizes and understands the requirements under the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) between the City and County of Honolulu and the FTA.”

Early Bird Registration for the 2017 Global Tourism Summit Now Available

Early-bird registration offering flexible discounted rates is now available for the 2017 Global Tourism Summit, being presented by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), Sept. 19-21.   Participants can register via the dedicated website, www.globaltourismsummithawaii.com, and choose from one of several options to attend the conference being held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu.


Sustainability is the theme of this year’s summit and how it is incorporated in the future of tourism will be a featured topic of the presentations. The significance of Hawaiian culture, global marketing, technology and innovation will also be highlighted in presentations and panel discussions, with the collective focus on improving tourism in Hawaii and abroad.

George D. Szigeti, HTA president and CEO, said, “The core objective of the Global Tourism Summit is the collaboration and sharing of knowledge to make tourism stronger and better for the Hawaiian Islands and the industry as a whole. Tourism has stakeholders in all walks of life and all around the world and we are encouraging anyone interested in seeing this global industry succeed to participate in the summit, share their insight, and be part of this greater effort for everyone’s future benefit.”

Early-bird registration is available through July 31 for the following discounted rates:

  • Individuals: Full Conference, Sept. 19-21: $325, a savings of $70
  • Groups of 8 or More: Full Conference, Sept. 19-21: $300 per person, a savings of $65 per person (Groups can mix and match different attendees during the conference)
  • Student and Faculty Members: Full Conference, Sept. 19-21: $150
  • Individuals, Partial Conference, Sept. 19-20: $275
  • Individuals, Partial Conference, Sept. 20-21: $265

“We want to be flexible and provide interested attendees, especially those from Hawaii, with options that allow them to participate in the Global Tourism Summit in a way that best meshes with their daily work responsibilities,” said Szigeti.

Information on sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities is also available online at the dedicated website. A complete listing of sessions, programs and speakers will be added in the coming weeks.

Formerly known as the Hawaii Tourism Conference, HTA changed the name to the Global Tourism Summit to more accurately reflect Hawaii’s emergence as a leader in international travel and tourism.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Votes to Accept Former Republican Representative Fukumoto Into Party

On Saturday June 17th, members of the O‘ahu County Committee (OCC) of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) voted unanimously to accept the application of Representative Beth Fukumoto to become a member of the DPH.

The vote comes as the final step in a process required by party bylaws for elected officials switching parties and after several meetings with Rep. Fukumoto, including one-on-one discussions with elected members of the party as well as State Chair Tim Vandeveer, the OCC Executive Committee, and DPH caucus members.

Dr. Rich Halverson, Chair of the O‘ahu County Committee stated “though talk of Rep. Fukumoto’s request to become a Democrat has been ongoing for months, we received her formal application less than one month ago. We were pleased to meet with Rep. Fukumoto and take this vote in a way that we felt was timely and inclusive for everyone involved.”

Of the vote, DPH State Party Chair Tim Vandeveer said “we have maintained from the beginning that we would ensure Rep. Fukumoto a fair process and that should things align and unfold accordingly, we in Democratic leadership would welcome her in. I applaud the O‘ahu County Committee for their work.”

“I firmly believed that our Party should hold Rep. Fukumoto to no stricter an ideological standard than anyone else with a ‘D’ behind their name that currently sits in the big square building” explained Vandeveer. “While I agree with the notion that we should seek to elect better Democrats and not just more Democrats, I also understand that we are a ‘big tent’ party that is welcoming of many different ideas and viewpoints. This is the balance that confronts us.”

Of the process, Rep. Fukumoto said “(Saturday)’s vote was the result of weeks of meetings and conversations with Democratic Party members about our mutual goals, passions, and how we can work together to make a better life for the people of Hawai‘i. I got involved in politics with the goal of making Hawai‘i more affordable for local families, and I’m looking forward to doing that work with the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i.”

Hawaii Department of Education Makes Progress with Energy Efficient Strategies for Cooling Schools

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) has been working to fast track heat-relief initiatives through its Heat Abatement Program. During the last three years, schools across the state were evaluated for various cooling options including air conditioning (AC), ceiling fans, nighttime heat flushing fans, solar light, trees, heat reflective paint, and more.

Phase II of the Heat Abatement program is already underway with an emphasis on implementing passive cooling projects. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The department has made every effort to find solutions to cooling our classrooms in ways that are not only cost-efficient but also energy efficient,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Our Heat Abatement program includes long-term plans for our schools as well as addressing the high-priority classrooms quickly. We want to thank the legislature for funding this effort to accomplish this goal.”

The Department has made significant upgrades to lower temperatures in many of the classrooms at Campbell High including an awning installation over O Building’s courtyard. Photo Credit: MK Think

In 2016, Governor David Ige signed Act 47, which appropriated $100 million to fund equipment and installation costs for AC and other cooling measures. Progress from the department’s Heat Abatement program in conjunction with the Governor’s Cool Classrooms initiative includes:

  • 456 classroom AC units have been installed;
  • 1,062 AC units have been ordered;
  • 1,062 units are out to bid;
  • 201 photovoltaic AC units installed; and
  • 402 portable AC units were distributed to the hottest classrooms statewide.

Phase II of the Heat Abatement program is already underway with an emphasis on implementing passive cooling projects. To date, the following projects have been completed:

  • 461 portable classrooms have been covered with heat reflective material;
  • Trees planted at numerous campuses;
  • 4 buildings have installed or are currently installing awnings;
  • 139 classrooms had ceiling fans installed; in addition, large diameter fans are being installed in cafeteria dining rooms.

“Despite a few setbacks, which included high bid prices due to Hawaii’s construction; the department has worked diligently to come up with solutions that have kept our heat abatement efforts moving forward. Our push for better prices has allowed us to cool more classrooms,” added Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson.

Duane Kashiwai, public works administrator, shares what HIDOE has been doing to fast track heat-relief initiatives through its Heat Abatement Program. Photo Credit: Department of Education

At James Campbell High School (JCHS), third on the heat abatement priority list, the Department has made significant upgrades to lower temperatures in many of the classrooms. The completed and ongoing improvements include:

  • Installation of new tinted windows;
  • Air conditioning;
  • Nighttime heat flushing fans;
  • Ceiling fans;
  • Progress in the awning installation over O Building’s courtyard;
  • Solar AC and battery units for the portable classrooms;
  • Upcoming fan installation in the cafeteria; and
  • Covered walkways project that will begin early next year.

JCHS is also undergoing other facility renovations and construction from a 30-classroom building currently in the design phase to restroom renovations in O and D buildings, and new portables and reroofing on I Building.

“We have seen a positive change in the campus culture because of these facility improvements,” shared Principal Jon Henry Lee. “The school community recognizes the investment the legislature and department have made towards enhancing the academic experience at our school, and we look forward to seeing the excitement of our students and staff when they return in August.”

For more information about HIDOE’s Heat Abatement program and continued updates about projects going on statewide, click here. A cost breakdown of the AC projects is available here.

Coast Guard Conducts Overflight, Prepares for Return of Hōkūleʻa to Oahu

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point conducted an overflight of the voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia and other vessels en route to Oahu from Molokai, Friday morning.

Crewmembers on an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, Oahu, conduct a fly over of the Hōkūleʻa, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hikianalia and other voyaging canoes, June 16, 2017. The Hōkūleʻa will return home to Oahu, June 17 after being gone for 36 months, sailing approximately 40,000 nautical miles around the world. (U.S. Coast Guard photos by Petty Officer 2nd Class Tara Molle/Released)

“We recognize the incredible outpouring of public interest and support surrounding the homecoming of the Hōkūleʻa,” said Capt. Michael Long, commander Coast Guard Sector Honolulu and Captain of the Port. “Along with DOCARE we want to ensure that this is a safe, enjoyable and memorable time with our primary focus being on the safety of all waterway users and responders while we honor the cultural significance of this event.”

Saturday residents and visitors to Oahu will welcome Hōkūleʻa home from their 3 year worldwide voyage. The canoes will sail from a mooring to Waikiki and then up the Ala Wai Canal to Magic Island. Hōkūleʻa and the Hikianalia are expected to moor at Magic Island by 9 a.m., with an official welcome ceremony to follow at 10 a.m.
The State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), the City and County of Honolulu Emergency Services Department Division of Ocean Safety, the Honolulu Fire Department, Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Coast Guard are teaming up to provide on-water safety and security for the homecoming.

  • For its transit to Waikiki, water safety assets will be enforcing a 500-yard safety perimeter around Hokule’a. Vessels and canoes may be allowed to operate within the 500-yard safety perimeter with the permission of the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, coordinated through the on-scene patrol commander, but will be required to remain a minimum of 100 feet from Hōkūleʻa. All crossing traffic will be prohibited on Hōkūleʻa’s final approach to the Ala Wai Canal.
  • The Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor boat ramp will be closed Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Only vessels returning to their berth in the Ala Wai boat harbor will be allowed up the Ala Wai channel adjacent to Magic Island. All motorized traffic will be asked to turn around and stay out of the canal as the canoes and Hōkūleʻa transit up the Ala Wai to their mooring. This is for safety in an area of limited space and restricted maneuverability.
  • Following the Hōkūleʻa’s mooring, all motor vessels wishing to transit the Ala Wai will require an escort coordinated through DOCARE.
  • Operators of all watercraft (motorized and non-motorized) are reminded to keep a sharp lookout for other traffic and waterway users. They are also reminded not to boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol and to comply with all state and federal regulations regarding life jackets and other safety equipment.

8 More Mumps Cases Reported on Oahu – Number of Cases Now at 104

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed eight (8) additional cases this week of Oahu residents with the mumps, pushing the total number of cases this year to 104.

Three new cases were confirmed on Tuesday, June 13, and involved two (2) adults and one (1) child. None of the cases required hospitalization and all three are recovering. An additional five (5) cases were confirmed today, involving one (1) adult and four (4) children, none of whom required hospitalization.

DOH expects the current mumps outbreak to continue and the investigation of new cases is ongoing. Mumps is highly contagious and is spread through coughing, sneezing and sharing cups and utensils. Symptoms include swollen or tender salivary glands, low fever, tiredness and muscle aches. People who think they have mumps should contact their health care provider and remain at home.  The MMR vaccine provides the best protection against the disease. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.

The MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy nearest you, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/vaccinesimmunizations/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/.

Lawsuit Launched to Stop Hawaii’s Airport, Harbor Lights From Killing Rare Seabirds

Conservation groups today filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Hawaii Department of Transportation for failing to prevent bright lighting at state-operated airports and harbors on Kauai, Maui and Lānai from causing injuries and death to three species of critically imperiled seabirds.

The Newell’s shearwater is a threatened species, and Hawaiian petrels and band-rumped storm petrels in Hawaii are endangered species. According to today’s notice from Hui Ho‘omalu i Ka ‘Āina, Conservation Council for Hawai‘i and the Center for Biological Diversity, represented by nonprofit law firm Earthjustice, the department’s failure to protect these native seabirds from harmful operations at its facilities violates the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Since ancient times, Hawaiian fishermen have looked to the ‘a‘o (Newell’s shearwater) to help them find fish,” said Kauai fisherman Jeff Chandler of Hui Ho‘omalu i Ka ‘Āina, which works to protect cultural and natural resources. “They’re an important part of our culture, and the Department of Transportation needs to take seriously its kuleana (responsibility) to protect them.”

The seabirds circle the bright lights at the department’s facilities until they fall to the ground from exhaustion or crash into nearby buildings. Bright lights have contributed significantly to the catastrophic 94 percent decline in the population of threatened Newell’s shearwaters on Kauai since the 1990s. They have also harmed endangered Hawaiian petrels, whose numbers on Kauai have plummeted by 78 percent in the same period.

“Fixing the lights so these magnificent seabirds on the brink of extinction aren’t killed is completely feasible,” said Brian Segee, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Instead, the department is doing everything in its power to avoid protecting these highly imperiled native Hawaiian birds. It’s worse than irresponsible — it’s unethical and illegal.”

Last October the department abruptly broke off discussions with federal and state wildlife agencies regarding its participation in an island-wide habitat conservation plan to minimize and mitigate harm to the rare seabirds on Kauai.

“By withdrawing from talks on Kauai, the department left the county of Kauai and private entities holding the bag to address harm from the airports and harbors, even though the department’s facilities are among the largest sources of illegal death and injury on the island,” said Marjorie Ziegler of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i. “The department needs to fulfill its duty under Hawaii’s constitution to conserve and protect our natural heritage, not stick its head in the sand and do nothing.”

The groups seek to compel the department to comply with its obligations under the Endangered Species Act to minimize and mitigate harm to the imperiled seabirds by securing incidental take permit coverage of its activities on all three islands. The Act requires that citizens provide 60 days’ advance notice before filing a lawsuit to address illegal activities.

“Time is running out for these rare and culturally important seabirds,” said David Henkin, an Earthjustice attorney representing the groups. “If the Hawaii Department of Transportation continues to shirk its obligations under the Endangered Species Act, we’ll see them in court.”

Click to read full letter

Hawaii DLNR Enforcement Division Launches New DLNRTip App

Last weekend a man sent DLNR Chair Suzanne Case photographs of two hammerhead sharks, left dead near the He‘eia Small Boat Harbor on Windward O‘ahu.  It’s impossible to determine how they died.  Were they hooked and discarded?  Were they caught up in a net?  Did someone kill them illegally?  This is exactly the kind of situation the DLNR hopes people will report immediately using its new DLNRTip app.

The DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) launched the new app to help people connect directly with conservation officers, view alerts, and submit anonymous tips from smartphones. It is an important extension of the agencies DLNR & You brand.

Developed by tip411, the DLNRTip app is an innovative program that encourages people to provide DOCARE with factual information leading to the arrest of anyone who poaches or harasses protected wildlife species, pollutes, or violates any State conservation resources rules.  1400 communities around the country are currently using the application developed by and managed by tip411. DLNRTip is available for download for free via the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, or by visiting the DOCARE website at dlnr.hawaii.gov/docare.

“Our stated mission is to serve to protect, conserve and manage Hawaiʻi’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of visitors and the people of Hawai’i nei,” said Robert Farrell, DOCARE Enforcement Chief. DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “We think DLNRtip is a natural extension of the DLNR & You brand and furthers our belief that we can’t protect our state’s natural and cultural resources without the thousands of eyes and ears of concerned citizens who can serve as proxies for DOCARE officers who clearly cannot be everywhere, all the time. DLNRTip will better connect our officers to people and expedite receipt of tips of wrongdoing and our subsequent responses.”

“We’re proud to partner with agencies like DLNR/DOCARE to help better connect members of the public with law enforcement to share information,” said tip411 President Terry Halsch.  “DLNRTip powered by tip411Mobile will greatly improve the public’s access to agency alerts, social media channels, important information, and more, to help protect natural and cultural resources in Hawai‘i.”

The DLNRTip app and tip411 are completely anonymous, as the technology removes all identifying information before officers see tips so there is no way to identify senders. People without a smartphone will be able to send an anonymous text tip via their cell phone to DOCARE by texting keyword DLNRTIP and their message/tip to 847411 (tip411).  Anonymous web tips can also be submitted through the DOCARE website noted above.  DOCARE will also continue to take calls and tips on its Statewide Hotline, 643-DLNR or 643-3567

Hawaii State Senators Joins 324 State Legislators in Support of Protecting Public Lands

Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz joined 324 state legislators of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) in a bipartisan effort to call on President Trump to maintain designations of national monuments, following the president’s recent executive order calling for a review of the Antiquities Act. The move could jeopardize national monuments designated by presidents in the past two decades.

Click to read the NCEL Letter

Since being enacted, the 1906 Antiquities Act has been the subject of 157 designations of national monuments by nearly every previous president beginning with President Theodore Roosevelt, and includes such areas and places as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Chaco Canyon, Olympic National Park, Muir Woods, and the Statue of Liberty. Presidential actions under the Antiquities Act in many instances led to subsequent congressional action to provide National Park status to these very special areas of natural and archaeological values, scientific and educational interest, and importance in our nation’s history and culture.

“Hawai‘i is home to four national monuments, including the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which is the largest contiguous fully protected conservation area in the United States. Protecting these areas is critical to ensure a legacy of natural and archaeological resources for future generations as well as building resiliency against the effects of clime change.” said Sen. Dela Cruz (Dist. 22 – Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho).

Seven other Hawai‘i state legislators signed the letter in support of protecting public lands, including Senators Karl Rhoads (Dist. 13 – Dowsett Highlands, Pu‘unui, Nu‘uanu, Pacific Heights, Pauoa, Punchbowl, Palama, Liliha, Iwilei, Chinatown, and Downtown) and Laura Thielen (Dist. 25 – Kailua, Lanikai, Enchanted Lake, Keolu Hills, Maunawili, Waimanalo, Hawai‘i Kai, Portlock).

The letter initiated by Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker urges the president to work with Congress and state legislators to increase public funding for the management of all federal lands and water rather than pursuing a pathway that could lead to weakening protections for these important publicly owned areas and sites.

“National monuments hold an important place in our history and culture in the United States. No president has attempted to revoke a national monument before,” said Jeff Mauk, Executive Director of NCEL. “We urge the president to work with Congress and state legislators to increase funding for public land management and boost the surrounding local economies.”

Economic benefits also have value in outdoor recreation and tourism. According to the 2017 Outdoor Recreation Economy Report by the Outdoor Industry Association, public lands, including national monuments, national parks, and national wildlife refuges created a significant amount of economic output.

“Public support for protecting special places is strong, and many small communities increasingly depend on tourism and the growing outdoor recreation economy,” said Ranker. “The effort to eliminate or shrink national monuments risks $45 billion generated nationwide by public lands, including national monuments.”