DLNR Continues to Remove Possible Japan Tsunami Debris From Hawaii Beaches

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) continues to respond to reports of possible Japan Tsunami Marine Debris items that arrive on island reefs and beaches.

beached boat

Today, a DLNR crew retrieved a reported 20’ skiff at Sandy Beach area, bearing Japanese characters and vessel registration numbers. It is the seventh boat reported since February this year, following six others that arrived on Hawaii shores. Three were on the Big Island, at Kohanaiki, Kawaihae and Kawa Bay. One was overturned on Maui near the Aston Mahana, and two on Oahu were reported, at Kahuku and Punaluu.

Beached Boat at Sandy

Two large plastic bins were also reported this week, which bore identification marks that may be traceable to Japan. One was located at Kamilo Beach, Hawaii and removed by volunteers of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The other was located on Kauai at Larsen’s beach.

Tsunami container

Items with identification numbers, Japanese characters, are reported to NOAA which works with the Japan Consulate in Hawaii to confirm provenance with the Government of Japan. Items not claimed by the original owner may then be disposed of.

To report large or unusual marine debris items, especially those that may have attached marine organisms, please email dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov and DisasterDebris@noaa.gov. Calls may also be made to DLNR at 587-0400.

NAVY Ship USS Chung-Hoon Denied Entry to Hilo Harbor

The US Navy Ship USS Chung-Hoon was spotted this morning off the Big Island of Hawaii this morning as it was expected to arrive in Hilo for the Merrie Monarch festivities.
Chung Hoon Refuel

Unfortunately the ship had to turn around once it got to the Big Island because the water in Hilo Harbor was not deep enough for the ship to port.

The NAVY has released the following statement:

In an abundance of caution and as advised by the embarked State Dept. of Transportation Harbor Pilot,  the Commanding Officer of USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93)  felt it was prudent to not proceed with entering Hilo Harbor this morning due to the shallow depth of the harbor.

Sharing the Navy with the people of Hilo is important. We certainly value the opportunity to showcase our Navy to the American people. Our partnership with the Hilo Council is an outstanding example where a community and the military join together to create an environment of mutual support and broad benefit and the Navy looks forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come, and we deeply regret the inconvenience this has caused to our friends and neighbors in Hilo.

Capt. Mark Manfredi, Chief of Staff, Navy Region Hawaii will still attend tonight’s Merrie Monarch Festivities and the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band will be flown over here to  march and perform in the Merrie Monarch Parade tomorrow morning.

Canada Announces $243-Million Contribution for Thirty Meter Telescope Project

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will provide up to $243.5 million over 10 years for the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the Government of Canada’s intention to provide significant support for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an international project that will build one of the world’s largest and most advanced astronomical observatories in Hawaii. The Prime Minister made the announcement following a tour of Vancouver’s Gordon MacMillan Southam Observatory. He was joined by James Moore, Minister of Industry.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

The Government’s support would provide resources over 10 years to enable Canada’s participation in the construction and commissioning of the TMT, alongside participants from the Japan, China, India and the United States.

The majority of the Government’s support for the TMT will be spent in Canada, creating high-quality jobs related to the construction and assembly of key telescope components, including a precision-steel enclosure by Dynamic Structures Limited, based in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and cutting-edge adaptive optics technologies, to be developed by the National Research Council in partnership with Canadian companies. As part of the project, dozens of Canadian businesses are expected to develop advanced capabilities and products transferable to future applications in the health, defence and telecommunications sectors – helping to create and maintain high-quality jobs in communities across Canada.

Canada’s contribution will also secure a viewing share for Canadian researchers at the TMT once it is operational in 2023-2024. This access will help to maintain Canadian scientific leadership in astronomy, paving the way to important scientific discoveries and helping to train highly-qualified personnel at post-secondary institutions across the country. Canada’s pursuit of new scientific discoveries will also help spark young Canadians’ interest in science disciplines for decades to come.

Quick Facts

Canada has world-leading expertise in astronomy and astrophysics, as noted by the Council of Canadian Academies in its 2012 State of Science and Technology. Canadian research publications in this field are highly impactful and Canadian expertise in astronomy is sought after internationally.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that Canada is first in the G-7 in terms of our support of research and development through our universities and colleges, relative to the size of our economy, since 1996.

Prime Minister Harper also recently announced a new $1.5 billion legacy investment to make Canadian research world-leading through the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. This new program is for world-leading research that will raise Canada’s standing globally.

Canada’s Space Policy Framework positions our domestic space industry at the forefront of cutting edge space activities; it strengthens strategic relationships with international partners in the interest of science and technology; and it advances Canada’s excellence in the key capability of space optics.

The TMT will employ advanced adaptive optics systems that will allow for the correction of atmospheric turbulence (what makes stars “twinkle”) and enable the clear observation of some of the faintest celestial objects and bodies.

The TMT’s enclosure, to be built in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, will incorporate a unique design to protect the telescope both from temperature and winds.

When completed, the telescope will stand in an observatory 22 18 stories tall, with a primary mirror extending 30 metres across, giving it approximately half the surface area of a National Hockey League rink.

Increased Vigilance for Bird Flu Encouraged for Hawaii Poultry and Bird Owners

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is encouraging Hawaii commercial and backyard poultry and bird owners to be vigilant due to outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 along the Pacific flyway (migratory bird path). Hawaii bird and poultry owners are encouraged to institute and maintain good biosecurity measures, which include good sanitation practices and making sure that their birds do not come in contact with other wild and migratory birds.

Flyways

“Hawaii may be geographically far from other land masses, but some migratory birds do fly to Hawaii,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Bird owners, particularly those who keep their birds outdoors should take precautions, be vigilant and report any symptoms of diseased or dead birds in their flocks.”

Since December 2014, there have been several confirmed outbreaks of HPAI H5 in the Pacific flyway (California, Utah, Nevada and Idaho). In March, new infected premises were also detected along the Central and Mississippi flyways (Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas). The strain that is circulating is a mix of the highly pathogenic Asian and low pathogenic North American strains and has been found in wild birds, as well as in a few backyard and commercial poultry flocks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers the risk to people from the current strains of HPAI to be low. No human cases of these strains have been detected in the United State, Canada, or internationally.

Fortunately, HDOA already has established strict bird import laws that require permits, inspections, health certificates, and in some cases, isolation periods prior to arrival and physical identification. There is also an embargo on importing birds through the mail.

The HDOA veterinarians have been closely monitoring the outbreaks and have implemented pre-entry avian influenza test requirements on imported poultry and birds. In addition, import restrictions have been placed on all poultry, other birds, hatching eggs and day-old chicks from affected zones within states to prevent the importation of infected birds. HDOA also conducts continuous surveillance on poultry within the state for avian influenza.

In Canada and affected states in the U.S., the outbreaks have occurred in domestic turkey farms and some back yard poultry farms that have association with wild waterfowl. There have been no farm-to-farm transmissions and no human illnesses associated with this disease outbreak. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the departments of agriculture in the affected states have quickly quarantined, disposed of infected flocks and set up quarantine and surveillance zones to help insure the disease does not spread.

Poultry and bird owners in Hawaii who notice high mortality in their poultry or birds should contact the HDOA, Division of Animal Industry at (808) 483-7106 to report their losses.

For more information on avian influenza, go to the HDOA website at: http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/ai/ldc/adconcerns/aiinfo/

Or, USDA website: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=avian_influenza.html

Or, CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h5/index.htm

Honouliuli National Monument Dedicated

U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel was in Hawaii today to dedicate the Honouliuli National Monument.

Honored, humbled to dedicate Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii today.  Secretary of State Sally Jewel

“Honored, humbled to dedicate Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii today,” said Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel

The monument will help tell the sad but important story of Japanese internment in Hawaii during WWII.

Mayor Kenoi Extends Emergency Proclamation for Puna Lava Flow

Yesterday, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi signed a fourth proclamation relating to the events of the June 27th Lava Flow.

Click to view proclamation

Click to view proclamation

A fourth supplementary proclamation pertaining to the declared state of emergency in Puna was issued March 30th by Mayor Billy Kenoi, extending the emergency for another 60 days.

Hawaii Police Kill 5 Unarmed Hawaii Residents in 8 Months – Group Calls for Justice for Sheldon Haleck

Today we say NO MORE!   World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i calls on the people of Hawai`i to demand the truth about the circumstances surrounding the death of Sheldon Haleck.

JusticeWe challenge the media to vigorously investigate the actions of the HPD and to refuse to parrot police reports and attempts to vilify victims of police brutality and murder.

We challenge the people of Hawaii to stand with the victims of police brutality and create an atmosphere where families can talk openly about their loved ones, and where witnesses of police brutality can step forward to tell the truth.

justice2In the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, people across the U.S. righteously stood up against police murder and brutality, the targeting of Black and Brown people, and the lack of prosecution of the police for their crimes.

People of different races and nationalities, and from all walks of life, joined together to say, “We  Can’t Breathe,” in solidarity with those being victimized. Through many different forms of protest and resistance, the entire society was finally forced to confront this burning injustice.  Meanwhile, murder by police continues unchecked.

justice3In the last 8 months HPD has killed at least 5 unarmed Hawai`i residents.  Hawai`i has one of the highest rates of police murder and brutality in the U.S.

The epidemic of police murder and brutality must end!   NOW!

On April 14 World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i will be joining with people across the U.S. calling for a Shut Down to Stop Murder (#ShutDownA14).  Go to www.stopmassincarceration.net to connect with the growing movement against police murder, brutality and mass incarceration!”

Commentary:

15 people responded to our Call to a Vigil/Signholding in front of Iolani Palace to
Demand Justice for Sheldon Haleck.  A small memorial was set up and our signs lined King Street during rush hour.

Many commuters honked their horns; a few stopped their cars to ask what had happened; several pedestrians stopped to talk, thank us, or tell about their own experiences with police brutality.

We also heard some potentially important new information.  According to someone who was within several hundred yards of the killing but did not personally see Sheldon get tased,, Sheldon was “dragged from the street” rather than “escorted,” as the HPD report claimed, and  several people he had spoken with overheard conversations between the police immediately after Sheldon was tased saying they were “worried that the woman cop who tased Sheldon had tased him too long.”   At this point facts are still sketchy, but while we held signs we couldn’t help but note that there were a number of surveillance cameras in the vicinity that might hold important information.

A Press Release was sent to members of Hawai`i’s media; only Channel 9 came out.  The photographer took a lot of pictures, but we haven’t seen any coverage.

World Can’t Wait Hawaii

 

National PBS Documentary Features Local Efforts to Perpetuate Hawaiian Language

What does it take to save a language? Poet Bob Holman travels across the globe to uncover answers – including a stop in Hawaii to feature ongoing efforts to perpetuate our native language. Language Matters with Bob Holman makes its Hawaii broadcast premiere Thursday, March 19 at 8:00 p.m. on PBS Hawaii. language matters

Filmed around the world, the two-hour documentary features Hawaii in the third of three acts. Among those featured: Puakea Nogelmeier (pictured in attached photo with Holman), Pele Harman (pictured in attached photo with students from Ke Kula O Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u), Kauanoe Kamana, Larry Kimura, Kepa Maly, W.S. Merwin, Lolena Nicholas, Keali‘i Reichel and Kau‘i Sai-Dudoit.

Holman makes two other global stops:

  • In Australia, Holman visits Charlie Mangulda, an Aboriginal songman (poet), who is the only person left on the planet who speaks Amurdak. With linguist Nick Evans, Holman also flies to Goulburn Island off the coast of Northern Australia, where he meets a community of 400 people speaking ten languages, many endangered, all vulnerable.
  • In Wales, Holman explores the humor, rage and lyricism of the Welsh people, who brought their language back from the edge of extinction. Currently, three million people live in Wales and speak the native language.

Language Matters with Bob Holman is a co-production of David Grubin Productions Inc. and Pacific Islanders in Communications. For more information, visit the film’s website: www.languagemattersfilm.com

Hawaii County Ordered to Suspend Drug Tests for Employees

Constitution protects government employees from such invasive medical examinations

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i and the law firm of Peiffer Rosca Wolf Abdullah Kane & Carr sued Hawai’i County in federal court on Monday, March 9 on behalf of Rebekah Taylor-Failor, a Kailua-Kona woman who is about to begin working for the County.

After giving her a conditional job offer, the County required her, as it requires all its prospective employees, to submit to a urinalysis and an invasive medical examination.
Piss TestShe asked the Court to allow her to start working (as a Legal Clerk II – a typical desk job) without submitting to a urinalysis; on Friday, March 13, the Court granted that request, ruling that “the urinalysis would violate Taylor-Failor’s Fourth Amendment rights[.]”

Until now, the County of Hawai’i required its prospective employees to submit a urine sample, which the County would subject to analysis that could reveal sensitive private medical information – such as whether an individual is diabetic or has a urinary tract infection – regardless of the physical duties the applicant would perform on the job.  The ACLU of Hawai’i and co-counsel Adam Wolf asked the Court for a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the County from obtaining this private information from Ms. Taylor-Failor’s bodily fluids, citing constitutional protections from suspicionless searches.

In an attempt to avoid litigation, the ACLU of Hawaii reached out to the Hawaii County Department of Corporation Counsel in 2013, explaining that the County’s policies and procedures were unconstitutional; the County responded – incorrectly – that its policies were valid.  But siding against the County, the Court ruled in its order that “the County has proffered no explanation as to why it is entitled to search Taylor-Failor’s urine before she may begin employment in her light duty, clerical, non-safety-sensitive position….  Employment requirements cannot stand where they violate rights of a constitutional dimension.”

Mr. Wolf said, “The Constitution protects government employees from such invasive medical examinations.  The County of Hawai’i has no need to demand that its clerks reveal whether they have a urinary tract infection or diabetes.  Today’s ruling is a historic step toward reforming pre-employment medical tests so that they comply with the constitution.”

Rebekah Taylor-Failor said, “I’m eager to start working for the County, and I’m glad that the Court is allowing me to do so without having to sacrifice my constitutional rights.”

ACLU of Hawai’i Legal Director Daniel Gluck said, “We are glad the Court has recognized that the government does not need to perform invasive searches of bodily fluids to determine whether an office worker can perform her job.  Medical data is some of our most privately held information, and it is critical that we protect it from government overreach.”

The mission of the Hawai’i affiliate of the ACLU is to protect the civil liberties contained in the state and federal constitutions through litigation, legislative and public education programs statewide. The ACLU is funded primarily through private donations and offers its services at no cost to the public. The ACLU does not accept any government funds.

20th Annual Kick Butts Day in Hawaii

Kids in Hawaii will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

toll of tobaccoOn Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Hawaii, tobacco companies spend $26.9 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry’s tactics that entice kids include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry’s own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as “replacement smokers” for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they’re not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs.”

Health advocates in Hawaii are urging state leaders to increase the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 to reduce smoking and save lives. In Hawaii, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.4 percent of Hawaii’s high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids engage in creative events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

In Hawaii, activities include:

Youth with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii in Honolulu will hold a major event at the State Capitol to educate and empower their peers to advocate for a bill to raise the tobacco age of sale in the state to 21. Youth will create signs, post to social media, and meet with legislators in support of the bill. Time: 10 AM. Location: 415 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu. Contact: Mary Goldsworthy (509) 710-4298.

Students at Helemano School Age Center in Wahiawa will learn about the dangers of smoking and create a short phrase about staying tobacco-free to display in the youth center’s fence with cups. Time: 3 PM. Location: 327 Kuapale Road, Wahiawa. Contact: Rebecca Staggs (808) 653-0724.

The U.S. Army Hawaii Youth Sports in Honolulu will hold a day of activities for youth to stand up to tobacco, including a fun run, a dance performance to ‘Thriller’ and informational activities. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 4725 Bougainville Drive, Honolulu. Contact: Brittany Bigham (808) 426-8790.

All events noted above are on March 18. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Hawaii, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

Friends of HVNP & Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Earn National Award for Public Lands Partnership

The nonprofit group Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (FHVNP), and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, received the Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL) 2015 Partnership Award for Public Lands Partners.

Funds raised by the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park support many park programs, including the youth ranger internship program. Shown here, Youth Ranger Fernando Ramangmou trains for search and rescue missions in the park. NPS Photo/David Boyle.

Funds raised by the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park support many park programs, including the youth ranger internship program. Shown here, Youth Ranger Fernando Ramangmou trains for search and rescue missions in the park. NPS Photo/David Boyle.

According to the APPL, the Public Lands Partners Award recognizes “an exemplary partnership for a stunning achievement to protect and preserve our public lands and enhance the experiences of their visitors and users.” The award is presented in tandem to both the nonprofit and agency partners for their shared achievements.

“We rely on the support of our Friends group, which is vital to the success of many park programs, including the Youth Ranger Internship Program, now in its sixth year, and the upcoming BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival in May,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “It is wonderful to be recognized for such a positive and essential partnership,” she said.

Because of the partnership, nearly 140 high school students in Ka‘ū and Puna have landed paid internships in the park since 2010, and thousands of island residents, visitors, and schoolchildren will be able to participate with scientists in discovering the unique biodiversity of the park.

The organization’s mission is to support the park in the protection, preservation, and interpretation of the natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment of current and future generations. It has raised more than $700,000 for the national park since 2009.

“We are honored to share this award with Hawai‘i Volcanoes National park,” said Elizabeth Fien, Executive Director of the FHVNP. “We have a very collaborative partnership that exemplifies the way nonprofits should work with public land agencies,” she said.

The APPL Partnership Awards celebrate the best in public lands partnerships, recognizing individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs and services that embody leading edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors.

For over 35 years, APPL has served as the national voice for nonprofit public lands partners and has strengthened its membership through education, information sharing and representation. Its membership is comprised of nonprofit organizations whose missions embrace a vibrant future for the nation’s natural and cultural heritage.

Big Island Hosting 11 Nations: Trans-Pacific Partnership Meeting Begins

Eleven nations will be meeting tomorrow here on the Big Island at an undisclosed location  to work on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

Leaders of TPP member states and prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010.

U.S. failure to pass a trans-Pacific agreement would leave a political vacuum for China to fill.

Beginning tomorrow on the Big Island of Hawaii, U.S. officials will host trade negotiators from 11 nations spanning Asia and the Americas to work toward completing what could be the most significant trade deal in a generation. Five years in the making, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cover 40% of global gross domestic product and a third of world trade.

Any such deal ultimately will have to make it through the U.S. Congress. In order to prevent lawmakers from amending the agreement and undoing years of international negotiations, Congress will first have to provide President Obama with trade promotion authority, also known as “fast-track,” that allows a yes-or-no vote on the package.

The remainder of this Wall Street Journal opinion piece can be found here: A Trade Deal With a Bonus For National Security

New Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-In-Charge

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Christina (Tina) Neal to serve as the new Scientist-in-Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Neal succeeds Jim Kauahikaua, who served in the position for the past ten years.

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Christina Neal, Scientist-in-Charge, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

It is a fitting coincidence that Neal, only the second woman to lead USGS HVO in its 103-year-long history, takes the helm on March 8, International Women’s Day, a day established to celebrate the achievements of women around the world.

“Tina brings to the HVO Scientist-in-Charge position the required breadth of scientific background, strong communication skills, and eruption response experience, including much work with various communities at risk. I was thrilled when she accepted the position, because I knew that both HVO and the communities that it serves will be in good hands going forward,” said Tom Murray, Director of the USGS Volcano Science Center, which oversees all five U.S. volcano observatories.

Neal comes to Hawai‘i from Alaska, where she spent almost 25 years working as a USGS geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory. After so many years in the land of the midnight sun, swapping snowshoes for ‘slippahs’ (flip-flops) might seem a drastic change, but she’s no stranger to the aloha state—or HVO.

From 1983 to 1989, Neal lived in Volcano, and worked on the staff at HVO.  Her work included monitoring Kīlauea Volcano during the early years of its ongoing East Rift Zone eruption, as well as Mauna Loa during its 1984 eruption. She fondly recalls one day in March 1984, when she spent the morning working atop the erupting Mauna Loa and the afternoon collecting lava samples from the active Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent on Kīlauea.  For a volcanologist, simultaneous eruptions on two volcanoes made for an unforgettable workday.

As part of the Big Island Mapping Project, Neal mapped the summit of Kīlauea, resulting in the USGS publication “Geologic Map of the Summit Region of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawaii.” She also mapped Kīlauea’s Southwest Rift Zone for the “Geologic Map of the Island of Hawai‘i.”

In 1990, Neal moved to Alaska to work at the newly-created AVO in Anchorage.  There, she monitored and studied a number of Alaskan volcanoes and their eruptions, including Redoubt (1989–1990 and 2009), Mount Spurr (1992), Augustine (2005–2006), and Okmok (2008). Working on remote Alaskan stratovolcanoes is not for the faint-hearted—the steep-sided, glacier-covered volcanic mountains are hazardous even when not erupting—a tip-off to the mettle of which Neal is made.

In 1998, Neal accepted a two-year assignment in Washington, D.C., as the first USGS geoscience advisor to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, within the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is responsible for coordinating U.S. government responses to disasters overseas. Her travels during this assignment took her to Thailand, Nepal, Ecuador, Colombia, Kazakhstan, and other foreign countries, where she reviewed or assisted with the implementation of hazard mitigation programs.

When Neal returned to AVO in 2000, she resumed her work as a geologist—mapping and studying active Alaskan volcanoes. With colleagues, she strengthened the Alaska-based interagency response system for volcanic eruptions and coordinated AVO’s eruption monitoring and crisis response efforts with Russian volcanology counterparts. She is also internationally recognized for her efforts to reduce the risk of volcanic ash to aviation in the North Pacific and globally.

In addition to outstanding geologic work, Neal honed her managerial skills during two details as Chief of Staff and Deputy Regional Director for the USGS Western Regional Office in 2009–2010 and as Acting Scientist-in-Charge at AVO in 2010.

Over the years, Neal has maintained ties to HVO.  In 2012, she helped with HVO’s 100th Anniversary Open House, and in October 2014, she spent two weeks at HVO assisting with monitoring efforts and community meetings as Kīlauea’s active lava flow moved toward Pāhoa.

UH Hilo’s Team Hoku Wins Microsoft Video Challenge

UH Hilo’s Team Hoku captured first place in the 2015 Microsoft Imagine Cup Pitch Video Challenge, Games Category.

eam Hoku, featured from left to right: Casey Pearring, Brian Hall and Theodore DeRego (not pictured: Lucas DeRego).

Team Hoku, featured from left to right: Casey Pearring, Brian Hall and Theodore DeRego (not pictured: Lucas DeRego).

Team members Brian Hall, Theodore DeRego, Lucas DeRego and Casey Pearring created reForge, a 2D online sci-fi sandbox game where players command customizable ships in tactical battles. UH Hilo students Kristin Pederson and Kelli Yamane worked on the documentation aspects of the game, although they are not official members.

Team Hoku received a $3,000 cash prize and is moving on to the Blueprint and User Experience challenges. The Imagine Cup competition is recognized as the premier global student technology competition, honoring innovations that address the world’s toughest problems.

National Call to Native Artists: Support for Indigenous Culture Makers

American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists nationwide have until April 6 to apply for the 2015 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) Artist Fellowship.

To date, 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture makers have been honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. NACF Fellows clockwise from left, work by Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), visual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq) in studio, work by Alan Michelson (Mohawk), performance by author Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), still from documentary film by Christen Marquez (Native Hawaiian) and weaver Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) in studio.

To date, 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture makers have been honored with a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Artist Fellowship. NACF Fellows clockwise from left, work by Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), visual artist Sonya Kelliher-Combs (Athabascan/Iñupiaq) in studio, work by Alan Michelson (Mohawk), performance by author Sherwin Bitsui (Navajo), still from documentary film by Christen Marquez (Native Hawaiian) and weaver Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy) in studio.

The coveted national award includes support ranging up to $20,000 per artist. Awards will be made in six artistic disciplines, including: performing arts, filmmaking, literature, music, traditional arts and visual arts. “To meet a broadening need in the arts community, this year we invite applications in the discipline of performing arts,” said NACF Program Officer Andre Bouchard (of Kootenai and Chippewa descent). “More Native artists than ever before are exploring performing arts through multi-disciplinary approaches. We are looking forward to seeing what Native performing artists have been up to around the country!”

DEADLINE: Monday, April 6, 5 p.m. P.S.T.

To apply, artists who are members of federally and state-recognized U.S. tribes, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities can review criteria and complete an application at http://your.culturegrants.org before the April 6, 5 p.m. PST deadline.

The foundation will announce award recipients in August 2015. For questions and technical support, contact Program Officer Andre Bouchard at andre@nativeartsandcultures.org or (360) 314-2421.

One of the only opportunities in the U.S. of this magnitude dedicated to supporting Indigenous artists and culture makers, the foundation’s national fellowship has been awarded to 41 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists so far. Artists who have received the award in the past are ineligible to apply for the 2015 NACF Artist Fellowship. Past fellows include visual artist Nora Naranjo Morse (Tewa), recording artist Keola Beamer (Native Hawaiian), choreographer Emily Johnson (Yup’ik), author David Treuer (Ojibwe), multidisciplinary artist Shan Goshorn (Eastern Band Cherokee) and film director Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiaq).

Since it began operating in 2009, the nonprofit foundation has invested $5,113,574 in programs to support Native arts and cultures across the nation, including direct support for over 127 Native artists and organizations. To learn more about the foundation’s mission and past fellows awarded, visit www.nativeartsandcultures.org.

Department of Health Now in Charge of Medical Marijuana – Rules Change

The Hawaii State Department of Health has completed the transfer of the medical marijuana registration program from the Department of Public Safety. The program officially became part of the Department of Health on Jan. 1, 2015. Hawaii is one of 23 states along with the District of Columbia that allows medical marijuana use.

Possession of a valid medical marijuana registration card issued by the Department of Health and based on the written certification of a physician permits the lawful cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Act 177 was signed into law in June 2013 and authorized the transfer of the 14-year-old program to the Department of Health. As a health initiative, the medical marijuana program is better aligned with the Department of Health’s mission and the department’s experience in working with patients and health programs that involve public outreach, education and safeguarding patient privacy.

Act 178, which was also signed into law in June 2013, amends sections of the existing law. The Department of Health has made the following changes to comply with the law:

  • Law Enforcement 24/7 Online Verification – In accordance with Act 178, the Department of Health will provide 24/7 subject verification to designated law enforcement officers. Although no confidential information will be released, designated law enforcement officers will be able to verify if an individual has a valid medical marijuana registration card should the need arise for official law enforcement purposes. Designated officers are being trained by the department.
  • Registration Fee Increase -The patient medical marijuana registration fee has increased from $25 to $35 effective Jan. 1, 2015. A new, convenient online application and payment system makes the application process easier and faster. A portal administration fee of $3.50 will be charged for the required online services. “We’re working to make the medical marijuana program more accessible to Hawaii residents who may have a qualifying debilitating medical condition and could benefit from medicinal use of marijuana,” said Scottina “Scotty” Malia Ruis, medical marijuana program coordinator with the Department of Health.

The Hawaii Department of Health has also initiated a number of upgrades to the medical marijuana program:

Click to enter site

Click to enter site

  • New Medical Marijuana Website – The Department of Health has established a website with information on the medical marijuana program at www.health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana This is the most complete and up-to-date source of information for patients, physicians, law enforcement officials and the public. The site’s home page features a sign-up box for automatic medical marijuana program updates. This is the best way to keep abreast of all improvements and changes as the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program develops.
  • Phone Information Hotline – The Department of Health has established a phone hotline with recorded messages on different aspects of the medical marijuana program. The phone number is 733-2177. Toll free numbers have also been established for neighbor island residents: Hawaii Island residents may call 974-4000, ext. 32177; Maui residents may call 984-2400, ext. 32177; and Kauai residents may call 274-3141, ext. 32177.
  • New DOH Medical Marijuana Registration Card – This month, the Department of Health began issuing its new medical marijuana registration card, which includes the location of the where the marijuana is grown and the name of the primary care physician. The new card is thin and wallet-sized like an insurance card making it easier for patients and caregivers to keep with them whenever they are in possession of medical marijuana. The new white card with a colored Department of Health logo will replace the long familiar Department of Public Safety “blue card.”
  • Physician Education – Physician outreach and information sharing through planned conference calls has been ongoing to ensure healthcare providers have accurate information about the program. Physicians who are currently certifying patients for the program are emailed information about conference calls and other updates.

Beginning Jan. 28, DOH will hold public hearings for the proposed adoption of Chapter 11-160, Hawaii Administrative Rules for Medical Use of Marijuana. This proposed new chapter will include the process for DOH to consider approval of additional debilitating medical conditions for medical use of marijuana; physician requirements to participate in the program; registration of qualifying patients and primary caregivers; monitoring and corrective action; administrative procedure; and confidentiality of information. The proposed rules are posted at http://co.doh.hawaii.gov/sites/har/admrulechange/default.aspx

Public hearings are scheduled in each county as follows.

  • Jan. 28 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Hilo, Hawaii at the State Office Building conference rooms A, B and C located at 75 Aupuni St.
  • Feb. 2 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Honolulu, Oahu at the Diamond Head Health Center room 418 located at 3627 Kilauea Ave.
  • Feb. 3 (10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) in Wailuku, Maui at the State Office Building third floor conference room located at 54 South High St.
  • Feb. 5 (10:30 a.m.-12 noon) in Lihue, Kauai at the State Office Building basement room located at 3060 Eiwa St.

Requests or questions related to the upcoming public hearings may be sent to medicalmarijuana@doh.hawaii.gov

Senator Brian Schatz Responds to State of the Union Address

Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement following President Obama’s annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.

Sen. Brian Schatz

Sen. Brian Schatz

“Tonight we heard the President lay out his vision for the year ahead to ensure that our economy continues its recovery and that our economic policies and priorities strengthen and expand the middle class.

“This is particularly important in Hawai‘i, where the high cost of living makes it tougher for hard-working middle class families to share in the American dream.

“For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have used unfair loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Tonight, the President proposed a simpler, fairer tax code that closes those loopholes and uses those savings to support tax credits for working parents. These smart investments will help middle class families succeed and bolster our economy.

“The President’s proposal to expand access to higher education and make community college free for every responsible student is an important step forward. We all know that a college education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder.

“I am also glad that the President focused on home ownership and the need to make mortgages more affordable. Helping families attain the dream of home ownership is even more important in Hawai‘i, where the high prices stress family budgets.

“I hope as we begin the New Year my Republican colleagues in Congress will welcome the President’s proposals to strengthen the middle class and will work with Democrats to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.”

 

Hawaii Facilities Report 3 Million Pounds of Toxic Chemical Released During 2013

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report that showed that the majority of toxic chemicals managed at industrial facilities in the U.S. were not released into the environment. Nationally in 2013, approximately 84 percent of the 26 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were managed through the use of preferred practices such as recycling.

Of the 4 billion pounds that were disposed of or otherwise released to the environment, 66 percent went to land, 19 percent to air, 5 percent to water, and 10 percent was transferred to other facilities. Individual fact sheets for the Pacific Southwest Region states and territories were also made available yesterday.

toxic releases 2013

A total of 35 Hawaii facilities reported 3 million pounds of toxic chemical releases during 2013. Hawaii’s total reported on-site and off-site releases increased when compared to the 2.7 million pounds reported in 2012. AES Hawaii Inc., and Hawaiian Electric Co.’s Kahe Generating Station, both electric generation utilities, were the top two facilities for total on-site and off-site releases. For detailed Hawaii information and the list of the top facilities, please visit: http://iaspub.epa.gov/triexplorer/tri_factsheet.factsheet_forstate?&pstate=HI&pyear=2013&pDataSet=TRIQ1

Puna Lava Flow Causes Runaway Brush Fires – Evacuation Not Required Yet

This is a brush fire information update for Thursday January 15th at 3:30PM.

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The Hawaii Fire Department reports two runaway brushfires in the area of the lava flow in Pahoa.  Both fires started from the active lava flow and are currently burning in a north/northeast direction.  The fires are located to the west or above highway 130 and approximately .6 to .9 miles from the Ainaloa subdivision.

The fires have not yet burned to the fire break adjacent to the Ainaloa subdivision and currently no homes or properties are threatened.  No evacuation is required at this time.

Fire department personnel and equipment are on scene along with helicopters and a bull dozer working to contain and extinguish the fires.

Additional updates will be broadcast as conditions change.

This is your Hawaii County Civil Defense

DLNR to Acquire and Permanently Protect Molokai Freshwater Pond

As part of the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources will acquire and permanently protect a 66-acre freshwater pond on Moloka’i, including the island’s largest freshwater pond.

Hawaiian Coot

Hawaiian Coot

The pond provides habitat for the endangered Hawaiian coot and the Hawaiian stilt, but faces an imminent threat from sedimentation and invasive plants that degrade, fill and eliminate wetland habitat.

Hawaiian Stilt

Hawaiian Stilt

Restoration will include the removal of invasive plants encroaching on the pond and removal of a large accumulation of sediment that has displaced a portion of the pond.

This project is a crucial part of a larger plan to protect the Pua’ahala watershed as a new state wildlife sanctuary extending from the mountains to the coral reefs.

molokai grant

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced over $21 million will be provided to 25 projects in 13 coastal and Great Lakes states to protect, restore or enhance more than 11,000 acres of coastal wetlands and adjacent upland habitats under the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program.

State and local governments, private landowners, conservation groups and other partners will contribute over $35 million in additional funds to these projects, which include acquiring, restoring or enhancing coastal wetlands and adjacent uplands to provide long-term conservation benefits to fish and wildlife and their habitats.

The program, funded through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters, creates significant benefits for other recreationists and the American public. The billions of dollars generated through recreational angling, boating, waterfowl hunting and bird watching benefit communities in the vicinity of wetlands restoration projects.

Click here for the complete list of projects funded by the 2015 grant program.

The Service awards grants of up to $1 million to states based on a national competition, which enables states to determine and address their highest conservation priorities in coastal areas. Since 1992, the Service has awarded over $357 million in grants under the program.

Conservation of coastal wetlands ecosystems will not only benefits coastal wetland-dependent wildlife, but will also enhance flood protection and water quality, and provide economic and recreational benefits to anglers, boaters, hunters and wildlife watchers.