DLNR Proposes to Restore and Manage Watershed in Pu’u Maka’ala Natural Area Reserve

Yesterday the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a management plan for Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve. The Land Board also approved Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) issuance of a finding of no significant impact for the final environmental assessment for the plan.

Puu Makaala Forest Trail

Puu Makaala Forest Trail

“This management plan is part of the DLNR’s goal to increase protection of Hawaii’s forested watersheds, and to protect and restore rare native Hawaiian animals and plants such as the ‘I‘iwi, the Mauna Loa Silversword and the ‘Alalâ,” said William J. Aila, Jr., BLNR Chairperson.

The 18,706 acre reserve, on the east side of the island of Hawai‘i, was established in 1981 to protect native wet koa and ‘ohi‘a forests and habitat for rare species of plants and animals. Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve (NAR) is managed by the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and the overall management goal is to protect, maintain, and enhance the reserve’s unique natural, cultural, and geological resources.

The plan outlines specific actions needed to protect and enhance native Hawaiian ecosystems in the reserve including management of invasive species and restoration of rare and endangered plants and animals. Public access is allowed in the reserve and the management plan includes the enhancement of public access through trail improvements. New interpretive hiking opportunities will provide opportunities for the public to learn more about the reserve, its unique native species and ecosystems and ongoing management activities.

The plan discusses collaborating closely with partners, including Kûlani Correctional Facility, to achieve management goals. The Department of Public Safety is planning on reopening Kûlani in 2014.

“Before Kulani closed in 2009, inmate conservation worklines helped DLNR work to remove many invasive plant species, restoring parts of the reserve to its natural beauty,” said Department of Public Safety Director Ted Sakai. “This collaboration resulted in substantial cost-savings for the state and, in turn, gave inmates valuable education and work training opportunities. We are pleased to once again partner with the DLNR and reestablish these successful community service programs.”

The reserve is part of the state’s Natural Area Reserves System, created in 1971 by the Hawai‘i State Legislature to preserve and protect areas which support communities of the natural flora and fauna, as well as geological sites, both for the enjoyment of future generations and to provide baselines against which changes to Hawaii’s environment can be measured. The Natural Area Reserve System protects the best remaining ecosystems in the state, and actively manages them to preserve the natural heritage of Hawai‘i.

The Natural Area Reserve System presently consists of 20 reserves on five islands, encompassing more than 123,000 acres of the state’s most unique ecosystems. These diverse areas range from marine and coastal environments to alpine desert, and from fresh lava flows to wet forests and serve as habitat for rare native plants and animals, many of which are on the verge of extinction. The Natural Area Reserve System includes important watersheds and also contributes to the natural scenic beauty of Hawai‘i.

Fifteen species of federally listed endangered plants occur in or near Pu‘u Maka‘ala NAR, and DOFAW is planning to use the reserve as a key recovery site for these species. Pu‘u Maka‘ala is also home to endangered forest birds, the Nene and ‘Io. This area may also be considered as a potential future release site for captive-raised Hawaiian crow, or ‘Alalâ.

Click here for The management plan and final environmental assessment

For more information about the project contact Lisa Hadway, Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawai‘i Branch Manager at (808) 974-4221.

 

Volunteer with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on National Public Lands Day

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park encourages the public to mālama ‘āina on Sat., Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day – by volunteering to remove invasive Himalayan ginger in the park, or fountain grass in Ocean View.

Park entrance fees are waived for National Public Lands Day, and the annual event is the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the United States.

Stewardship at the Summit. Join volunteers Paul and Jane Field, and remove Himalayan ginger from the summit of Kīlauea.  While pretty and fragrant, Himalayan (also called kāhili) ginger is one of the most invasive plants in the park, and on earth.

Volunteer Marilyn Nicholson helps eliminate invasive Himalayan or kāhili  ginger near Halema‘uma‘u Trail in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo NPS

Volunteer Marilyn Nicholson helps eliminate invasive Himalayan or kāhili ginger near Halema‘uma‘u Trail in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Photo NPS

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature includes it on the “100 of the World’s Worst Invasive Alien Species” list. The park strives to protect the habitat of native and endemic Hawaiian rainforest plants, but Himalayan ginger displaces and replaces the native rainforest understory, making it impossible for many native plants to grow, including pa‘iniu (a Hawaiian lily), ‘ama‘u fern, and others. Wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. Bring a hat, raingear, snacks, and water. Loppers/gloves provided.  No advance registration required.
When: Sat., Sept. 28, 9 a.m. to noon
Where: Meet the Fields at Kīlauea Visitor Center

Fountain Grass Removal in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates (HOVE). Fountain grass is a highly flammable bunch grass native to North Africa.

Fountain grass dominating this lava landscape in the Ka‘ū District. Photo NPS

Fountain grass dominating this lava landscape in the Ka‘ū District. Photo NPS

This fire-promoting plant spreads quickly, and is one of the few invasive species that can colonize young lava flows that would otherwise serve as natural firebreaks. In 2005, this noxious weed contributed to the spread of a 25,000-acre wildfire that forced evacuation of Waikoloa Village. Fountain grass is especially problematic in leeward areas on Hawai‘i Island, such as the HOVE community, because it increases the risk of wildfire. Volunteers will work with the HOVE community association, Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and park ecologist David Benitez. Bring lunch, water, hat and sunscreen. The first 30 volunteers will get a free pass to return another day and enjoy the park at their leisure. For more information and to register, contact David Benitez at 808-985-6085, or email david_benitez@nps.gov.  

When: Sat., Sept. 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Meet at the Ocean View Community Center at 9 a.m.

 

State Budget Funds Forest Watershed Protection

 

Protecting mauka forest areas remains top priority for DLNR

The state budget bill, signed into law on June 18 by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, significantly increases funding for forest protection in Hawaii.

waterfall

“The Department of Land and Natural Resources Watershed Initiative remains a top priority and will continue to move forward,”said Gov. Abercrombie. “Protecting our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world, is essential to the future of agriculture, industry, and our environment in Hawaii. It is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries.”

The state budget includes $3.5 million in general funds and $5 million in general obligation bond funding in fiscal year 2014 for watershed protection, as well as an additional $2.5 million in bonds in fiscal year 2015.

The budget also includes:

  • $3.5 million in the fiscal biennium to protect Hawaii’s largest remaining tract of dryland forest, located in Manuka, in Ka’u district.
  • Additional positions for natural resource managers and planners for on-the-ground forest protection projects.
  • $750,000 in both FY14 and FY15 for the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC), an interagency collaboration of state department directors that addresses statewide invasive species issues such as invasive plants and animals that threaten native forests and their ability to provide water. HISC funds support a variety of projects, including control of invasive miconia on Kauai, Oahu and Maui, and the removal of axis deer from Hawaii Island.

“We now can make substantial progress towards our goal of doubling the level of forest protection in a decade,”said William Aila Jr., chairperson of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). “The bond funding alone funds the protection of more than 40,000 acres in watershed forests and dryland ecosystems statewide.”

Despite the importance of forests for providing Hawaii’s drinking water, more than half of these forests have been lost, and the rest are threatened by expanding populations of invasive species. Below are examples of prioritized funding to protect and restore critical watershed forests.

On Oahu, funding is provided to construct fences to protect more than 1,000 acres from feral pigs in the Koolau mountains. These projects are located mauka of Wahiawa and Punaluu, in the rainiest areas on Oahu. Public access will be maintained for recreational and gathering purposes. Pedestrian gates and step-overs (steps to allow people to go over a fence)) will be provided along fence corridors to ease access in and out of the protected areas.

Multiple projects were funded on Hawaii Island, including:

  • A project to plant native mamane trees at a 5,200-acre restoration site on the northern slope of Mauna Kea will be funded. Nearly 50,000 trees have already been planted in the last three years with the help of a thriving volunteer program.
  • Projects in remote forests of Kohala and Kau will be funded that are critical for supplying drinking and irrigation water for these regions. Comprehensive management actions include invasive species control, construction of protective barriers, and restoration of native species, including several that are endangered. Public access will be maintained for recreational and gathering purposes. Pedestrian gates and step-overs will be provided along fence corridors to ease access in and out of the protected areas. The DLNR and partners have engaged hundreds of community organizations and individuals to plan and assist with these projects. This includes involving hunters to assist with initial animal removal and opening new accesses to adjacent forests.
  • Capital improvement projects will benefit protection of the largest contiguous tract of dryland forest on Hawaii Island in Manuka. The ohia forest also harbors many rare native plants.

On Maui, projects were selected to protect more than 9,000 acres on the north, east and south slopes of Haleakala. On the south slope, more than 90 percent of the native koa forests have been lost to grazing from hooved animals such as goats, cattle and deer. Forests can re-grow in areas protected from hooved animals, aided by efforts to remove invasive plants.

Two projects on Kauai have been selected to protect more than 3,000 acres. These projects are located in the Alakai, the rainiest area in Kauai. These forests provide water for the Waimea and Hanalei districts. Threats to this region include invasive plants such as ginger and Australian tree fern, and damage from feral pigs and goats.

# # #

 

Mary Begier and Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Presented With Community Hero Awards

Hawaii Invasive Species Council Recognizes Commitment to Malama Mauna Kea

Hawaii residents and visitors alike appreciate the wonderful diversity of life in the islands.  Invasive species however, threaten this diversity and are both harmful to the environment, economy, or human health; and are not native to the area where they are a problem.

Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week is intended to increase awareness of such concerns among visitors, residents, elected officials, and other community leaders while recognizing the outstanding contributions coming from all segments of society in protecting Hawaii from invasive species.

Senator Malama Solomon and  Mary Begier

Senator Malama Solomon and Mary Begier

Senator Malama Solomon presented Mary Begier and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce with the 2013 Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) Community Hero Award in a ceremony on Monday, March 4th during the first annual Hawaii Invasive Species Council Award ceremony at the State Capitol Auditorium. The Community Hero Award recognizes a community member or community based group that has been a shining example of dedication to prevent or manage invasive species.  Mary Begier and the Hawaii Island Chamber shine brightly in their commitment to help support the Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM),  University of Hawaii at Hilo in  its efforts to implement the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

The CMP is an integrated planning tool for resource management for the UH Management Areas on Mauna Kea including the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, the mid-level facilities at Hale Pohaku and the Summit Access Road.  During the approval process of the CMP, Begier and the Chamber pledged to become more involved in community-based stewardship of Mauna Kea and assisted the OMKM  by rallying its members with a call for volunteers for invasive weed pulls beginning in March 2012.  Thus launching OMKM’s community invasive species control program.
In 2012, the invasive weed pull program included over 110 volunteer days totaling more than 800 volunteer hours removing several hundred bags of invasive weeds  (fireweed, mullein, telegraph weed, and others)  from the mid-level facilities at Hale Pohaku and along the summit access road corridor.

“Stakeholder participation is critical to our programs to malama Mauna Kea and is an effective tool to help us manage the resources within UH’s managed lands on Mauna Kea. Mary Begier and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce have supported our efforts  from day one. When we started the discussion on engaging volunteers, they quickly pitched the business community and helped us raise awareness and understanding in addressing invasive species management issues,” said Office of Mauna Kea Management Director Stephanie Nagata.

“The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce members volunteer and collaborate as advocates for those things that make Hawaii Island a great place to live,” said Vaughn Cook, HICC President. “Mary is one of those members who gets involved and keeps us all mindful of our community commitments.  As a chamber, we supported the development of the CMP. Mary’s determination to help the University of Hawaii successfully manage their lands on Mauna Kea quickly spread and today, many Hawaii Island Chamber members continue to volunteer and kokua Mauna Kea.”

In total, more than thirty-seven statewide nominations, including individuals and organizations were submitted for the 2013 HISC Awards. Mary Begier, and Office of Mauna Kea Management Director Stephanie Nagata attended the award presentation.

Hawaii Entomologists Ramp Up Production of Moth to Control Toxic Fireweed

Hawaii ranchers are hopeful that a small beige-colored moth will be able to control the fireweed, an invasive plant that is toxic to livestock and has caused havoc on the state’s prime pasturelands. For more than 13 years, entomologists and researchers at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) have literally searched the world for a natural enemy of the weed that would be safe to release in Hawaii. The most promising turned out to be an insect called Secusio extensa (Arctiidae), the Madagascan Fireweed Moth, the larvae of which voraciously eats the leaves of fireweed.

Madagascan Fireweed Moth

Madagascan Fireweed Moth

It is believed that the weed came to the islands in hydromulch material imported from Australia where it is a serious pest. HDOA entomologists on Oahu have begun stepping up production of the moth after receiving the long-awaited approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which came on Dec. 6, 2012. The state approved the release of the moth in 2010, but also required approval of a federal permit.  The first release of the biocontrol insects is slated for early 2013, depending on the rearing of the insects in the laboratory.

“Years of extensive research have been conducted on this biocontrol program,” said Russell S. Kokubun, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.  “Control of this weed is one of the more important issues to Hawaii ranchers, and we are hopeful that it can be controlled by this natural process.”

Fireweed Plant

Fireweed Plant

“Fireweed has become an even more aggressive pest during this extended period of drought,” said
Dr. Tim Richards, president of Kahua Ranch on Hawaii Island. “So it’s even more critical to our industry’s sustainability that an effective control prevents additional loss of productive pasturelands.”

In 1999, HDOA began looking for a biological control for the pretty but deadly plant with yellow daisy-like flowers, also known as Madagascar Ragwort. It is estimated that the weed has infested more than 850,000 acres, mainly on Maui and Hawaii Island. Although there are effective pesticides, it is expensive and impractical to use across hundreds and thousands of acres.  Besides Hawaii, fireweed has spread through many parts of the world killing animals in Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Japan. Secusio will be the first biocontrol agent to be released against Madagascar fireweed in the world.

HDOA’s exploratory entomologist, Dr. Mohsen Ramadan, traveled to Australia, South Africa and Madagascar in 1999 and returned with 14 insects and one fungus, which were researched and tested under quarantine conditions.  Some were found to be ineffective, while others were found to harm other native or beneficial plants.  Dr. Ramadan traveled to the region again in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2012 to look for more potential biocontrols for fireweed and other pests, such as coffee berry borer, small hive beetle and the protea mealybug.

Madagascan Fireweed Moth Larvae

Madagascan Fireweed Moth Larvae

Entomologists and staff in Honolulu were busy not only trying to keep the quarantined pests alive, but it also meant that they also had to grow the fireweed to host the moths.  HDOA is also testing four other potential natural enemies of fireweed, each which appear to attack different parts of the plant.

“Until now, we have been able to keep generations of this moth alive under quarantine conditions,” said Darcy Oishi, section chief of the Biocontrol Section. “We have now switched gears and begun to ramp up production to increase the chances of successful control of fireweed. With the support of the ranchers and others, we hope to release more than one million moths this year.”

“Biological control of pests can be the most efficient and cost-effective method to manage significant pests,” added Dr. Neil Reimer, manager of HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch.  “Since 1975, HDOA has released 51 biocontrol agents and all have been successful and none have been found to attack anything but the target pest or weed.”

“Fireweed has proven to be highly invasive and in certain areas has reduced the forage production by as much as 60 percent,” said Dr. Mark Thorne, state range specialist with the University of Hawaii – College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “With the pending release of Secusio, ranchers will have a valuable tool that will help them recover some of the economic value of their pastures.”

Fireweed Flower

Fireweed Flower

Biological control, which utilizes natural plant enemies and/or diseases, is needed in natural and managed ecosystems as a tool for managing invasive plant species that are too widespread and expensive to control using herbicides and/or mechanical removal methods. Although challenging to implement, effective biocontrol can provide long-term, large-scale, highly selective control of otherwise prolific weeds. Current research methods thoroughly test potential biocontrol agents prior to release to ensure that they only attack the target weed and not other native or beneficial plants or animals.

Hawaii continues to be a leader in biocontrol of pests. The Kingdom of Hawaii was a world leader in biocontrol with successful introductions of a beetle to control cottony cushion scale in 1890. After Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1900, biological control methods progressed with the introduction of several insect species to control lantana in 1902. Since then, researchers in Hawaii continue to be internationally recognized in biological control of weeds and plant pests and have collaborated with colleagues worldwide on the biological control of invasive weeds and pests such as miconia, fountain grass, banana poka, ivy gourd, gorse, wiliwili gall wasp and nettle caterpillar, among others.

Has Another Snake Arrived on the Big Island?

On Friday, January 26, 2007, a snake was found at Hilo Harbor.

“A snake that was found at Hilo Harbor last Friday (1/26) has been identified as a chequered keelback snake, also known as an Asiatic water snake (Xenochrophis piscator).  The non-venomous snake is commonly found in Asia and the East Indies, but not common in the pet trade in the U.S.  It is not known how the snake arrived in Hawaii.

This is the snake that was found in Hilo Harbor back in 2007

This is the snake that was found in Hilo Harbor back in 2007

On Friday, a construction worker working at Pier 2 in Hilo Harbor saw the two-foot-long snake under the pier and was able to kill it. The incident happened at about 9:30 a.m. and inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture were called to pick up the snake.  The snake was flown to Oahu late Friday afternoon and identified yesterday by a herpetologist at the Bishop Museum….”

More here: Snake found at Hilo Harbor

Someone just sent me the following message TODAY:

“Hi Damon, have you heard anything about brown tree snake sightings at Hilo bay front?…

(I replied that I hadn’t)

Please bring it to light for the public’s sake! Traps have been setup at the Puna Canoe Club. Numerous reports from different people according to an Ag inspector I spoke with this morning. NOT GOOD! And…no mention to the public about the matter. The Public will be the ones to find them, not the damn traps! Fn irraz! Damn inspectors setting our beautiful island up once again. Too many harmful invasive species! Thanks for letting me vent…”

I’ve checked around online and I haven’t heard of anything being confirmed yet.

Department of Agriculture Gets Approval to Release Moth to Combat Fireweed in Hawaii

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture has obtained approval from the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to release the Arctiidae moth to combat the spread of Fireweed, an invasive pest that is toxic to livestock, Senator Daniel K. Inouye announced today.

Fireweed

Fireweed is an invasive weed from Madagascar which has infected an estimated 850,000 acres primarily on Maui and Hawaii Island. Fireweed has no natural predators in Hawaii, is resistant to drought, and if left unchecked, could spread to an additional 1.5 million acres in the next ten years.

“For the last decade, Hawaii’s cattle industry has been combating Fireweed. Due to the scope of Fireweed’s spread, chemical sprays are not feasible or economical. I want to express my gratitude to the State Department of Agriculture and to the USDA-APHIS for working together to approve the release of this bio-control moth that will help to control this invasive flower. It is my hope that this effort will help to ensure that Hawaii’s cattle industry will continue to thrive and help the state move toward greater food self sufficiency,” said Senator Inouye.

It is believed that Fireweed arrived in Hawaii in the 1980s.

Each Fireweed flower produces 30,000 seeds per year which are easily spread by wind, hiking boots, vehicles, and animals. The Arctiidae moth is also native to Madagascar and feeds on Fireweed.

The state continues to research other animals that could be used to further disrupt Fireweed’s spread.

 

Hawaii Invasive Plant Pest Advisory for a New Stinging Nettle

New Plant Pest Advisory for a stinging nettle, West Indian Woodnettle (Laportea aestuans).

This invasive plant is a new introduction to Hawaii and is a threat as an agricultural weed. It appears to be getting into the State with potted plants and in potting mix.

If you see this plant, report it immediately to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Plant Pest Control Branch at 973-9538.


More information: http://hawaii.gov/hdoa/pi/ppc/npa-1/Laportea%20aestuans%20NPA.pdf

 

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.

2012 Hawaii Conservation Conference – Day 1

Today was the first day of the 20th Annual Hawaii Conservation Conference and it was a great day held by all.

Tomorrow the public is invited to attend for free from 3 pm – 8 pm where Anuhea Jenkins will be putting on a show later in the evening on the 4th floor of the Hawaii Convention Center.

Here are my Tweets from this afternoon (if you read them from the bottom up they are more chronological that way:

Damon Tucker@damontucker

Check out the crowd at the symposium on New Developments for Managing Invasive Species! #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/8YFhboN6

Sheri Mann talks about funding sources for acquisition of conservation lands. #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/3bPSkXzH

Forum: The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary – 20 years later. #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/WL2iodLd

@swianecki @footesea @rtb808 I have to leave and then come back. Got to eat and check into hotel.

Big Island Police Looking for Suspects in Puna Burglary and Fire http://wp.me/ph7YX-eh5 

Cynthia King updates crowd on the State of #Hawaii Native Invertebrate database at #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/CpgL9NCB

University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood talks about institutung “Green Jobs” #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/Fsw1gysW

#hcc2012 Raynor – Our job is to build capacity of local leaders in Micronesia. We think this is true in Hawaii too!

Raynor: About forest loss in Pohnpei: “if you lose the forest, you lose the water, you lose the med plants, you lose everything” #HCC2012

Standing Room Only as Paul Higashino talks about the last 20 years on Kaho’olawe #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/MFYrrsl9

Big Island resident & UHHilo student Jesse Eiben talks about the Wekiu Bug #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/qek29g9P

Chris Brosius talks about the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/12fWlJNL

So nice to see a huge event like #HCC2012 without politicians trying to campaign! pic.twitter.com/YB6dOUw6

Heads up… Traffic light out at Kalakaua and Kapiolani intersection. pic.twitter.com/lXXMPpOI

Tundi Agardy: Ridges to Reef management & stewardship (Hawaii’s ahupua’a concept) is what will lead to effective conservation #HCC2012

Agardy: “By going very deep we forget to reach out to the side” problem of scientific hyper-specialization #HCC2012

Agardy: fishing+eutrophication+invasive spp= full ecosystem regime shifts; cannot be restored, there is a pt of no return #HCC2012

With deep-belly chants, each island asks permission to enter the conference during the opening protocol of #HCC2012 #hawaiianstyle

Check out hashtag #HCC2012 for great updates on the Hawaii Conservation Conference! Thanks for keeping me in the loop, tweeps!

Great opening plenary at #HCC2012 To succeed: love what you do, stay curious, perservere, listen to others, treat ppl well (return calls)

panelist James Jacobi:Hawaii may not be a biodiversity hotspot, but it’s an evolutionary & conservation hotspot w/ fantastic biota #HCC2012

RT @footesea Sato: We need new messengers-teachers, community & youth (+ scientists) If ppl don’t understand, they will fight you #HCC2012

Sam Gon, key to conservation success: know a little about a lot, appreciate wonders of this archipelago, & obsessiveness helps too! #HCC2012

Hashtag for attendees! RT @HCAFriends Welcome to the Hawaii Conservation Conference 2012 everyone! Let’s go: #HCC2012

Opening Plenary Panel: Tundy Agardy of Sound Seas & Bill Raynor of The Nature Conservancy #HCC2012 pic.twitter.com/vQPP1rK7

The 2012 Hawaii Conservation Concert is now beginning. #HCC2012 http://yfrog.us/fv4d2hxbqiziavoxddqiobiez …

Here are the pictures I took from today:

New Pest Found Only on The Big Island – Ice Plant Scale Insect (Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi)

NEW PEST ALERT! Please keep a look out for the ice plant scale insect (Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi) that can attack not only non-native plants such as the ice plant (Carpobrotus species) but could also attack native ‘akulikuli (Sesuvium species), ‘ihi (Portulaca species) and species in the plant family Chenopodiaceae (such as the native ‘aheahea).

Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi

It is currently only known from the Kona side of the Big Island, but pests can hitchhike to other islands. If you see this scale, report it to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture at 643-PEST or 832-0566 (O’ahu).

Common name: Iceplant scale

Field Characters: Body oval to circular; moderately convex in cross section; body green in newly formed females turning reddish brown in older females; without obvious wax covering except just before oviposition when covered with sparse mealy secretion; ovisac produced beneath and behind female, convex, often with mediodorsal goove, white, flocculent, about 1 or 2 times length of body. Occurring on succulent leaves of host. Males are common. Eggs laid inside ovisac.

Validation characters – Diagnosis: Marginal setae spinelike, usually curved, with simple apices; without submarginal tubercles; anal plates each with 1 subdiscal seta. Other characters: Each anal plate with 3 apical setae and 2 or 3 subapical setae; anal fold with 4 fringe setae; ventral tubular ducts scattered over surface; multilocular pores normally with 10 loculi; multiloculars present in vulvar area forward to segment 2; dorsal tubular ducts present; tibio-tarsus articulated, with sclerosis; claw with minute denticle; claw digitules equal; 3 pairs of prevulvar setae (posterior pair often obscured by anal plates); stigmatic setae differentiated from other marginal setae, middle seta longer than lateral setae; anal plates with posterior margin about equal in length to anterior margin; antennae 8-segmented; preopercular pores relatively conspicuous, restricted to area anterior of anal plates.

Comparison: Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi is similar to P. delottoi by having spinelike marginal setae, numerous tubular ducts, and multilocular pores predominantly with 10 loculi present in medial areas of most abdominal segments. Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi differs by having thin and predominantly curved marginal setae (marginal setae in P. delottoi are relatively thick and straight).

U.S. quarantine notes: Between 1995 and 2005, this species was intercepted at U. S. ports-of-entry 1 time (Italy on Aizoaceae). We have examined specimens taken in quarantine from Italy (Mesembryanthemum, Portulaca), Mexico (Aizoaceae), and Portugal (Mesembryanthemum). ScaleNet includes hosts in only 2 plant families and species in Carpobrotus (=Mesembryanthemum) are the most common. The species is reported from all zoogeographic regions except the Oriental region. No other species of Pulvinariella has been taken in quarantine.

References: Gill1988; Hodgso1994a; WashbuFr1985.

All references mentioning: Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi

Agriculture Inspector Positions Supported in State Budget Bill

Last night, House Finance and Senate Ways and Means conferees agreed to support Agriculture inspectors statewide by funding the positions through the state general fund rather than a special fund, freeing up more money to fight invasive species.

Currently, 20 inspector positions at airports and harbors on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Island, are funded through the Pest Inspection, Quarantine and Eradication Special Fund.  Monies in the fund are normally used for invasive species programs, but have been tapped in recent years to fund the agriculture inspectors due to the downturn in the economy and the state’s limited resources.

“The struggle to fund agriculture inspectors in order to stop invasive species from entering the state has been on-going for several years,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji (District 3 – South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown), Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture.  “I’m very pleased that my colleagues on the money committees recognized the urgency to support agriculture inspection and fight invasive species in a reliable and responsible manner.  This is good news for the protection of Hawaii’s precious natural resources.”

Additionally, the conferees agreed to fund through general funds nine agriculture inspector positions at Kahului Airport on Maui that are currently funded through the Department of Transportation using Federal Aviation Administration monies that will be discontinued at the end of this fiscal year.

The budget bill, HB2012, must clear the conference committee, pass a final floor vote in both House and Senate, and if passed, will be sent to the Governor for signature.

The Lorax and The IHOP Promotion – DLNR Works With Corporate Head Quarters to End Distribution of Non-Native Seeds

Hawai‘i theater goers enjoying the new movie, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” and its theme of protecting local tree species can help honor that message by supporting the use of native Hawaiian plants rather than non-native species.

IHOP Restaurants on the mainland are giving out bookmarks with seeds with every Lorax Breakfast purchased. (see bottom right)

To that end, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) worked with local IHOP managers and the IHOP corporate headquarters in California last week to voluntarily discontinue the distribution of promotional bookmarks embedded with seeds at Hawai‘i IHOP locations.

“Thanks to the quick action of DLNR and others involved, we have turned a potentially negative situation into a positive one by expanding on the movie’s underlying message of being better stewards of our natural environment,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “The collaborative effort to discontinue the distribution of spruce seeds engages those who may not be aware of the importance of the ‘right plant in the right place.’ Our forests will thrive with more native flora and that benefits all of us.”

The bookmarks are part of a promotional campaign for Universal Pictures’ new movie release, “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax,” in which IHOP customers are being encouraged to help the Lorax by planting trees. The bookmarks are embedded with Engelmann spruce seeds, which are native to parts of the U.S. mainland but not to Hawai‘i.

IHOP in Hawai‘i has voluntarily discontinued distribution of seeds, and the DLNR and the Coordinatig Group on Alien Pest Species have partnered with native Hawaiian plant nurseries to create an exchange program so that any Hawai‘i resident IHOP customers who may already have received a seed-laden bookmark can exchange their spruce seed bookmark for a free native Hawaiian plant.

While the specific species included in the bookmark may not pose a high risk to Hawai‘i’s native plants, other species of spruce trees have been observed to be invasive in parts of the Pacific, where they replace native plants and the animals that depend on them.

IHOP’s corporate office demonstrated its commitment to protecting the environment by also discontinuing this promotion in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where Engelmann spruce is also a nonnative species.

“We want to be responsible caretakers of our environment. When we learned that the trees in question would not be the best choice for Hawai‘i, we responded quickly. We hope our guests will take advantage of this exchange opportunity,” stated Patrick Lenow, spokesman for IHOP Restaurants.

First published in 1971, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a fictional story of a pristine environment where truffula trees provide food, clean air, and habitat for a community of unique animals. As they are overharvested to extinction, the Lorax tries to point out the environmental importance of the trees, but to no avail. The animals leave and the environment is left in ruins. However, the end of the story is one of hope: replant the truffula trees to restore the environment.

“Updating the message of The Lorax to include the value of native species is key for the next generation of conservationists to understand the problems facing our environment,” said Joshua Atwood, coordinator for the interagency Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council housed at the DLNR.

“An important part of The Lorax story is that the truffula trees grow nowhere else, and the Lorax is there to protect that limited resource. Similarly, many of Hawai‘i’s native plants and animals only exist on these islands, and we need to do what we can to protect them. That includes planting native, rather than nonnative, species whenever possible.”

One of the nurseries providing plants for the exchange is Hui Ku Maoli Ola, the largest native Hawaiian plant nursery in the state. “We believe in the importance of perpetuating our native flora as a part of our unique culture and environment,” said Matt Kapaliku Schirman, Hui Ku Maoli Ola co-founder. “This is a great opportunity to help protect and restore the Hawaiian environment.”

DLNR also thanks the Native Nursery and Big Island Plants or Ku ‘Oh‘ia Laka, whose exchange agreements were facilitated by the Maui and Big Island Invasive Species Committees.

IHOP customers who received a Lorax bookmark can exchange the seed-embedded bookmark for a native Hawaiian plant free of charge through the end of April, 2012 at the following participating nurseries:

O‘ahu: Hui Ku Maoli Ola Native Plant Nursery, 46-403 Haiku Rd, Kane‘ohe, HI, 96744, Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. – noon, closed Sunday, Contact: (808) 235-6165, www.hawaiiannativeplants.com

Maui: Native Nursery and Ho‘olawa Farms, exchange facilitated by the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), Contact MISC at (808) 573-6472

Hawai‘i Island: Big Island Plants or Ku ‘Oh‘ia Laka, exchange facilitated by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), Contact: BIISC at (808) 933-3345

13th International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds Next Week

Alligator weed

Alligator weed

About 200 invasive weed experts from around the world will convene next week on Hawai`i Island for the XIII International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds.  The symposium begins on Sunday, September 11th through Friday, September 16th at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa on the Kohala Coast.  This international conference is held once every four years and is the premier international forum for scientists and managers working in biological control of weeds around the world.

Biological control, which utilizes natural plant enemies and/or diseases, is needed in natural and managed ecosystems worldwide as a tool for managing invasive plant species that are too widespread and expensive to control using herbicides and/or mechanical removal methods.  Although challenging to implement, effective biocontrol can provide long-term, large-scale, highly selective control of otherwise prolific weeds.  Current research methods thoroughly test potential biocontrol agents prior to release to ensure that they only attack the target weed and not other native or beneficial plants or animals.

“Biological control is a necessary tool for protecting our native forests from highly invasive plants,” said Tracy Johnson, PhD, research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USDA-FS) and co-chair of the symposium. “This meeting in Hawai`i will provide a unique opportunity to draw on worldwide expertise to create new solutions for our worst weeds.”

“It is so appropriate that Hawai`i hosts this important symposium since the biological control of weeds actually began in Hawai`i,” said Neil Reimer, PhD, Plant Pest Control manager for the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA).  “With the tight economy and the Department of Agriculture’s diminished resources, the collaboration between states and nations becomes even more important.”

The Kingdom of Hawai`i was a world leader in biocontrol with successful introductions of a beetle to control cottony cushion scale in 1890.  After Hawai`i became a U.S. territory in 1900, biological control methods progressed with the introduction of several insect species to control lantana in 1902.  Since then, researchers in Hawai`i continue to be internationally recognized in biological control of weeds and plant pests and have collaborated with colleagues worldwide on the biological control of invasive weeds such as miconia, fireweed, fountain grass, banana poka, ivy gourd and gorse, among others. Many of those who have collaborated with Hawai`i researchers are attending the conference from the U.S. Mainland and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, Costa Rica, and South Africa.

The conference is hosted by HDOA, USDA-FS, and the University of Hawai`i at Hilo Conference Center.

Sponsors of the conference include: USDA-FS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Hawai`i County Department of Research & Development, Hawaiian Electric Company & Hawai`i Electric Light Company, Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua (New Zealand), U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center, Hawaii Forest and Trail, Destination Hilo, HDOA, Maui Invasive Species Committee, University of Hawai`i at Hilo Conference Center.

To view the conference agenda and information go to:  http://isbcw2011.uhhconferencecenter.com/

Governor Abercrombie Restores Agriculture Inspector Positions Lost in 2009

From the Governor’s Office:

Governor Neil Abercrombie approved the hiring of 10 agricultural inspectors, restoring some positions that were eliminated in 2009. The 10 positions will increase the level of inspections of produce and agricultural material and decrease inspection delays at Honolulu International Airport.

“Reinstating our agricultural inspectors was a key element of the New Day Plan and its promise to protect the environment, grow more of our own food, and restore a strong economy in Hawai’i,” said Governor Abercrombie.

With the restored inspector positions, the Hawai’i Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA) Plant Quarantine Branch will:

  • Increase inspection coverage at Honolulu International Airport, which is the highest-risk entry point for invasive species
  • Increase inspection of cargo moving interisland
  • Decrease the amount of overtime that importers are paying for after-hours cargo inspection
  • Allow for time to concentrate on processing import permits for vital bioenergy and research projects
  • Potentially re-establish the detector dog program

Governor Abercrombie also signed into law House Bill 1568, now Act 202, which directs the Department of Transportation and HDOA to begin the design and construction of biosecurity inspection facilities at airports and harbors.  These inspection facilities will allow HDOA and federal inspection authorities to perform their inspection tasks more efficiently and safely.

“Investing in our agricultural inspection activities to prevent the introduction of invasive species will save the state money in the long run,” said Russell S. Kokubun, Chairperson of the Hawai’i Board of Agriculture.  “Restoring agricultural inspection positions and the construction of new biosecurity inspection facilities will greatly improve our ability to protect our environment from the irreparable harm of outside threats.”

Prior to  layoffs in 2009, there were 95 plant quarantine inspectors statewide, covering all domestic maritime and air cargo inspections and handling import permits for regulated plants, animals and microorganisms.  Currently, there are only 50 agricultural inspectors statewide.

“The more eyes you have looking, the more invasive species you’re going to find and prevent from entering our environment,” said Carol Okada, Manager of the Plant Quarantine Branch. “One of our main priorities is to get our inspectors back on the job while we continue to search for others ways to boost our inspection services.”

The following table depicts the number of inspectors prior to the layoff and the current number statewide:

 Gov Restores Ag Inspector Positions Press Conf 1

The following Plant Quarantine data shows the number of interceptions at airports during the six-month period prior to the layoffs in 2009 and for the same period in 2010.  The interception rate dropped by half statewide and by 762 percent on O’ahu.

 

Gov Restores Ag Inspector Positions Press Conf 2

HDOA will be using a “recall list” to bring back former agricultural inspectors. The positions will be funded by the Pest Inspection Quarantine and Eradication Special Fund, which cargo importers pay into based on cargo weight.  The branch hopes to complete the rehiring procedures as soon as possible and have the inspectors back on the inspection teams.

The enactment of HB 1568 helps to lay the groundwork for the construction of inspection facilities at Honolulu International Airport and Honolulu Harbor to aid agricultural inspectors.  New inspection facilities will concentrate inspection activities in an enclosed, secured and temperature-controlled area.  This will make inspections more efficient by bringing the cargo to the inspection building rather than having inspectors go out to the individual cargo and shipping areas.  The building would also be able to better contain any pest or pathogen that may hitchhike on agricultural material. In addition, it will help increase food safety as cargo will not be exposed to daylight during inspection or while waiting for inspection.

An inspection facility was built several years ago at Kahului Airport as a requirement of the Kahului Airport Expansion Project.

I Can Handle Coqui Frogs… But Keep Them Damn Snakes Out of Hawaii

Media Release:

It was one of the first evening classes since arriving in Guam. Suddenly there was a snake, just six inches away, tongue out, staring coldly into his eyes. Raymond McGuire, Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s coqui control coordinator, later realized his work capturing coqui frogs on the Big Island had helped him spot the Brown Tree Snake (BTS) which can be nearly invisible outdoors.

Raymond Pulling a snake out of his trap

Raymond Pulling a snake out of his trap

McGuire was one of nine Pacific island-based personnel, including several from Hawaii Invasive Species Committees, sent to Guam for a three-week training led by James Stanford, BTS rapid response coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey.

According to Page Else, Big Island Invasive Species Committee public outreach specialist, the impact of the Brown Tree Snake — which first invaded Guam in WWII — has been very costly to that island territory’s economic, ecological and social environment. She added it would cause similar problems for Hawaii.

A snake

A snake

“These snakes are frequent flyers and somehow know to crawl into airplane wheel wells or cargo holds. Without constant airport inspections, Hawaii is sure to be infiltrated,” Else said recently. “Snake populations would rapidly establish in Hawaii, with rats, mice, birds and lizards as plentiful food sources. The threat is even more of a concern now due to the military base buildup on Guam and the current constraints on government budgets.”

Christy Leppanen, until recently the Honolulu-based state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ invasive species specialist, is the newly appointed Invasive Species Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This summer, she will be moving to Saipan to make sure, as Leppanen tells it, “the Brown Tree Snake doesn’t make it to Hawaii.”

Leppanen joined McGuire and Shawn Okumura of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee in the BTS training in Guam. McGuire and Okumura said they felt the training was worthwhile, although arduous. The students received daily classroom instruction in the mornings and four hours each night of field training in finding and capturing the BTS.

The first night in the field, a small snake bit into Shawn's leather glove

The first night in the field, a small snake bit into Shawn's leather glove

During the evening field session, the participants entered snake enclosures full of vegetation and trees to count the number of snakes. Initially, McGuire found it hard to coax himself to grab the snakes without hesitation. The duration of three weeks’ training helped him conquer that challenge. He learned to use the snakes’ scales and coloring as cues. The BTS’s scales shimmered in the light and sometimes – but not always – their eyes shined. BTS can vary in color from olive to dark brown and the older snakes often have yellow bellies.

By the end of the three weeks of training, McGuire had caught 15 snakes with hand tools and many more in traps. Okumura earned the record for most hand-captured snakes in one evening: seven.

Shawn and his large snake

Shawn and his large snake

Trapped BTS were bad-tempered, according to McGuire. Each participant was responsible for 10 traps that they checked every other day. The density of Guam’s BTS population became apparent as the group captured 70 snakes from a three-acre parcel one night, only to return two days later and capture another 60.

Working in teams of two, the participants learned to maneuver the snakes without frightening them, coaxing them onto branches where they could be captured. One trick they were taught was to thump a tree to get the BTS to descend from the upper branches.

Gurney Amore and Shawn Okumura holding a large snake

Gurney Amore and Shawn Okumura holding a large snake

According to the trainer, BTS are only mildly venomous and are not aggressive in the wild but quickly realize when they are being hunted. For children, a bite can result in a hospital visit but adults are usually not affected, the trainer said.

Okumura and McGuire deliberately allowed themselves to get bit, to make sure they were not allergic. “It didn’t hurt, even though the snakes try hard and chew strongly,” McGuire reported.

Obviously, the BTS is a potential threat to Hawaii’s environment but it is not the only reptilian threat, according to Else. Other snake species have been smuggled into Hawaii, despite it being against the law to do so. “Many people do not understand the impact snake populations could pose to our economy and ecosystems,” Else said. “It is illegal to bring a snake into the state but there have been over 300 credible snake sightings in the past 25 years, with only 100 recovered.”

The BIISC representative in Hilo said that designated state and federal employees continue to train and guard Hawaii against invasion by snakes and other biological threats. “We’re glad to have our ‘snake warriors’ ready to protect our island,” she said.

She then urged anyone who spots a snake to immediately call the Big Island Invasive Species Committee hotline at 961-3299 or the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 974-4221

New Law Increases Freight Fees to Fund Fight Against Invasive Species

Media Release:

Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed House Bill 865 into law – a bill that increases the fee on the net weight of imported freight in order to strengthen the state’s invasive species programs, including the improvement of inspections at airports and harbors.

Coqui Frog

Coqui Frog

The new law increases the fee from 50-cents to 75-cents for every 1,000 pounds of freight, or part thereof, brought into the state.  The legislature determined that, due to insufficient funds, the state is unable to adequately inspect imports that may contain prohibited items and to stop the spread of invasive species throughout Hawaii.  The increased funding will go toward programs on the inspection, quarantine and eradication of invasive species.

“Hawaii does not have adequate resources to fight invasive species, and this new law will help provide the funds needed by our state agencies,” said Rep. Clift Tsuji, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee.  “The threat of invasive species to our environment has become very serious.  If we don’t increase our inspection and eradication activities, our natural environment will rapidly deteriorate.  This is an important bill because the spread of pests like the coqui frog and others will negatively impact our economy and quality of life.”

The bill takes effect immediately upon approval.

Syd Singer Spreading More Rumors

Commentary by Syd Singer:

The list of what can be called “invasive” is growing. It now includes everything, even native species. Only humans are excluded from the definition. Funny, because we humans are the real cause of all the problems and admittedly are the most invasive species of them all.

 

Sydney Ross Singer - Director, Good Shepherd Foundation

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands (DLNR OCCL) is proposing new Administrative Rules for chapter 13-5 to make it easier to kill anything you don’t like on any of the 2,000,000 acres of conservation lands statewide. And you will be able to kill anything, anywhere, on any numbers of acres, using poisons and biocontrol insects, fungi, or pathogens.

It would seem that the so-called “Silent Invasion” of invasive plants and animals can now be solved with pesticides and pestilence. We are going from Silent Invasion to Silent Spring.

And the goal is no longer to protect endangered species, or even native species. The goal is to protect “native ecosystems”. You know, those mythical, Edenic places where nothing ever changes and there is no impact from mankind’s interference.

But climates do change. The conditions of the past are not coming back. Modern civilization is not going away. And you cannot recreate Eden with poisons and pestilence.

At a recent public hearing in Hilo regarding the proposed rule changes, Sam Lemmo, who runs the DLNR OCCL, admitted that their new definition of “invasive species” is controversial. The old definition of an invasive species was an alien species that is a threat to human health, the environment, or the economy. The proposed new definition is this: “Invasive species” means any plant, plant pest, noxious weed, microorganism, biological control organism, or animal than can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to the environment or to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, animal or public health, native species, natural resources, irrigation, or navigation, or otherwise defined in §520A-2, HRS.”

Deciding on “what belongs” in Hawaii was always a value judgment. Once you single out any plant or animal for extermination it is a slippery slope. And the definition of invasive has definitely slipped down the slope. Now, even native species can be called invasive.

According to the proposed rules, anyone wanting to poison, chainsaw, or release biocontrol agents against any species that that person believes qualifies under the “invasive” definition can do so WITHOUT A PERMIT OR EVEN LETTING THE DLNR KNOW.

This means all birds are invasive if they eat anything agricultural or compete in any way with any native species or bird or insect. Cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, goats, wild horses and donkeys, can all be poisoned or infected with biocontrol agents without a permit or review. Native species can be killed if they affect the interests of agriculture. Native fish can be poisoned if they compete with farmed fish. Coral can be killed if it interferes with the interests of navigation.

According to Sam Lemmo, his OCCL office is short staffed and cannot be burdened with every request for landscaping on conservation lands, even those in the protective subzone, which includes our most pristine coastlines and forests. The new rules will make it easier for the DLNR staff.

But what will it do to the environment, and to those who love it?

Essentially, the DLNR is saying to kill first and answer questions later, if anyone catches you. Of course, the damage will already have been done. And it is hard to see anyone being prosecuted since the rules give a green light to do whatever you want against whatever you don’t like.

As for environmental assessments bringing transparency and accountability to the process, the DLNR is currently requesting the Environmental Council to allow ALL invasive species control or eradication on any DLNR lands to be exempted from needing an environmental assessment or public comment, with the implicit assumption that anything done to kill an invasive is good, even if it uses poisons, bulldozers, and biocontrol. (The request for this exemption has not yet been reviewed by the Environmental Council as of February 1, 2011.)

Never mind the complex interaction between species. Never mind what the public thinks or values. The new catch phrase in environmental circles is “habitat restoration”. The new enemy is anything that “doesn’t belong”. The new targets are anything nonnative, or even native if it is not in the “proper balance”. Nothing can change from the way it was in the past. And the way to make the future the same as the past is with poisons and pestilence.

Of course, pestilence caused by biocontrol may itself need to be controlled with poisons, since many attacked species are desirable, such as fruit trees and ornamentals, and there is no guarantee that biocontrol will not start attacking other nontarget species. So the real weapon in this environmental war centers on killing with chemicals.

Following the money, it is easy to see where these proposed rule changes originated. In the days of Silent Spring, environmentalists awakened an awareness of chemical hazards. To recapture its market, chemical companies conceived a new poster child to promote its poisons – invasive species.

Now, decades later, Monsanto, Dow Elanco, and other agrochemical giants control our environmental and agricultural policy on state and federal levels. Active members of invasive species committees, Monsanto and Dow contribute generously to the Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups, politicians, and heavily lobby government agencies.

It is not surprising that Hawaii does virtually no inspections of agricultural products entering the state. We treat exports for pests, but not imports. This makes no sense for a place that decries invasive species and boasts numerous endangered species. But it makes sense when you realize that prevention brings less revenue than treatment. Those who sell the treatments are clearly invested in problems.

Beware of the chemical-environmental complex.

These companies are the only ones that will profit from this environmental war encouraged by the proposed DLNR rule changes.

In the dark, misty parking lot at the end of the public hearing on these rule changes, I ran into Sam Lemmo, and he made some revealing admissions. He said he was surrounded by people pressuring him to make these rule changes to make eradications easier, and resistance to the proposed rules was making his job difficult, because it wasn’t his decision to make. He reflected for a moment and then said, “I used to be an environmentalist. I guess you can say I sold out.”

He turned and walked to his car as he added, “Don’t trust me”.

I hope he was kidding.

The DLNR OCCL is still accepting comments on its proposed rule changes and holding public hearings. Speak up now, before it becomes necessary to wear a chemical resistant suit to take a hike in the poisoned park. Send comments now to Samuel Lemmo, Administrator, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, Kalanimoku Bldg., 1151 Punchbowl St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.

Here is the schedule of the hearings:

  • January 31, 2011 Kaunakakai, Molokai: Mitchell Pauole Center, 90 Ainoa St.
  • February 1, 2011 Lihue, Kauai: LihueLibrary, 4344 Hardy St.
  • February 7, 2011 Kona, Hawaii: Mayor’s Conf. Room, 75-5706 Kuakini Hwy, Rm 103
  • February 9, 2011 Honolulu, Oahu: Kalanimoku Bldg., 1151 Punchbowl St., Rm 132

Or write your comments and send to:

William J. Alia, Jr. Chairman

Department of Land and Natural Resources

Samuel Lemmo, Administrator

Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands

Kalanimoku Bldg.

1151 Punchbowl St.

Honolulu, Hawaii 96813

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Sets Stage for Environmental War

The following was sent to me by Sydney Singer (Public Hearings Begin January 24.  Go to hawaii.gov/dlnr/occl/hearings-workshops for dates and locations.)  I think most of my readers know how I feel about this guy in general. :roll:

WHOSE “INVASIVE” NOW?

Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Sets Stage for Environmental War

The Department of Land and Natural Resources Office of Coastal and Conservation Lands (DLNR OCCL) is responsible for overseeing approximately two million (2,000,000) acres of private and public lands, including beach and marine lands. In an attempt to better protect these lands, certain changes are being proposed to the Hawaii Administrative Rules 13-5 which govern the management of conservation lands. (To see the full text of the proposed amendments to the administrative rules, go to http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/occl/.)

Unfortunately, these proposed changes as currently drafted will initiate an environmental war that will include poisoning and infesting our forests, coastal and marine lands and implementing a witch hunt against any nonnative species someone decides to call “invasive”.

This goes against the Hawaii Constitution, Article XI, Section 1, which states, “For the benefit of present and future generations, the State and its political subdivisions shall conserve and protect Hawaii’s natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals and energy sources, and shall promote the development and utilization of these resources in a manner consistent with their conservation and in furtherance of the self sufficiency of the State.” (Emphasis added.)

Note that the Constitution refers to natural resources, not just native resources. The framers of the Constitution realized the value of introduced species for food, fuel, environmental services, and natural beauty. As an island that began as a lava field in the middle of the Pacific ocean, the paucity of native resources has been supplemented with numerous valuable introduced species to provide Hawaii with more natural resources…

The DLNR’s emphasis, however, is to condemn any nonnative species that can gain a foothold in the environment and change its “native” character. Such species are termed “invasive”, as though these species were “invading” native realms. However, preserving and protecting certain species is not a license to target others as harmful.

This is not about pests of agriculture or human health, like mosquitoes or tree borers or fruit flies. Laws already exist for the control of noxious weeds and pests. This is about attacking beneficial species of trees and plants and animals that are natural resources, but that are also altering the native motif of our conservation lands. It’s about native species supremacism and immigrant species suppression.

The list of “invasive” targets is extensive and growing all the time. It includes the guava, strawberry guava, thimble berry, African tulip, banyan tree, monkey pod, ironwood, cats, pigs, sheep, goats, all nonnative birds, all lizards, all frogs and toads, nonnative fish, and virtually any nonnative species that takes up space or water or air that might otherwise be taken up by a native species.

Jacksons’ chameleons are considered invasive. So are endangered veiled chameleons. And endangered Mouflon sheep. Parrots. Songbirds. Cattle egrets. Peacocks. All are considered “invasive” in Hawaii and are routinely killed.

It used to be about protecting endangered species. Then it became protecting all native species, even if they are not endangered. In reality, it’s an anti-immigration policy, a bioxenophobia used to justify poisoning, clearing, and infesting nonnative resources.

In effect the DLNR is taking the naïve position that once a species is labeled “invasive” it no longer has any positive qualities, and its control or eradication can only help native species and native ecosystems regardless of the means to achieve that end, and regardless of the fact that returning to a native ecosystem is an unattainable goal in today’s changing world and climate. However, life is not black and white. Native is not necessarily good, and nonnative is not necessarily bad.

Once a species becomes part of the environment, attacking that species is an attack on the environment itself. And defining a species as “invasive” is often controversial and political.

To allow an unfettered environmental war against “invasives”, however, the DLNR must first change the rules. Currently, the administrative rules place limits on weeding and landscaping activities on conservation lands to prevent environmental damage. The use of poisons, power tools, and biocontrol is prohibited. However, the proposed rule changes would lift all these safeguards for any attack on “invasive” species.

The proposed rule changes would allow poisons and biocontrol insects, fungi, and pathogens to be used to kill any “invasive” species of plant or animal on any number of acres of coastal or conservation land without requiring a permit or environmental assessment or any public hearing or public input.

No public input is allowed in making this determination of what is considered “invasive”, either. In fact, the proposed rule changes would severely restrict public oversight of DLNR decisions in violation of our Constitutional rights.

Proposed Rule Amendments

According to these rules, conservation lands are divided into different subzones depending on their qualities and the activities allowed. The most pristine and protected subzone is aptly called the Protective subzone. Next is the Limited subzone, with less restrictions of what you can do on these lands. Next is the Resource subzone, followed by the General subzone.

The first problem with these proposed rule amendments concerning invasive species control pertains to the definition of an invasive species.

I. Definition of Invasive Species

According to the draft proposal definitions,

“Invasive species” means any plant, plant pest, noxious weed, microorganism, biological control organism, or animal than can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to the environment or to the interests of agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture, animal or public health, native species, natural resources, irrigation, or navigation, or otherwise defined in §520A-2, HRS.”

The problems with this definition:

The “interests” of agriculture, horticulture, aquaculture is not clearly defined, and can change with time and economic conditions. Also, some so-called invasive species can be also agricultural, horticultural or aquacultural.

Many so-called invasive species may also be natural resources. According to the draft proposal definitions, ““Natural Resource” means resources such as plants, aquatic life and wildlife, cultural, historic, recreational, geologic, and archaeological sites, scenic areas, ecological significant areas, watersheds, and minerals.” A species can therefore be both a resource in one context, and invasive in another context.

This means that natural resources can be devalued and destroyed if they are considered invasive, in violation of the state’s duty to protect our natural resources.

The definition of invasive species does not explained by what procedure a species would be determined to be invasive. Discretionary decisions on what species are “invasive” could be arbitrary and capricious (or political). Such decisions require public hearings and an environmental assessment. This makes sense since labeling a species “invasive” changes the applicable rules of what you can do without a permit on conservation lands.

A species can be “invasive” in one environmental context and invaluable in another. There are also important interactions that can develop between native and introduced species, even if these introduced species can be labeled as “invasive” in certain contexts. labeling every member of a species as invasive is over simplistic and ignores the actual and potential benefits offered by a species in a wide range of contexts.

The definition of invasive species ignores the fact that environmental conditions change, altering the relationships between species and the proper goals of conservation. In addition to development and pollution and associated land usage changes over time, climate change in Hawaii is resulting in a shift in environmental conditions away from those that supported past native ecosystems and native species. This means healthy and robust exotic species that do well in Hawaii may become the dominant and valuable species of the future.

II. Removing Invasive Species

In an attempt to better manage the threat of so-called “invasive species”, proposed rule changes would allow any invasive species control activities on any number of acres of land, using power tools, poisons, and even using biocontrol insects, fungi, and pathogens, without any permit or site plan requirement. The underlying assumption is that the ends of controlling or eradicating invasive species justifies any means of killing them.

In contrast, if the species being controlled is not labeled an invasive species, then there are strict limits and requirements for permits and site plans. In other words, if someone wanted to poison 1000 acres of trees and leave them to rot, it would be prohibited unless the trees were considered invasive, at which time it could be allowed without any permit or even a site plan.

A. The most egregious application of this draconian environmental policy is in Hawaii Administrative Rule 13-5-22, “Identified land uses in the protective subzone.” This is identified as use

(P-4) and would not require any permit or site plan.

P-4 “Removal of invasive species including clearing with power hand tools and herbicides and biocontrols. Includes invasive species control using herbicides and biological agents in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations for the purpose of protecting, preserving or enhancing native species, native habitat, or native ecosystem function that results in no, or only minor ground disturbance. The department or board reserves the right to require site plan, departmental or board approval if it is determined that the proposed action may cause secondary impacts on natural and cultural resources, or the surrounding community. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. For existing developed lots, compliance with section 13-5-23(L-2) satisfies the requirements of this section.”

The problems with this proposed use are:

“Removal of invasive species including clearing with power hand tools and herbicides and biocontrols.” Biocontrols, which constitute the release of insects, fungi, or other pathogens to attack the target species, do not remove the target species from the area. Gall forming insects used as biocontrol, for example as being proposed for the management of strawberry guava, infest the leaves of the tree but do not remove the tree. Poisons can kill a plant but do not remove it from the area.

“Clearing” protective subzone conservation lands of a so-called invasive species may result in soil erosion, aesthetic damage, impacts to native and endangered species, and other primary and secondary impacts.

Biocontrol agents are not limited to the areas in which they are released, and may therefore attack the target species on private property or other unintended areas where the target is desired, resulting in property damage. Biocontrol agents also evolve over time in unpredictable ways, posing a potential threat to other species. Clearly, the introduction of an alien insect or fungus or pathogen into our Protective subzone conservation lands is something that should require an environmental assessment and permit, if it is allowed at all.

“The department or board reserves the right to require site plan, departmental or board approval if it is determined that the proposed action may cause secondary impacts on natural and cultural resources, or the surrounding community.” It is not clear how the department or board will make this determination without a permit application, environmental assessment, and public comment. This clause also subverts the intention of these rules, which are to define categories of actions allowed in these subzones to allow ministerial, and not discretionary, decision making. This clause leaves it to the discretion of the department or board, and therefore should trigger an environmental assessment under HRS 343, which requires the preparation of an EA for discretionary decisions pertaining to actions on conservation lands. It may also constitute rulemaking under HRS 91 by ruling particular species as invasive.

“For existing developed lots, compliance with section 13-5-23(L-2) satisfies the requirements of this section.” HAR 13-5-23 (L-2) pertains to landscaping in the Limited subzone. Ironically, it is more stringent than P-4 in the Protective subzone, which in the old rules was also labeled as landscaping.

There are three types of landscaping actions addressed in L-2, depending on the area being landscaped. The first, least damaging landscaping is, “Landscaping, defined as alteration (including clearing and tree removal) of plant cover including clearing with power hand tools and use of herbicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations that result in no or only minor ground disturbance, in an area less than 2,000 square feet. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and shall give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited.” This type of landscaping requires site plan approval.

The next type of landscaping is, “Landscaping, (including clearing, grubbing, and tree removal, including the use of herbicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations) of plant cover in an area of less than 10,000 square feet. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and shall give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited.” This land use requires a departmental permit.

And then there is, “Landscaping, (including clearing, grubbing, and tree removal, including the use of herbicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations) of plant cover in an area of more than 10,000 square feet. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and shall give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited.” This land use requires a board permit.

The difference between landscaping in P-4 and L-2 is that the P-4 refers only to invasive species, and L-2 refers to species not labeled as invasive. Clearly, however, environmental impacts may result from clearing and removing trees (regardless of their nativity or invasiveness). The protections afforded by L-2 should apply to the more protected Protective subzone, regardless of whether the protected land is already a developed lot. Indeed, the more protective L-2 makes even more sense for undeveloped lots, since more care should be required for actions on undeveloped lands.

Recommendation: Replace P-4 with the text of L-2, including all three landscaping types mentioned. However, L-2 should be changed as discussed in B.

B. Again, the Landscaping uses described in L-2 are:

“Landscaping, defined as alteration (including clearing and tree removal) of plant cover including clearing with power hand tools and use of herbicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations that result in no or only minor ground disturbance, in an area less than 2,000 square feet. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and shall give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited.” This use requires site plan approval.

“Landscaping, (including clearing, grubbing, and tree removal, including the use of herbicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations) of plant cover in an area of less than 10,000 square feet. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and shall give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited.” This land use requires a departmental permit.

“Landscaping, (including clearing, grubbing, and tree removal, including the use of herbicides in accordance with state and federal laws and regulations) of plant cover in an area of more than 10,000 square feet. Any replanting shall be appropriate to the site location and shall give preference to plant materials that are endemic or indigenous to Hawaii. The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited.” This land use requires a board permit.

The problems with these uses are:

The sentence, “The introduction of invasive plant species is prohibited” is in each landscape use. Again, as discussed in Section I, the definition of invasive species is arbitrary and capricious, fraught with contradictions, prevents the use of possibly nonnative species that may be more appropriate than native species for a given site location, and excludes public input.

Recommendation: This sentence should be changed to say, “The introduction of noxious species is prohibited. Noxious species is defined by the chapter 152, HRS, and chapter 4-68.”

This amended L-2 should be used in place of P-4.

According to the proposed amendments, 13-5-23 Identified land uses in the limited subzone, it states, (a) “In addition to the land uses identified herein, all identified land uses and their associated permit or site plan approval requirements listed for the protective subzone also apply to the limited subzone, unless otherwise noted.” Unless P-4 is changes to read the same as L-2, this provision would expose Limited subzone lands to the same potential destruction caused by invasive species removal.

Note that the greater environmental care is required to remove noninvasive plants than invasive ones. However, the impacts to the environment can be just as damaging in either case. Ironically, landscaping that removes plants from an area of less than half an acre requires board permit and an environmental assessment according to L-2, while “removing” invasive species from any number of acres requires nothing according to P-4, unless, of course, the DLNR OCCL somehow decides permits may be needed.

C. 13-5-24 Identified land uses in the resource subzone.

All the above comments apply to this subzone, as well, since 13-5-24 (a) states, “In addition to the land uses identified herein, all identified land uses and their associated permit or site plan approval requirements listed for the protective and limited subzones also apply to the resource subzone, unless otherwise noted.”

D. 13-5-25 Identified land uses in the general subzone.

All the above comments apply to this subzone, as well, since 13-5-25 (a) states, “In addition to the land uses identified in this section, all identified land uses and their associated permit or site plan approval requirements listed for the protective, limited, and resource subzones also apply to the general subzone, unless otherwise noted.”

III. Land and Resource management

Returning to the Protective subzone, a newly proposed use is P-13, which requires no permit or site plan. P-13 is, “Basic land and resource management, including routine weed and invasive species control, clearing of understory, planting of native and/or endemic plants, tree pruning, predator and ungulate control (including fence enclosures for single plant or small native wildlife communities, less than one acre), invasive aquatic species control, fence maintenance, etc. The department or board reserves the right to require site plan, departmental or board approval if it is determined that the proposed action may cause secondary impacts on natural or cultural resources.”

The problems with this proposed use are:

The term “basic land and resource management” is poorly defined, and the examples given could entail significant primary and secondary impacts. While the fence enclosures indicated less than one acre, there are no area limits placed on clearing of understory or routine weed and invasive species control or aquatic species control.

This paragraph makes no mention of the methods allowed for clearing understory, predator and ungulate control, invasive species control, or aquatic invasive species control.

Predator and ungulate control may have significant impacts on hunters and wildlife resources, and may require an environmental assessment under HRS 343.

Realizing the potential for abuse, the proposed amendment includes departmental or board discretionary decision making. “The department or board reserves the right to require site plan, departmental or board approval if it is determined that the proposed action may cause secondary impacts on natural or cultural resources.” This may be in violation of HRS 91 and HRS 343. See comment to II A(4) discussed above.

Recommendation: P-13 is redundant with other landscaping actions defined by L-2. The only added action allowed by P-13 and not included in L-2 pertains to fencing. This action can therefore be changed to: “Fence enclosures for single plant or small native wildlife communities, less than one acre.” All the rest should be deleted.

IV. Standing for Contested Case Hearing

Pertaining to Departmental Permits, 13-5-33 (g) states, “The permit applicant or any person who has some property interest in the land, who lawfully resides on the land, or who otherwise can demonstrate that they will be so directly and immediately affected by the use that their interest is so clearly distinguishable from that of the general public may appeal the chairperson’s decision by filing a written appeal to the department not later than fourteen days after the date of the department’s determination of the departmental permit. The written appeal shall provide all relevant information and shall state with specificity the reason for the appeal.”

The problem with this is:

The original 13-5-33(g) allows “any person” standing, and this proposed amendment is designed to raise the bar to public challenges of departmental decisions. This goes contrary to the rights guaranteed in the Hawaii Constitution Article Xl Section 9 concerning Environmental Rights and ensuring a private cause of action to protect those rights, and HRS 344-10 and other statutes promoting public involvement in the environmental decision making.

Recommendation: Restore the “Any person” provision of this paragraph.

V. Conclusion

The proposed amendments to the Hawaii Administrative Rules governing how conservation lands are managed by the DLNR OCCL will cause the opposite of their intent.

We cannot achieve environmental protection by waging environmental war.

The public should be encouraged to participate in environmental management, not locked out of the process and denied Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The DLNR needs to be reminded that it is the Department of Land and NATURAL Resources, not the Department of Land and NATIVE Resources.

US Forest Service, UH Hilo and Stanford Team Up to Develop New Ecosystems for Hawaiian Forests

Media Release:

In collaboration with Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, Hilo, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry will begin research next spring on developing “hybrid ecosystems” a mix of native and non-native species in an effort to create a sustainable ecosystem in tropical forests.

The research team, comprised of Dr. Susan Cordell, USDA Forest Service Research Ecologist; Dr. Rebecca Ostertag, Biology Associate Professor from the University of Hawaii at Hilo; and Dr. Peter Vitousek, Professor of Biology and the Clifford G. Morrison Professor in Population and Resource Studies from Stanford University, recently received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) to conduct their work on the 200-acre Hawaii Army National Guard Keaukaha Military Reservation on the island of Hawaii.

The proliferation of invasive plant species in lowland tropical forests in Hawaii have become so pervasive that it is neither cost-effective nor practical to eradicate all non-native species. These highly endangered ecosystems are often degraded by invasive species, and continue to be lost at a rapid rate. The research team will examine how to create new ecosystems incorporating native and non-native (but non-invasive) species that will also optimize carbon storage and support and encourage native biodiversity.

The project will begin in April 2011 and be conducted in two phases over a five-year time period. The first phase will include a 14-month study and analysis of traits of existing native and non-native species including cultural species. The second phase will include test plantings of several combinations of species.

“Invasive species are so prevalent. You’re hand weeding, trying to eliminate them and aren’t able to keep up with them. It feels like you’re fighting a losing battle. Restoring these lowland tropical forests to a historic native state is not financially or physically feasible,” Cordell says. “We’re excited about this grant because it will allow us to conduct our research and try to find ways to co-exist with a sub-set of these species, and promote the sustainability and biodiversity of these forests.”

The SERDP, DoD’s environmental science and technology program, invests across a broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced development. SERDP focuses on cross-service requirements and pursues solutions to the Department’s environmental challenges. The development and application of innovative environmental technologies will reduce the costs, environmental risks, and time required to resolve environmental problems while, at the same time, enhancing and sustaining military readiness.