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Volcano Village Receives Prestigious Warrior Marker Designation from HVCB

The latest addition to the Hawaii Visitor and Convention Bureau (HVCB) Warrior Marker program has just landed in Volcano Village. The Ni’aulani Rain Forest located off Old Volcano and Kalanikoa Roads has officially been designated as a site of historic significance on Hawaii’s Big Island.

While Volcano Art Center (VAC) currently serves as its official caretaker, the active nurturing of Ni’aulani began around the same time as the Warrior Marker itself.

Depicted in deep red and gold, the familiar figure of King Kamehameha has been used since the early 1930’s to mark Hawaii’s safe, accessible areas that are deemed to be of unique cultural, historic and scenic value.

In 1920, Ni‘aulani was first recognized by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) as a forest reserve and headquarters for island foresters. For decades, the foresters who resided on site restored and protected Ni‘aulani to the extent that they could with limited (human) resources, removing invasive kahili ginger and other problematic plants. They also sheltered the acreage from the devastating effects of cattle grazing and harvesting of old-growth ‘ōhi‘a and koa trees that plagued the surrounding rain forests.

When VAC chose to expand beyond Hawaii Volcanoes National Park into the neighboring Volcano Village, it was with the understanding that the organization continue to carry out the generational legacy of forest stewardship and – most importantly – help the community connect with this rare natural resource on educational and experiential levels.

According to Tanya Aynessazian, VAC’s Chief Executive Officer, the Ni‘aulani Rain Forest of today attracts a special kind of individual, one who seeks out profound inspiration by a true native Hawaiian rain forest. Rather than encountering impenetrable walls of alien kahili ginger or princess flower in the understory as seen in the surrounding Kīlauea rain forests, guests are introduced to a native forest floor consisting of indigenous flora such as flowering shrubs, ferns, mosses and the opportunistic fungi. Many such plants – and native rain forests in general – are of utmost significance in Hawaiian traditions. It is because of this varied native plant inventory that Ni‘aulani also fosters diverse populations of native bird species.

Volcano Art Center is honored to be facilitators between Ni’aulani and the steadfast people who devote an average of 800 annual volunteer hours to help restore and protect this rare treasure. For more information, visit the VAC Niaulani Campus online at www.volcanoartcenter.org or contact Tanya at (808) 967-8222 or director@volcanoartcenter.com.

Volcano Art Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created in 1974 whose mission is to promote, develop and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii through the arts and education.

More Papaya Trees Vandalized in Puna on the Big Island

Big Island police are investigating damage to papaya trees in Puna.

Approximately 35 papaya trees were knocked over Monday (June 11) in a papaya farm located near 8 ½ mile camp in Keaʻau. Damages were estimated at $1,750.

8 1/2 Mile Camp

Workers in the area observed two males knocking over the trees and striking at the fruit and branches with sticks. The males left the area on bicycles and were last seen getting into a blue Toyota 4-door pickup truck.

One suspect is described as possibly in his teens with dark skin, short hair, and wearing a white tank top and dark shorts. The other is described as having dark skin, short hair, wearing dark shorts and a black T-shirt with yellow writing on it, and carrying a backpack. The pickup truck that picked them up was last seen in the area of Kaloli Drive in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Police ask that anyone who see suspicious or unusual activity in any papaya farm call 911 immediately.

Anyone wishing to share information that does not require immediate attention may call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Citizens may also call the Police Department’s Kuleana Hotline at 961-2219.

Summer Fun – Youth Take the Soda-free Pledge this Summer

About 9,000 youths in the Dept. of Parks & Rec Summer Fun program will help battle the obesity epidemic by taking a pledge to be soda-free this summer.

City & County Parks staff have replaced soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages in vending machines with water and 100% fruit juice

The Hand that Feeds the Birds – The Hawaiian Endangered Bird Conservation Program

The San Diego Zoo has a Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program:

More than 662 birds have been released since our Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program began in 1994, which has helped breed and reintroduce endangered, native birds in the Hawaiian Islands.

This program will continue captive breeding and reintroduction efforts for the puaiohi, ‘alala, nene, and palila. In order to further conservation efforts of the Maui parrotbill, researchers will collect wild eggs or adult birds when appropriate. Environmental education programs and renovations to improve the Maui Bird Conservation Center will continue.

Recently they just had their ‘Aala bird population reach over 100 birds with the birth of this bird:


Watch as a newly hatched ‘alala, or Hawaiian crow, is fed by a human helper. Our Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program has now reached a milestone of over 100 ‘alala!

The zoo even has a blog devoted specifically to the conservation program you can check it out here, Hawaiian Birds where they explain more about the ‘alala as well as many of the other projects they are working on.

Agriculture Says Aloha to Hawaiian Farmers

Hawaii’s economy heavily depends on the success of their agriculture. Raw sugar, pineapple, and molasses are the state’s primary source of income outside of tourism.

Statistics provided by the USDA

However, the recent boom of corporate farming has threatened the livelihood of smaller, local farms. Coupled with the daunting downslide of the economic collapse, native Hawaiian farmers — with crippled means — are competing for vital market space against massive corporations with mega budgets.

In a roundtable discussion with Hawaiian Business Magazine, Dean Okimoto, Naio Farms owner, and former Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation president Dean Okimoto explained the types of hurdles that native farmers currently face to compete with factory farms on the mainland: “I talked with some people about bringing back chickens [to Hawaii]. Just for the processing facility you’re looking at $30 million and you need an FDA inspector in there at all times,” said Okimoto. “That’s what makes the system not work for small farmers. Corporate farmers are the only ones that can afford this infrastructure. And that’s what we lack here in Hawaii. Agriculture is going to need that help going forward.”

To find out more about the challenges facing the Hawaiian agriculture industry, read the full article here: Agriculture says aloha to Hawaiian Farmers