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Additional ‘Alalā Released Into Natural Area Reserve

Second Group of Rare Crows Joins First Group in Native Forests of Hawai’i Island

Five young ‘alalā, two females and three males, were released into Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve (NAR) on the Island of Hawai‘i on Wednesday, October 11th.  This second group of birds joins a previous group that had been released into the forest at the end of September.  These eleven birds represent what conservationists hope will be the beginning of a recovered population of the endangered crow species on the island.

The ‘alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program.

“Our efforts to bring this species back from the brink of extinction have been tremendously bolstered by our ability to protect a small population of ‘alalā in a conservation breeding program in Hawai‘i,” said Michelle Bogardus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Geographic Team Leader for Maui Nui and the Hawai’i Islands.  “Now that we have built up the population to more than 125 birds at the Hawaiian Bird Center we can begin the long road to recovering this incredible species in its native habitat.”

The first group of ‘alalā released into the forests of Hawai‘i in late 2016 encountered predation pressures from the native Hawaiian hawk, or `Io.  Surviving birds from this first group were brought back into aviaries while a team of conservationists looked at ways to improve their chances in the next reintroduction.

“Knowing that there is a high mortality rate associated with releasing species into the wild, particularly in a situation like this where the species has been absent from native habitats for close to two decades, the ‘Alalā Working Group looked closely at how to improve the many factors that might affect the success of these two groups,” said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, Project Coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project. “The team developed new strategies that took into account outcomes from the last release, while adapting management techniques to improve successful transition to the wild.”

The concerted reintroduction efforts, funded by the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have addressed challenges by changing the timing of release to avoid the peak of winter storms, changing the release site location, releasing mixed-sex cohorts with established social associations, and enhancing the “antipredator training program” to reinforce the instinctual behaviors for responding to predators like `Io.

“The first group has stayed together, foraging close to the release aviary and creating social groups with each other similar to what we expect for young birds of this species,” said Joshua Pang-Ching, Research Coordinator for the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.  “We also observed some alarm calling showing us that these individuals are very aware of their surroundings and are learning to respond to the natural threats that may occur in their environment.”

The team will continue to monitor the group of eleven birds in the NAR for years to come.  The NAR is an area that The Three Mountain Alliance and DLNR have worked for decades to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents one of the types of habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline.

‘Alalā have a legacy of being an integral part of the life of the Hawaiian forest, as they eat and assist with the dispersal of native plant seeds. ‘Alalā are not only ecologically significant as dispersers of Hawai’i’s native plants, but they are significantly revered in Hawaiian culture.  The reintroduction of this species is expected to play an important part in the overall recovery of native ecosystems.

Internet Service Down at Big Island Public Libraries

The Hawaii State Public Library System reports that the internet is down at all public libraries on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Library locations on the Big Island.

Equipment and technical staff are being flown in for repairs.  It is not known at this time when the internet will be back up and running.

UPDATE: “Earlier today, the high speed fiber network that provides internet connectivity to all Hawaii State Public Library System staff and public computers on Hawaii Island went down. Limited internet connectivity has been temporarily restored to some Hawaii Island branch staff. Internet connectivity for all public access computers remains down island-wide until further notice.  Equipment and technical staff are being flown to Hawaii Island for repairs.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our Hawaii Island library patrons and thank them for their patience.”

Tragedy on Kauai: Multi-Agency Community Response to Pilot Whale Strandings on Kaua`i – Five Dead

UPDATE: Five whales have now tragically passed away.

Update: A third dead whale washed ashore this afternoon.

This morning NOAA Fisheries, the U.S Coast Guard, Kauai County Fire and Police Departments and the DLNR Divisions of Aquatic Resources (DAR) and Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) joined concerned community members and native Hawaiian cultural practitioners to respond to a beaching event and attending to two five Pilot whales that died on Kalapaki Beach on the north side of Nawiliwili Harbor.

Kaua‘i County provided heavy machinery to lift the deceased stranded whales off the beach and onto truck trailers provided by DOCARE. The whales were taken to an undisclosed location where autopsies are expected to continue into the night.

David Schofield, NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Response Coordinator in Hawai‘i said, “We have no indication of a cause of death at this time.  Disease and old age are common causes of death for whales, but it’s too soon to know.  Post mortem exams occasionally reveal a likely cause, but more often they are inconclusive, and we must then wait for lab test results.  Working with the UH Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology, our stranding response partner, we will ensure the post mortem exam and lab tests are thorough and comprehensive.”

Gregg Howald, Director of Global and External Affairs for Island Conservation, the organization that led recent rat eradication efforts on Lehua Island, said, “As conservationists committed to preserving wildlife, we are deeply saddened by these mortalities. We know, with the highest degree of confidence that the Lehua Restoration Project and the rodenticides applied in that project have virtually no chance of contributing to the whales’ demise; The likelihood of any impact to pilot whales is so unlikely, it is bordering on the impossible. The good people of Hawaii have had the good fortune to observe natural wildlife in paradise for hundreds of years, and they can tell us that Pilot Whale beachings are quite common.”

Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i received initial notification of the stranding from an off duty Coast Guard member who was out surfing. Station personnel immediately called the local NOAA representative on Kaua‘i for direction and response. Coast Guard personnel were directed to monitor the whales and prevent anyone from touching them prior to the arrival of the NOAA staff within 15 minutes. Once on scene, NOAA personnel evaluated the animals and directed Coast Guard and Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel on the proper way to reintroduce the animals to the ocean. Once in the water Kaua‘i Fire Department personnel and volunteers aboard outrigger canoes escorted the whales out of the harbor.

“We appreciate the public’s concern for these animals and the strong partnership we have with NOAA and other agencies to address strandings,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Winiarski, officer-in-charge Coast Guard Station Kaua‘i. “NOAA are the experts and the lead agency in these cases. They have the veterinarians, personnel and authority to properly handle marine mammal strandings. The public can best help stranded marine animals by contacting NOAA’s hotline at 888-256-9850. Serious injury can result when untrained people attempt to hold or move these animals.”

At Kalapaki Beach native Hawaiians offered pules for the whales that stranded and it’s expected additional pule will be offered prior to their burial. Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho commented, “It was a very emotional scene this morning at Kalapaki, and it leaves us very heavy-hearted that we could not save all the whales. But at the same time, everyone on the beach pulled together with a sense of aloha to help the whales in a way that was respectful and professional. Mahalo to the state DLNR, the U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Kaua‘i Marriott, and our responding personnel with the Kaua‘i Police Department, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Ocean Safety Bureau, and all the volunteers involved in the care, concern, and assistance of the whales.”

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point also is conducting fly-overs of Kalapaki Bay to further assess the situation, and look for any other stranded marine mammals. NOAA, DLNR and county representatives will continue monitoring the beach and the harbor through at least tomorrow in the event other whales become stranded on the beach.

Pilot whales are considered among the most social of all whale species. On the East Coast and in New Zealand hundreds of them have been known to become stranded on beaches at one time. Scientists believe their very close social connections may account for behavior that suggests when one member of the family gets sick or in trouble all the others will stick with them.

Police Seek the Public’s Assistance with Fatal Industrial Accident

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a fatal industrial accident involving a 45-year-old man falling through the roof of a warehouse in the Panaʻewa area yesterday, (October 10).

At 1:42 p.m., officers responded to a business on Kealakai Street to a report of a man who fell approximately 40 feet through a fiberglass portion of a roof to a warehouse he was painting, landing on the concrete floor. The victim, 45-year-old Peter Tosie of Hilo, was an employee of a painting company contracted by the business.

The victim was transported by medics to the Hilo Medical Center in critical condition where he succumbed to his injuries at 2:19 p.m.

Detectives assigned to the Criminal Investigation Section are continuing this investigation. An autopsy has been scheduled for Friday, (October 13), to determine the exact cause of his death.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have any other information about it is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Todd Pataray of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2382 or Todd.Pataray@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

State of Hawaii to Introduce Bill for Free Credit Freezes

The State of Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) announced the office will propose legislation directing consumer credit agencies to provide security freezes at no cost to Hawaii residents. The measure will be introduced as part of the Governor’s Administration package during the next legislative session.

Recent events involving security breaches of databases containing sensitive identifying information, such as social security numbers and addresses, has shown that repositories of consumers’ personal information continue to be at a high risk of infiltration by identity thieves.  Although many consumers have taken proactive steps to protect their personal information by requesting consumer reporting agencies to place a security freeze on their credit reports, many have not done so due to the costs associated with obtaining a security freeze.

The purpose of the bill is to enhance consumer protections by allowing consumers to request a consumer reporting agency to place, lift, or remove a security freeze on their credit reports free of charge, considering recent events involving security breaches of databases containing consumer identifying information. Consumer reporting agencies are allowed by state law to charge a fee up to $5 for each request to place, lift, or remove a security freeze.

“Our actions are based on doing the right thing to protect Hawaii’s residents,” said Governor David Ige. “When a business is designed to profit off of managing the public’s personal information, they have a good faith duty to protect that information—not solely on behalf of their shareholders but equally on behalf of their customers. This did not happen and the public is now at risk.”

“Our citizens should have the right to freeze their credit files without cost and without unnecessary hassles. The breach involving Equifax has shown that we cannot rely solely on companies to safeguard our personal information.  By encouraging people to proactively protect themselves from becoming victims of a security breach this bill will help to reduce identity theft in Hawaii,” added Steve Levins, Executive Director of the Office of Consumer Protection.

Equifax disclosed earlier this month that it suffered a breach affecting at least 143 million Americans. Information compromised in the breach includes Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, names, dates of birth, credit card numbers and addresses—creating a perfect opportunity for impacted people to become victims of identity theft.

In announcing the breach, Equifax stated it would offer free credit monitoring to everyone. The company has set up a website where people can check whether their personal information potentially was affected by the breach: http://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

The Office of Consumer Protection has since announced an investigation into the massive data breach involving the consumer reporting agency.

In view of this breach the Office of Consumer Protection is urging consumers to seriously consider placing a credit freeze on their credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. More information on Equifax’s credit monitoring and a guide to initiate a security freeze is available at http://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/equifax.

Additionally, the OCP states that consumers should:

  • Regularly request their free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on their financial accounts so their financial institution alerts them when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

Consumers with questions regarding Equifax’s data breach are encouraged to contact Equifax at 866-447-7559.

Click to read full release

Kilauea Update via USGS

Coastal breakouts put on a show

All photos courtesy of USGS

There were clear views of the delta today (October 6), with only weak plumes being produced by the few ocean entries. Multiple pāhoehoe streams and drips entered the ocean on the east side of the delta (pictured).


Over the past two weeks, there have been at least three breakouts within 100 m (330 ft) of the Kamokuna ocean entry. The western-most breakout (pictured above) had no visible surface breakouts on the cliff today (October 6), but was producing a nice cascading ‘a‘ā flow off the edge of the cliff and onto the delta. These lava cascades have been occurring often starting on October 1 just after 10:00 pm (HST), and consisted of both ‘a‘ā and pāhoehoe flows onto the delta. There was a weak plume originating from several lava entry points on the delta today, visible on the right side of the photo.
Time-lapse image of multiple lava cascades on the sea cliff on October 4 at 3:31 am (HST). Just a few of the many resulting surface flows can be seen on the delta both below the cliff and near the front, which is lit by lava and moonlight.

Time-lapse image taken on October 5 at 6:11 pm (HST), with the lava streams showing up nicely as the sun starts to go down.

A small channel flowing down the cliff to the delta creates an ‘a‘ā fan at its distal tip. Many lava falls over the past week have locally built up the height of the sea cliff and covered much of the blocky rigid cliff face.
is just visible abutting the littoral cone.

State Holds First Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission Meeting

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), in partnership with the State Office of Planning, will be holding the first-ever Hawai‘i Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission (Climate Commission) meeting on October 11 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort, Coral Ballrooms 1 & 2 from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM.

On June 6, 2017, Governor David Ige signed Act 32 Session Laws of Hawai‘i, 2017, making Hawai‘i the first state to enact legislation implementing parts of the Paris Climate Accord.  The Paris agreement was signed by 195 nations on November 4, 2016, and is the largest, concerted global effort to combat climate change to date.

Unprecedented warming of the atmosphere due to greenhouse gas emissions poses a significant threat to the people of our State.  Suzanne Case, Co-chair of the Climate Commission said, “Hawaii and our Pacific island neighbors contribute a proportionately small amount to global warming, but will experience disproportionate significant effects due to sea level rise, drought, increased storminess, and ecological changes in our marine and terrestrial environments.   The Climate Commission will work with all stakeholders to address these challenges by systematically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our resiliency to its serious impacts, utilizing the principles and contributing to the goals set by the Paris agreement.”

It is anticipated that the new Climate Commission will provide direction, facilitation, coordination and planning among state and county agencies, federal agencies, and other partners about climate change mitigation (reduction of greenhouse gases) and climate change resiliency strategies. These include, but are not limited to, sea level rise adaptation, water and agricultural security, and natural resource stewardship.  The Climate Commission will be placed under DLNR for administrative purposes and is headed jointly by the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Director of the State Office of Planning, or their designees.

This first meeting will give Commission members a status update of the State Sea Level Rise Vulnerability & Adaptation Report that is due to the State Legislature at the end of the year. It includes an open discussion for the setting of the Climate Commission’s priorities.  Governor David Ige will make an appearance.

The meeting is open to everyone. Anyone with special needs requiring accommodations or assistance, is asked to please contact the DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands at least four days prior to the public hearing.  For more information contact the OCCL at (808) 587-0377 or visit http://climateadaptation.hawaii.gov/

Community Informational Meetings on the County of Hawaii, Mass Transit Agency Island-Wide Transit Master Plan

The public is invited to Community Informational Meetings on the County of Hawaii, Mass Transit Agency Island-Wide Transit Master Plan that the county has contracted SSFM to conduct these for $500,000.

Kailua-Kona
Monday, October 9, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
West Hawaii Civic Center, Council Building A, Council Chambers
74-5044 Ana Keohokalole Highway

Kea‘au
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Kea‘au Community Center, 16-186 Pili Mua Street

Pāhoa
Thursday, October 12, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Pāhoa Neighborhood Facility, 15-2910 Kauhale Street

Waimea
Thursday, October 19, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Waimea Elementary School, 67-1225 Māmalahoa Highway

Hilo
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale, 799 Pi‘ilani Street

If you require language translation, an auxiliary aid or service (e.g., sign language interpreter, accessible parking or materials in alternative format), please contact
Jo-Anna Herkes, SSFM International at (808) 356-1260 at least five (5) days prior to the meeting date. TTY users may use TRS to contact our office.

President Trump to Visit Asia and HAWAII

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hawaii from November 3-14, 2017. The President will participate in a series of bilateral, multilateral, and cultural engagements—including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit—demonstrating his continued commitment to the alliances and partnerships of the United States in the region.

The Trump International Hotel in Waikiki

President Trump will discuss the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region to America’s prosperity and security. He will also emphasize the importance of fair and reciprocal economic ties with America’s trade partners. The President’s engagements will strengthen the international resolve to confront the North Korean threat and ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Update on North Kona Water Restrictions

The Emergency Water Restriction for North Kona remains in effect. Over the past few days there has been a water level decline in the tanks that service the general area between the Mākālei Fire station to just south of the Palani Road and Māmalahoa highway junction.

These areas include, but are not limited to, Mākālei Estates, Kona Hills, Palisades, Wainani / Lokahi Makai, Kaiminani Drive (including all side streets), Kona Acres, and Hina Lani Drive (including all side streets). Without everyone’s continued cooperation, there will be areas that will experience periodic loss of water service or lower water pressures. ALL residents and customers in North Kona must continue to restrict water use to health and safety needs (drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes).

The Department appreciates the community’s continued efforts to restrict water use during this time. As such, limited hand watering of precious plants, on occasion, is still acceptable using the following best practices:

  • Water at night to reduce evaporation.
  • Use of County’s free mulch to preserve moisture around plants. Visit the County’s website at: http://www.hawaiizerowaste.org/recycle/greenwaste/ for more information.
  • Use of rainwater from downspouts for plants.
  • Do not over-water plants.
  • Use of sprinklers (manual or automatic) for lawns and grass areas is still prohibited. This restriction also prohibits the draining and refilling of swimming pools, hot tubs, water fountains, etc.

Customers should take appropriate measures to reduce the loss of existing water in swimming pools and hot tubs, such as checking the pool for leaks and consulting a pool supplier for appropriate pool covers.  In addition, customer should ensure proper operation and maintenance of pool pump equipment.

The installation process has begun for both the Hualālai and Palani Deepwell repairs. Contractor has two (2) crews working on both repairs concurrently. At this time, the anticipated completion of Hualālai Deepwell repair is this weekend, with Palani Deepwell repair to follow shortly thereafter.

We will update you throughout this installation process as more progress is made and/or more information becomes available.

For your use, potable water can be obtained from a portable water tanker located on Hina Lani Street below Anini Street as well as water spigots along Ane Keohokalole Highway, between Kealakehe High School and Palani Road. Please bring your own drinking water containers to fill. We also recommend that residents store a sufficient amount of water for basic household needs, such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes, in the event of service disruptions.

For more information visit our website at www.hawaiidws.org. To report any observed wasteful use of water, call 961-8060 during normal business hours or email dws@hawaiidws.org. For after hour emergencies call us at 961-8790.

‘Alalā Released Into Natural Area Reserve

Six young ‘Alalā—critically endangered Hawaiian crows—were released into Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve on the Island of Hawai‘i, today. The first group of birds: two females and four males took some time to emerge from the aviary where they had been temporarily housed and they appeared to show a natural curiosity for their surroundings. Plans are to release a second group of five birds: two females and three males in mid-October from the same release aviary.

Previously, in December 2016 a reintroduction attempt was halted after challenges posed by winter storms and predation on ‘Alalā by `Io, (Hawaiian hawk). The concerted reintroduction efforts, funded by the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), San Diego Zoo Global, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have addressed those challenges by changing the timing of release to avoid winter storms, changing the release site location, releasing a social group of both males and females, and enhancing the “antipredator training program” to teach the released birds how to better respond to predators like `Io.  A high mortality rate is associated with releasing species into the wild. This is especially true for species like ‘Alalā that have been in captivity for longer periods of time. A successful conservation breeding program gives managers the flexibility to adapt their management techniques to improve successful transition to the wild. Conservation breeding programs are key tools for recovering threatened and endangered species.

For example, the nēnē, or Hawaiian goose, has returned from the brink of extinction thanks to an intensive breeding program and the dedication of many partners over decades, and this species still requires active management and monitoring. For ‘Alalā, these continued efforts are also essential to the species’ recovery.

“The recovery of the ‘Alalā is an excellent example of partners working together to do something that has never been done before.” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. “Although bringing the ‘Alalā back from the brink of extinction will take a lot of time and perseverance, many people are dedicated to saving this important species.”

Nine of the 2017 release birds were moved to a flight aviary in early 2017, to allow them to acclimate to the sights and sounds of the Hawaiian forest, and to socialize them with the two males that survived the December 2016 release. They were then transferred to a smaller aviary in the forest two weeks prior to the release. Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve is an area that conservationists of the Three Mountain Alliance and DLNR have worked for decades to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents a type of high-elevation habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline.

The outcomes of the 2016 release posed great conservation challenges to the members of the ‘Alalā Working Group, the decision-making body of the ‘Alalā Project. The next step to the recovery for ‘Alalā could only be realized through innovative thinking, consultation with outside experts, and extensive revisions to the reintroduction strategy. This was a process that took over six months to complete. “If not for the strength of partnerships in the ‘Alalā Working Group, we would not be able to move forward as efficiently as we have”, said Jackie Gaudioso-Levita, project coordinator of the ‘Alalā Project. In addition to the funding agencies and organizations of the ‘Alalā Project, cooperative partners include Kamehameha Schools, Three Mountain Alliance, U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service.

The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program. With more than 125 individuals of the species at the centers, conservationists are ready to return the birds to their native forests. ‘Alalā are an important part of the life of the Hawaiian forest, as they eat and assist with the dispersal of native plant seeds. The reintroduction of this species, which has been gone from the forest for more than a decade, is expected to play an important part in the overall recovery of the ecosystem. ‘Alalā are not only ecologically significant as dispersers of Hawai’i’s native plants, but they are also significantly revered in Hawaiian culture. At sunrise on the day of the bird’s release, a ceremony was held by members of the ʻAlalā Project to set the intentions for their return to their forest home.

“Recovering threatened and endangered species takes dedicated partnerships like The ‘Alalā Project,” said Michelle Bogardus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Geographic Team Leader for Maui Nui and Hawaii Island. “We will continue to work with our partners to protect and recover Hawaii’s threatened and endangered species.”

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case commented, “This has been an ongoing learning process for everyone, to get it right for the ‘Alalā to learn the skills they need to survive. The entire project highlights the benefits of protecting habitat and addressing threats such as predators, disease, and invasive species before populations decline so rapidly that recovery becomes even more challenging.”

Six Alala Released into Hawaii Natural Area Reserve from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Mayor Kim to Declare October “Stop the Ant” Month in Hawaii County

This Friday, September 29th, Mayor Harry Kim will sign a proclamation declaring the month of October “Stop the Ant Month” for Hawaii County.

The Big Island will be joining with the rest of the state in an effort to raise awareness about the threat of little fire ants in Hawaii. The tiny pest, first detected in Puna in 1999, has been confirmed in every district on Hawaii Island and populations have been found on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

Little fire ants are considered a threat not just because of their painful sting, but also due to their impacts on agriculture and threat to food security. Little fire ants are associated with plant pests such as aphids and mealy bugs, and have driven farmers in other Pacific islands to abandon their farms. They are also associated with cloudiness and blinding in the eyes of domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and horses.

On the Big Island, residents have been very active in working to reduce LFA populations and mitigate the threat. In the last two years alone, over 2,000 Hawaii islanders have attended training on LFA control provided by BIISC or the Hawaii Ant Lab. More than two dozen neighborhoods are currently working on a year-long plan to eradicate the ants from localized areas.

Stop the Ant month is an effort to urge all residents of the state of Hawaii to survey their property for little fire ants. Because the ants are tiny (less than 1/16th of an inch) they are difficult to see. Ants can be present for six months ore more before they reach noticeable levels, and many people mistakenly believe the ants are not present because they have not yet been stung.

To remain fire ant-free, Big Island residents should survey for fire ants using peanut butter and chopsticks 4 times a year. Infestations can be controlled, but require regular and consistent effort.

More information can be found at StopTheAnt.org.

Baby in Puna Catches Rat Lungworm Disease – Hawaii Department of Health Confirms 17th Case of Rat Lungworm Disease in Hawaii for 2017

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed an additional case of rat lungworm disease in an infant from the Puna District of Hawaii Island. This is the tenth laboratory-confirmed case of rat lungworm disease contracted on Hawaii Island this year, bringing the statewide total to 17 cases in 2017. After a detailed investigation, DOH learned the infant became infected likely after accidentally consuming a slug or snail.

“Kane’s slowly getting better but it will take time. He had RAT LUNGWORM for 9 DAYS & i took him to his doctor, urgent care & hilo medical center MULTIPLE TIMES before they finally listened to me & did a blood sample on him. Can you imagine if my baby would have died from this? & Me knowing that i did my best to tell doctors to check his blood because in my gut i could feel that it wasn’t the flu or him teething. I hope you guys feel real dumb for ignoring my instincts, i am glad that i was firm because the ER wanted to SEND US HOME AGAIN WITHOUT A BLOOD SAMPLE, but i refused to let that happen a 2nd time around. Any ways, i am grateful that he is a fighter & i am positive that he will make a full recovery.” Santini N Dylan Tauanuu

“This is an extremely unfortunate incident, with the infant currently hospitalized and receiving care,” said Aaron Ueno, Hawaii Island District Health Officer. “While the department is unable to provide specific information on this individual case, we can take this time to remind parents and caregivers about the importance of preventing infants and young children from putting slugs, snails, or other items in their mouths. We know that slugs, snails, and rats in all counties carry the parasite that can cause rat lungworm disease, so watching over young children is especially important.”

He added, “The Hawaii Island District Health Office is making a concerted effort to reach parents and caregivers of infants and young children by providing education and resources about rat lungworm disease prevention to our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and Early Intervention Services clients and our partners, including pediatricians and other healthcare providers.”

DOH recommends all parents and caregivers of infants and young children take extra precautions, including:

  • Watch infants, toddlers, and children carefully while they are playing and make sure they are not picking up slugs, snails, or other objects from the ground and putting those into their mouths.
  • Help children properly wash their hands after playing and/or on the ground using running water and soap.
  • When consuming food and drinks, close and seal containers when not in use to prevent slugs and snails from crawling inside, especially when left on or near the ground.

The public is urged to take the following precautions to prevent rat lungworm disease:

  • Carefully inspect, wash, and store produce in sealed containers, regardless of whether it came from a local retailer, farmer’s market, or backyard garden.
  • All fruits and vegetables should be washed and rubbed under running water, especially leafy greens, to remove any tiny slugs or snails.
  • Controlling snail, slug, and rat populations is one of the most important steps in fighting the spread of rat lungworm disease. Eliminate slugs, snails, and rats around properties, and especially around home gardens.
  • Farmers as well as food handlers and processors should increase diligence in controlling slugs, snails, and rats on the farm.

Rat lungworm disease (angiostrongyliasis) is contracted when a person becomes infected with the parasite Angiostrongylus cantonensis. This happens when a person accidentally consumes raw or undercooked infected slugs, snails, freshwater shrimp, land crabs or frogs. The most common symptoms include severe headaches and neck stiffness, but symptoms may vary widely among cases. The most serious cases experience neurological problems, pain, and severe disability.

More information about the signs and symptoms of rat lungworm disease may be found at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/disease_listing/rat-lungworm-angiostrongyliasis/ and https://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2017/01/RLD-rackcard-version1_06152017.pdf. The first in a series of public service announcements about rat lungworm disease prevention is posted on the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s website at http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/blog/main/rat-lungworm-information/.

Update On North Kona Emergency Water Restriction – Another Failure

The Emergency Water Restriction for North Kona remains in effect. ALL residents and customers in North Kona must continue to restrict water use to health and safety needs (drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes).

This restriction also prohibits the draining and refilling of swimming pools, hot tubs, water fountains, etc. Customers should take appropriate measures to reduce the loss of existing water in swimming pools and hot tubs, such as checking the pool for leaks and consulting a pool supplier for appropriate pool covers. In addition, customer should ensure proper operation and maintenance of pool pump equipment.

Recent well failures at Kohala Ranch Water Company (private water system) has left their community without an operating potable water source. As such, it was essential for the Department’s pump contractor to relocate equipment and respond to their critical situation. This will push back the completion of the Department’s Hualālai and Palani well repairs by approximately a week and a half.

Updates on well repairs can be found at www.hawaiidws.org.

Due to a significant level of overall compliance, water levels in the tanks have remained stable. The Department appreciates the community’s efforts to restrict water use during this time. Therefore, limited hand watering of precious plants, on occasion, is still acceptable using the following best practices:

  • Water at night to reduce evaporation.
  • Use of County’s free mulch to preserve moisture around plants. Visit the County’s website at: http://www.hawaiizerowaste.org/recycle/gr eenwaste/ for more information.
  • Use of rainwater from downspouts for plants.
  • Do not over-water plants.
  • Use of sprinklers (manual or automatic) for lawns and grass areas is still prohibited.

For other unique situations, please contact the Department to discuss possible options. Without everyone’s continued cooperation, there will be areas that will experience periodic loss of water service or lower water pressures.

We also recommend that residents store a sufficient amount of water for basic household needs, such as drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes, in the event of service disruptions.

For your use, potable water can be obtained from a water “buffalo” located on Hina Lani Street below Anini Street as well as water spigots along Ane Keohokalole Highway, between Kealakehe High School and Palani Road. Please bring your own drinking water containers to fill.

For more information visit our website at www.hawaiidws.org. To report any observed wasteful use of water, call 961-8060 during normal business hours or email dws@hawaiidws.org. For after hour emergencies call us at 961-8790.

Man Achieves Goal to Visit ALL 59 National Parks

When Dave Parker entered Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Tuesday night, he accomplished his lifelong dream to visit the 59 iconic national parks in the U.S.

Chief Ranger John Broward shakes hands with Dave Parker of McLean, VA who completed his quest to visit all 59 National Parks on Wednesday. (All photos NPS Photos by Janice Wei)

“To see Kīlauea erupt is indescribable and it’s just spectacular to see,” Parker said. “It’s the reason we came here,” he said.

On Wednesday, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park surprised Parker with a “59ers” Certificate of Achievement, signed by National Park Service Acting Director, Mike Reynolds. The certificate was presented by Acting Superintendent and Chief Ranger John Broward, who congratulated Parker in front of visitors and staff at the Kīlauea Visitor Center.

Dave Parker poses for a photo in front of an interpretive display in the Kīlauea Visitor Center of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

“It’s uplifting that Mr. Parker made it a priority to see all 59 of the iconic national parks,” Broward said. “Park visitors help steward our public lands, and by appreciating them, they protect them. And Dave Parker, you couldn’t have a better last name,” he said.

Parker’s love for national parks blossomed at the tender age of 14, when his parents took him to his first parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. His family camped, rode horses, hiked the trails and watched Yellowstone’s famous geyser, Old Faithful, erupt.

Now 77, Parker, his wife Carol, and friends Red and Sheri Cavaney, will spend a few nights at Volcano House and explore the eruptions of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. They enjoyed a ranger talk about the volcanic origins of the Hawaiian Islands, and a guided tour with the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park (FHVNP).

Left to right: Elizabeth Fien, Executive Director of the Friends of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; Dave Parker “59er”; , Margot Griffith, Executive Director of the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association; and Hawaii Volcanoes’ Acting Superintendent and Chief Ranger John Broward smile for a photo in the Kīlauea Visitor Center.

The park’s non-profit supporting partners, the FHVNP and the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association, presented the Parkers and friends with commemorative items including ball caps, T shirts, pins, a gift certificate for The Rim restaurant, and other mementos and educational items to help them enjoy and discover the park.

“There are many ways to support your parks,” Parker said. “All parks have organizations that support them that you can donate to. You can volunteer and give back with your time. It’s an important investment to make for the survival of public lands and our future generations,” he said.

The auspicious visit was Parker’s fifth time to Hawai‘i, and his first to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. During his early career working for the Dept. of Commerce in Wash., D.C., he helped promote travel to the U.S., and had close ties to the Hawai‘i visitor industry. He and his wife live in McLean, VA.

Left to right: Sheri Cavaney, Dave Parker, Carol Parker and Red Cavaney, smile for photos in the Kīlauea Visitor Center on Wednesday. Dave is wearing an NPS Centennial T-shirt listing all 59 national parks.

The National Park Service has more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

Mayor Kim Issues Emergency Proclamation Regarding North Kona Water Emergency

Mayor Harry Kim issued an Emergency Proclamation on Wednesday regarding the North Kona water emergency.

His statement is as follows:

“The Emergency Proclamation which was officially signed today was initially intended to be completed in August.  The purpose of this Proclamation is to ensure that all administrative readiness is established by the County in the event that assistance will be needed from the State government.

This Proclamation also allows County government to bypass certain procurement policies in the event that emergency purchases must be made. This also includes the use of emergency funds for the use of the Department of Water Supply’s needs.”

Click on the link to access the Emergency Proclamation:

http://records.co.hawaii.hi.us/weblink/1/doc/89509/Page1.aspx

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement On Trump Administration Decision To End DACA

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI -02) today released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard stated:

“President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is wrong. It will break up families and punish young people who were brought to this country as minors through no choice or fault of their own. These are people who have grown up in the United States, and who know no other country to be their home. DACA transformed the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of young people, in Hawaii and across the country. Because of DACA they’ve been able to go to college, find a job, support their family, serve their country, and live free from the constant fear of deportation.

“In my home state of Hawaii, DACA has allowed more than 600 young people to remain legally in our country and contribute to our economy and society, including a member of my staff who came to the United States as a minor from Zimbabwe. Last week on Maui, I had the opportunity to hear from some of Hawaii’s DREAMers and hear their heart-wrenching stories about living in fear and in the shadows until DACA was put into effect. They cried as they shared their stories of the opportunity and freedom they have experienced because of DACA, and the fear of uncertainty in what lies ahead with the prospects of being forced to leave the only home they’ve ever known. Congress must act now to enact a permanent solution for these DREAMers and pass the bipartisan DREAM Act now.”

Democratic Party of Hawai‘i Statement on Trump Rescinding DACA

In response to the Trump’s administration decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created by President Obama in 2012 to protect immigrants who came to this country as children, Democratic Party of Hawai‘i (DPH) Chair, Tim Vandeveer, released the following statement:

“Today, the Trump administration turned its back on hard-working immigrant families and students. Donald Trump’s actions force thousands of immigrants back into the shadows, tears families and communities apart, and is a devastating blow to the nearly 800,000 young immigrants who only know this country as their home. Trump and his Republicans are choosing to further divide our country, create fear in our communities and hurt our economy. Donald Trump’s cruel actions today bend to the wishes of extremists in his own party. “

“In Hawai‘i, we know better because we are defined by our diversity and guided by Aloha. Democrats proudly stand by the estimated 558 DACA beneficiaries in Hawai‘i and will fight to protect our abiding values of liberty, social justice, economic justice, protection of the environment, and compassion and respect for the dignity and worth of the individual. We will continue to work to fix our broken immigration system and support the DREAMers who are contributing to our economy and society.”

The DPH will be hosting a phone bank to members of Congress and sign-making from 2pm – 4pm today at the DPH Headquarters located at 627 South St. #105 in Honolulu.

Following the phone bank, members will participate in a sign-waving in support of DACA recipients and DREAMers at the Federal Building located at 300 Ala Moana (Ewa corner where Ala Moana Blvd meets Halekauwila St) from 4:30pm – 5:30pm.

Statement From Hawaii Gas on Honomu Propane Tanker Accident

The fire on the propane tanker was extinguished at approximately 5:30 am, Monday. Hawaii Gas and fire officials at the scene on Saturday night had decided it was safer to let the fire burn off the remaining contents of the tanker.

Photo via Mari Casil Halsted

Police have finished their investigation at the scene. The tanker is being removed and the highway will be reopened shortly. (Editors note – It has now been reopened)

On Saturday, Sept 2, a Hawaii Gas propane tanker was struck by an SUV on Highway 19 near Honomu on the Hamakua coast. The impact flipped the tanker and caused the propane leak and fire.

The propane truck driver was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where he is hospitalized. Two of the three occupants in the SUV were treated at the scene but authorities confirmed that one of the passengers had died.

Hawaii Gas is partnering closely with the police and fire departments to complete their investigation as well as conducting an investigation of our own.

We are saddened by the loss of life and our hearts go out to those affected by this tragic accident.

Crime in Hawaii at Record Low Level in 2016

Attorney General Douglas S. Chin announced today the release of the State of Hawaii’s annual Uniform Crime Report, Crime in Hawaii, 2016.

Attorney General Doug Chin

The report shows that in Calendar Year 2016, a total of 45,805 Index Crimes* were reported in the State of Hawaii, yielding a rate of 3,206 offenses per 100,000 resident population, the lowest on record since statewide data collection began in 1975. Hawaii’s Index Crime rate in 2016 was 6.2% below the rate reported in 2015, and 27.1% below the rate reported a decade earlier (2007).

Attorney General Chin said, “The record low crime statistics in 2016 highlight the outstanding work of law enforcement throughout the State and in all four counties. These numbers also help refute the false narrative from President Trump’s administration that crime in our country is at an all-time high.”

A total of 3,452 violent Index Crimes were reported statewide in 2016, yielding a rate of 241.6 offenses per 100,000 residents. Hawaii’s violent Index Crime rate in 2016 was 2.0% below the rate reported in 2015, and 12.5% below the rate reported in 2007.

There were 42,353 property Index Crimes reported statewide in 2016, yielding a record low rate of 2,965 offenses per 100,000 residents. Hawaii’s property Index Crime rate in 2016 was 6.5% below the rate reported in 2015, and 28.0% below the rate reported in 2007.

Other highlights of Crime in Hawaii, 2016 include:

  • The rate of reported offenses for two violent Index Crimes decreased in the State of Hawaii in 2016:  robbery, by 9.0%; and aggravated assault, by 2.3%. The rate of reported offenses for the other two violent Index Crimes increased:  murder, by 20.9%; and rape, by 11.9%.
  • Rates of reported offenses decreased for two property Index Crime categories: burglary, by 12.0%; and larceny-theft, by 6.6%. The motor vehicle theft rate increased by 1.3%.

* Including the violent Index Crimes of murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, and tracked separately, human trafficking, commercial sex acts and human trafficking, involuntary servitude; the property Index Crimes of burglary, motor vehicle theft, and larceny-theft; and, tracked separately, arson.

  • The number of Index Crime arrests fell by 20.1% statewide in 2016. Arrests for violent Index Crimes decreased 13.9%, and arrests for property Index Crimes decreased 21.7%. Crime in Hawaii, 2016 also provides state and county data on the age, gender, and race/ethnicity of arrestees.
  • The City & County of Honolulu’s total Index Crime rate, violent crime rate, and property crime rate all decreased by approximately 2.5% in 2016, and its burglary rate fell to a record low level.
  • In 2016, Hawaii County’s total Index Crime rate and property crime rate decreased 24.1% and 26.5%, respectively, to reach their record low levels, and the violent crime rate rose 16.3%. Hawaii County’s burglary rate in 2016 was also at its record low level.
  • Maui County reported record low rates for total Index Crimes and property crime in 2016, with decreases of 5.6% and 4.3%, respectively, as compared to 2015. Maui County’s violent crime rate fell by 19.1% in 2016, and its burglary and larceny-theft rates decreased to record low levels.
  • Kauai County’s total Index Crime rate decreased 5.3% in 2016, reaching its lowest level on record. The violent crime rate decreased 24.1% and the property crime rate dropped 7.8%, also reaching a record low level. In 2016, Kauai County also reported its record low burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft rates.
  • Thirty-five murders were reported statewide in 2016, marking a 20.7% increase compared to the prior year. Males comprised 91% of the alleged murder offenders and 66% of the victims in 2016. Roughly two-thirds (68.6%) of the murder victims knew the offenders, and firearms were used in about half (51.4%) of the murders.
  • Of the 2,851 murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults reported statewide in 2016, 43.9% were committed using strongarm weapons (i.e., hands, fists, and feet); 25.2% with “other” or unknown weapons; 18.3% with knives or other edged weapons; and 12.6% with firearms.
  • Over $80 million in property value was reported stolen in the State of Hawaii in 2016, down 5.9% from the figure reported in 2015. Of the total value stolen in 2016, 32.2% was recovered, marking an increase from the 29.5% that was recovered in 2015.
  • No police officers were killed in the line of duty in the State of Hawaii during 2016, but 373 officers were assaulted, yielding a rate of 12.5 assaults per 100 officers. Crime in Hawaii, 2016 also provides data on the time of day, type of assignment, and the weapons used in assaults against police officers.
  • On October 31, 2016, a total of 2,995 police officers and 784 civilians were employed by the four county police departments, denoting a 0.4% increase in workforce from the figures reported from October 31, 2015.

 Record Crime Rates*
State of Hawaii and Counties, 2016

State of Hawaii

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.
  • Record low larceny-theft rate.

City & County of Honolulu

  • Record low burglary rate.

Hawaii County

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.

Maui County

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.
  • Record low larceny-theft rate.

Kauai County

  • Record low total Index Crime rate.
  • Record low property crime rate.
  • Record low burglary rate.
  • Record low larceny-theft rate.
  • Record low motor vehicle theft rate.

* Within jurisdiction, since the start of statewide data collection in 1975.

Copies of the complete Crime in Hawaii, 2016 report can be downloaded from the Research and Statistics section of Attorney General’s Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division web site at http://ag.hawaii.gov/cpja/rs/.