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    January 2019
    S M T W T F S
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Community Forum on Invasive Species and Plant Pest Issues in West Hawaii

Hawaii House Representative Nicole Lowen is hosting a public forum for West Hawaii residents on Tuesday, November 10th to learn more about invasive species issues that are affecting homes, agriculture, and native forests on Hawaii Island.


Topics will include fire ants, coqui frogs, coffee berry borer beetle, ohia wilt, and other invasive species and plant pest issues.

A panel of experts will include representatives from the Department of Agriculture, the Invasive Species Council, the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, and the University of Hawaii. Panelists will each give a brief presentation, followed by an opportunity for moderated questions from the audience.

Panelist include: Neil J. Reimer, Ph.D., Robert T. Curtiss, Christy Martin, J.B. Friday Ph.D., and Springer Kaye and will be held at the West Hawaii Civic Center – Council Chambers (Building A) from 6:00p.m. – 7:30 p.m. with the doors opening at 5:30.

Hawaii Invasive Species Council Approves Fiscal Year 2014 Budget

The interagency Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) has approved a budget of $2.55 million for fiscal year 2014 to support statewide programs to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in Hawaii, as well as management and public outreach efforts.

HISC members receive Governor’s proclamation for Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week in March. From left: DOH Deputy Director Gary Gill, DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, UH CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo, HDOA Chairperson Russell Kokubun, DOT David Rodriguez.

HISC members receive Governor’s proclamation for Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week in March. From left: DOH Deputy Director Gary Gill, DLNR Chairperson William J. Aila, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, UH CTAHR Dean Maria Gallo, HDOA Chairperson Russell Kokubun, DOT David Rodriguez.

The HISC voting members are the directors or designees of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Department of Agriculture (HDOA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and the University of Hawaii (UH).

“Interagency collaboration and coordination are key components of this administration’s strategy to address invasive species,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “We are also increasing our capacity to protect Hawaii from the threat of invasive species. I am pleased to see a return of general funding from the state Legislature to the HISC. This funding directly supports on-the-ground, community-based and cost-effective programs across the state.”

The HISC funds a variety of efforts to address statewide invasive species priorities through an annual competitive grants process. In fiscal year 2014, the HISC will provide support to projects including the county-based Invasive Species Committees for early detection and rapid response, the Hawaii Ant Lab for preventing the spread of stinging little fire ant, response plans to protect native ohia from an invasive rust, community outreach and education programs in every county, ballast water and biofouling coordination to prevent aquatic invasive species, and scoping for improved biological control facilities. (For the full list and more details on HISC-funded projects, visit: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/hisc/projects/fy14/)

“Our priority has been finding a balance between responding to new threats, such as invasive species arriving with Japanese tsunami marine debris or axis deer on Hawaii Island, while at the same time supporting the maintenance of core detection and response capacity statewide,” said Dr. Josh Atwood, coordinator for the HISC. “This has been a particularly difficult challenge as the HISC does not have a dedicated funding source, and instead has received funds each year at the discretion of the Legislature and the DLNR. The amount of funding currently available from these sources is less than what is needed to adequately support vital programs, and critical positions may be lost.”

The HISC was created in 2003 when the Legislature declared invasive species as “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.” The HISC first received funding in fiscal year 2005 with at total of $4 million in general funds and special funds through the Natural Area Reserve Fund. Since fiscal year 2009, the HISC budget dropped to below $2 million without general funds.

“We are dedicated to working across departments and with partners to find solutions as we face increasing challenges posed by invasive species and decreasing support from federal agencies,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We hope to continue to build our state capacity and restore full funding to the HISC. We thank the Legislature for their additional support in general funding this year and plan to work together on this important issue that affects all of us.”


More Funding Needed for Statewide Invasive Species Programs

The interagency Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC) has approved a $1.8 million annual budget for fiscal year 2013 to support statewide programs promoting invasive species prevention, control and outreach.

State Department of Agriculture Chairperson Russell S. Kokubun, co-chair of HISC, joined Office of Planning Director Jesse Souki and Department of Health Deputy Director for the Environment Gary Gill in approving the annual budget at the council’s August 3, 2012, meeting. Senator Clarence Nishihara (Dist. 18), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, was also present to review the budget.

“Invasive species pose real threats to our agriculture, environment, economy and public health,” Kokubun said. “We need to make sure that we spend the available funds on programs that have the greatest impact on the most serious threats to our community.”

Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Chairperson William J. Aila, Jr., also HISC co-chair, added: “Hawai‘i’s environment is the backbone of our visitor industry and way of life. The recipients of this year’s HISC funds are experts in assessing and managing environmental threats. We will continue to look for ways to support their critical efforts.”

Funding awarded for fiscal year 2013 will include support for:

  • The Hawai‘i Ant Lab for research and response to infestations of aggressive fire ant species
  • Research on biological control methods for the highly destructive plant species Miconia and Christmas berry
  • A statewide coordinator to monitor for aquatic invasive species that may arrive in ballast water
  • The island-based Invasive Species Committees (ISCs), which monitor and control a variety of harmful species.

The ISCs were formally recognized earlier this year by Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 19) for their outstanding work across the state in responding to pests like Miconia, fire-prone fountain grass, coqui frogs, and mongoose.

The HISC also provided two awards this year relating to axis deer. The first was to the Big Island Invasive Species Committee, a partnership working with DLNR to eradicate axis deer from Hawai‘i Island. If incipient axis deer populations were to expand there, it would be extremely detrimental to the natural resources and economy of the island.

The second award was to the Maui Axis Deer Working Group, a collaboration of farmers,

natural resource managers and staff from the County of Maui and DLNR, which has the goal of reducing the number of deer on Maui.

The funding from the HISC will provide a full-time coordinator to implement a population assessment on Maui and explore options for reducing the harmful impacts of axis deer on agriculture and human health, including collisions with automobiles.  Kenneth Yamamura, agricultural specialist for Maui County, estimates that axis deer have cost farmers, ranchers and resorts on Maui more than $1.6 million over the last two years in damage and control costs.

“We are trying to maintain the progress that our core programs have made in each county, while at the same time responding to new invasive species issues as they arise, such as mongoose on Kaua‘i or axis deer on the Big Island,” said Dr. Joshua Atwood, coordinator for the HISC. “Unfortunately, the amount of funding needed to deal with the large number of invasive species problems across the state simply isn’t there.”

While the HISC received nearly $3 million in requests for funding this year, the estimated amount of total funding needed to achieve the organizational goals of this year’s applicants was more than $13 million annually.

The HISC was created in 2003, when the Hawai‘i State Legislature declared invasive species “the single greatest threat to Hawai‘i’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawai‘i’s people.” Since 2009, however, a reduction in general fund appropriations has decreased the total funds available annually to the HISC from $4 million to $1.8 million. That number may decrease further, as a temporary authorization to receive funds for invasive species control from the Legacy Land Conservation Program expires after the current fiscal year.

“The Council members agree that more funds are needed to protect Hawai‘i from the impacts of invasive species. As an interagency initiative, the HISC seeks to fill gaps between agencies and respond to annual priorities, but with limited funding, it will become more difficult to get the job done,” said Aila.