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Video – Aerial Survey of Big Island Forests Shows Rapid Ohia Death Spread

Recent aerial surveys of 810,000 acres of Hawaii Island forests showed that a fungal infestation of ohia trees is much greater than earlier thought.

ohia deathUsing a helicopter and specialized survey equipment, surveyors from a collaboration of state, county and federal agencies flew over 81,000 acres, January 11 – 15, 2016.  Satellite imagery of ohia forests in 2014 resulted in an estimate of 15,000 acres infected by this newly identified disease. The latest survey, pending ground verification, estimates the infection has now spread to some 34,000 acres of the ohia forest on the Big Island.

Rapid Ohia Death Media Clips 12-23-15 from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Philipp LaHaela Walter, the State Resource and Survey Forester for the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “We used two surveyors at a time and flew a total of 8 ½ hours over state, federal and private lands covering about two-thirds of the Big Islands’s ohia forests. Our next steps are to cover the rest of the ohia forests with follow-up flights and to ground-truth the aerial operation. One of our priorities will be to double-check the Kohala area, where Rapid Ohia Death may have been detected for the first time by our aerial survey.”

A team of experts from DLNR/DOFAW, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and the National Park Service/Hawaii Volcanoes National Park conducted the aerial survey. The University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service and the USDA Agricultural Research Service assisted with planning. In 2014 USDA researchers identified the pathogen that causes the disease.

Dr. Flint Hughes, with the USDA Forest Service commented, “Unfortunately Rapid Ohia Death is spreading much quicker than we had hoped.  The aerial surveyors noted ohia trees with no leaves or brown leaves, likely impacted by the disease; as well as ohia trees which have been dead for a longer time and those that have been affected by either drought or VOG. It’s important that we differentiate the causes of tree deaths and continue to carefully and closely monitor the spread of Rapid Ohia Death to aid in reducing its spread on Hawaii Island and around the state.”

Ohia forests cover approximately 865,000 acres of land across the state and are considered the primary species providing habitat for countless plants, animals and invertebrates. These forests  protect watersheds that provide significant agriculture and drinking water across the state.

“It’s sad but not unexpected that we have a confirmed case of Rapid Ohia Death in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We are very concerned about the impacts to our cherished ohia that thrives throughout the park, and we will continue to implement the stringent measures developed by our interagency partners to prevent the spread of this devastating disease. We will also continue to sample trees throughout the park,” Orlando said.

Dr. J.B. Friday, the extension forester with the UH College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources Cooperative Extension Service explained, “We know that the state Department of Agriculture’s moratorium on the transport and shipment of ohia plants and parts is having a positive effect on curbing the spread. It’s impossible to determine whether the ban on ohia shipping is 100% effective and that’s why we are trying to get the word out to all forest users, nurseries, and lei makers that Rapid Ohia Death is fast killing what is considered one of the most important forest trees in Hawaii.”

Research into treatments for the particular fungus that causes Rapid Ohia Death continues at the USDA Agricultural Research Service lab in Hilo. Investigation into how it spreads is also being conducted with potential culprits being: insects, underground via roots, on small wood or dust particles, on clothing and shoes, and possibly on animals. Ultimately scientists hope that by identifying what is spreading the fungus they’ll be able to mitigate its devastating impacts.

Democratic Party of Hawaii Seeking Candidates to Replace Late Senator Gilbert Kahele

Democratic Party of Hawaii

The Hawaii County Democratic Party is seeking candidates who are interested in an appointment to serve as the Senator of Senate District 1. I’m sure you are all aware of the recent passing of Senator Gil Kahele who served so honorably in this seat. Our party will hold a process to determine 3 names that we will forward to the Governor for his appointment to the seat.

You can send me an email at micahalameda@gmail.com and I will forward you a copy of our county’s process for filling mid term vacancies. To be eligible an individual must be a member in good standing of the Democratic Party for a minimum of 6 months. The candidate can not currently be under reprimand pursuant to Article 1 of the Constitution of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. There will be a mandatory meeting of all candidates seeking the seat at the Keaukaha Elementary School Cafeteria on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.

At the meeting candidates will present a 3 minute introduction and then will be interviewed by officers of the nine precincts who comprise Senate District 1. At the completion of the interview process the precinct and district officers will vote to determine the top three candidates to forward to the governor. The process will be under my leadership as the Democratic Party Chair of House District 2 which is located entirely within Senate District 1.

Prospective candidates are to provide to the County Chair, Phil Barnes, for dissemination to the appropriate selection body a written application including the following:

1. Credentials and reasons for consideration for the position
2. Evidence of party participation
3. Verified signatures of at least five (5) party members within Senate District 1.

Items 1 and 2 above should be sent to Chair Barnes by email, preferably as PDF files, for electronic distribution to selectors. His email address is greenhi3@yahoo.com. Your signatures to complete #3 need to be on a form from the Hawaii County Democratic Party which you can easily get by emailing Chair Barnes and need to be delivered by mail to Chair Barnes at 64 Amauulu Road Hilo, HI 96720.

The Deadline for applications to be in Chair Barnes possession is 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday February 10, 2016.

For further inquiries please contact micahalameda@gmail.com or at (808) 319-3371.

Aloha nui,
Micah Alameda, Chair
District 2

Senator Gilbert Kahele Big Island Celebration of Life – Process to Nominate Replacement at Legislature

On January 26th, Hawaii Senator Gilbert Kahele passed away.  A celebration of life for Senator Kahele will be held on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 5 p.m. at the Hilo Civic Auditorium.  A private burial at sea will be held at Kapua Bay.

Kahele Motorcade
The process to nominate a replacement for him at the State Legislature was explained by Big Island Senator Lorraine Inouye as following:

The process will be that the Hawaii County Party Chair, Phil Barnes, will be notifying the precinct presidents of senate District 1.

A meeting must be held to have precinct members cast votes for their person, instructions to be determined.

It goes to several rounds, a vote cast for candidates by precincts, until such time a final three, who survived, their names will be sent to the State Party Chair, who then forwards those 3 names to the governor.

The meeting will be somewhere in Hilo, at a date picked by the Party chair and his officers.  I understand it will be sometime this month.
Please continue to search on the Hawaii County website as, I am sure information will be posted, or contact your precinct president.

I am sure there will be a deadline and must be a Democrat.

Candidates must be a democrat in the Senate District 1 only. Candidates may not only be elected official.  The election area will be cordoned off to keep candidates and precinct members who will participate in the voting process in a secured section of the place to be determined, but cannot close such meeting from other democrats who would like to observe in another section of the event.

That is the democratic process.

I see nothing in the current statute in the HRS of Hawaii to deny observers.  But they cannot participate in this election process.

All instructions must be clear at the day of the voting and conducted by the County Party Chair and the State Party President.

Lorraine R Inouye
Senator – District 4

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls on Governor David Ige to Declare Hawaiʻi Island Dengue Fever Outbreak a State of Emergency

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today called on Governor David Ige to declare the Hawaiʻi Island dengue fever outbreak a state of emergency and deploy State resources, including the National Guard, to assist with mosquito abatement, public information, clearing, and providing completely free testing for those with suspected symptoms of this incurable disease.

Congresswoman Gabbard met with Hawaii County Civil Defense officials last week.

Congresswoman Gabbard met with Hawaii County Civil Defense officials last week.

“The dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island continues to worsen.  We cannot afford to wait any longer for the aggressive action necessary to combat the spread of this serious disease.  An emergency proclamation from the Governor is long overdue,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who represents the people of Hawaiʻi Island.  “There have already been 242 confirmed cases of Dengue Fever on Hawaiʻi Island, creating a public health emergency affecting our residents and visitors, and Hawaii Island’s economy.  They deserve our state’s full attention and resources to do what it takes to put an end to this outbreak, and prevent it from becoming endemic and spreading to other parts of the island and state.”

On October 21, 2015 the Dengue exposure rate on Hawaiʻi Island was 1 in 185,079.  As of today, 1 out of every 849 residents and approximately 3 out of every 50,000 visitors has contracted dengue fever.  This constitutes an average infection rate of 67 residents and 7 visitors every month since this outbreak began.  Additionally, the same mosquito that carries Dengue Fever is also a carrier of the Zika virus, which is “spreading explosively” according to UN health officials, who are currently considering declaring an international health emergency.

In speaking with Governor Ige and by written correspondence, the congresswoman called for the following action items to be addressed immediately:

1. Completely free and accessible testingfor those who suspect they have symptoms of Dengue Fever. While the cost of the test may be free, residents and visitors are still charged for visits to a physician, nurse, or clinic in order for their blood to be drawn.  This could easily be solved by ensuring there are free access points island-wide, and by deploying state or National Guard medical personnel as a mobile testing unit that can travel to both populated and remote locations across the island, draw blood, and get samples to the lab for expedited results.

2. Allocate resources to the Department of Health for development and execution of a comprehensive public information and public engagement campaign with quality review measures.  Current “Fight the Bite” efforts fall far short of providing residents and visitors with the information they need.

3. Provide a full-time entomologist on Hawaiʻi Islanddedicated to eradication, reduction, and prevention of further spread of the Dengue virus.

4. Allocate resources to hire vector control personnel,purchase more sprayers and other necessary equipment and supplies.

5. Provide free supply and distribution of Ovitraps throughout the community to empower local residents to help prevent the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. World Health Organization report studies have shown that population densities can be reduced below disease-transmission thresholds with sufficiently large numbers of frequently serviced traps.

6. Appoint a Dengue Czarwho can act as the coordinator of efforts with all parties within the state, county, federal, private sector, and community to ensure the objectives are being met.

More than a third of the world’s population live in areas at risk for infection from the Dengue virus, which is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. As many as 400 million people are infected annually.  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been meeting with state leaders, Hawaiʻi County officials and Civil Defense, military personnel, experts in the private sector and at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and listening to concerned citizens of the Big Island, working to protect the people of Hawaiʻi from Dengue Fever, a debilitating disease that has no vaccine, treatment, or cure, so that the Aloha State does not remain a part of this worldwide epidemic.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 242

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 1 more case since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 242:

Mosquito Bite

As of January 29, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 1 new case of dengue fever.  Currently, as many as 2 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
2 Illness onset 1/20/16 to 1/21/16
Cases no longer infectious
240 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 1/18/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)

Of the confirmed cases, 218 are Hawaii Island residents and 24 are visitors.
197 cases have been adults; 45 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 1/21/16.

As of today, a total of 1018 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

After Dark Goes OUT of the Park in 2016

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’s popular After Dark program will travel to Hilo and Kailua-Kona this year to celebrate the park’s centennial anniversary in those communities. This year is also the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service.

A view of Ka Lae (South Point) from Kahuku. NPS Photo/David Boyle

A view of Ka Lae (South Point) from Kahuku. NPS Photo/David Boyle

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo will host four one-hour After Dark Out of the Park programs on Feb. 24, June 29, Aug. 17, and Oct. 26. Each program is free and starts at 7 p.m. Free parking is available.

In Kailua-Kona, the Kona Historical Society will host an After Dark Out of the Park program on July 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. Free parking is available. See the schedule below for Kona and Hilo presentations:

A two-tone ‘ōhi‘a lehua at Kahuku. NPS Photo/David Boyle

A two-tone ‘ōhi‘a lehua at Kahuku. NPS Photo/David Boyle

After Dark Out of the Park: The Natural Resources of Kahuku. Park Botanist Sierra McDaniel and Wildlife Biologist Jon Faford discuss the natural treasures of the Kahuku Unit, former ranch lands acquired by the National Park Service in 2003, and the challenges of conserving the native species like nēnē, hāhā and Mauna Loa silverswords that cling to life here. Sponsored by Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.

  • When: Wed., Feb. 24, 2016 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo, 76 Kamehameha Avenue

After Dark Out of the Park: The Evolution of Landscape Restoration at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Since its establishment in 1916, various attempts to conserve and protect the park’s rich biological resources have been made by the Territory of Hawai‘i, the National Park Service, and citizen scientists – with varying degrees of success. Beginning in 1970, park staff adopted a systematic park-wide approach to managing species and habitats which continues today. Join Chief of Natural Resource Management Dr. Rhonda Loh to learn more about these Special Ecological Areas, or SEAs, and decades of successful restoration in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Sponsored by Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.

  • When: Wed., June 29, 2016 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo, 76 Kamehameha Avenue

After Dark Out of the Park: The Establishment of Hawaii National Park. Park Archeologist Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura shares the story of the development of Hawaii National Park, and presents a fascinating look at the extraordinary individuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who were key in creating the national park that then included the summits of Kīlauea and Haleakalā on Maui. Sponsored by the Kona Historical Society as part of its Hanohano ‘O Kona Lecture Series.

  • When: Wed., July 27 at 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Where: West Hawai‘i Civic Center, 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Highway

After Dark Out of the Park: The Establishment of Hawaii National Park. Park Archeologist Dr. Jadelyn Moniz-Nakamura shares the story of the development of Hawaii National Park, and presents a fascinating look at the extraordinary individuals of the late 19th and early 20th centuries who were key in creating the national park that then included the summits of Kīlauea and Haleakalā on Maui. Sponsored by Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.

  • When: Wed., Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo, 76 Kamehameha Avenue

After Dark Out of the Park: LiDAR Sheds New Light on Hidden Gems. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology is used to digitize archeological resources including ancient footprints, petroglyph fields and agricultural systems. Join Park Archeologist Dusten Robbins to learn how the park uses LiDAR in managing cultural resources, and future uses of this exciting technology. Sponsored by Mokupāpapa Discovery Center.

  • When: Wed., Oct. 26 at 7 p.m.
  • Where: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo, 76 Kamehameha Avenue

The After Dark Out of the Park series will be offered on a Wednesday, and each presentation will be followed by a complementary hike or excursion in the park the following Saturday to encourage people to “Find Your Park.” Visit the park website for the Centennial Hike Series schedule, and After Dark In the Park programs.

In 2016, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will celebrate 100 years  of connecting people to, and caring for, the extraordinary landscape, native plants and animals and Hawaiian culture linked with Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes.

The Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Centennial After Dark in the Park, After Dark Out of the Park, and Hike Series is free, and no advance registration is required. The series is co-sponsored by the Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and donations are greatly appreciated.

Senator Espero Introduces Medical Marijuana Bills

Hawai‘i joined the growing list of states across the nation in 2015 when Act 241 was signed into law, providing the framework for the first medical marijuana dispensary program. Today marks the deadline in which prospective applicants interested in obtaining a permit to operate a dispensary may submit their applications.


While the program continues to make progress under the State Department of Health, Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19- ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at improving the medical marijuana program and further help the patients who use it.

Among the measures introduced is SB2176, which would establish a medical marijuana oversight committee under the Department of Health. The committee would include licensed medical professionals and registered patients that monitor, evaluate, and make recommendations regarding the implementation of the use, cultivation, and dispensing of medical marijuana and the overall program.

Other medical marijuana bills being introduced by Senator Espero are:

SB2175 Requires the Department of Health to issue a third medical marijuana dispensary license for the county of Hawaii. Allows medical marijuana dispensaries to be open during certain hours on Sundays. Allows an individual convicted of a felony to be employed at or enter into a medical marijuana dispensary facility only if the individual has not been convicted of a felony within the six years immediately preceding employment or entry.

SB2177 Requires the Department of Health to issue a receipt that shall serve as a temporary registration certificate for the medical use of marijuana upon receipt of a written certification form completed by or on behalf of a qualifying patient. Increases penalty for fraudulent misrepresentation to a law enforcement official relating to the issuance of a written certificate by a physician.

SB2178 Allows arthritis, anxiety, insomnia, and stress to be included among the debilitating medical conditions for which medical marijuana may be authorized to be used.

SB2306 Allows the Department of Health to revoke a medical marijuana dispensary license under certain conditions and subject to a ninety day notice followed by a public hearing within fourteen days. Establishes a fine of up to $500 per day for any licensee who violates state law or administrative rules. Allows a licensee to appeal a fine to an ad hoc special committee. Allows the Department of Health to choose a new licensee if the department revokes a license.

SB2307 Beginning January 1, 2017, establishes a licensing system for medical marijuana growing facilities, production centers, and retail dispensing locations. Allows persons authorized to use and possess medical marijuana in other states to be treated similarly to qualifying patients in this State pursuant to rules adopted by the Department of Health after 1/1/2018. Authorizes the department of health to conduct criminal history checks on license applicants; licensees; prospective employees of growing facilities, production centers, and retail dispensing locations; subcontractors; and persons authorized to enter and remain on such premises. Repeals chapter 329D on December 31, 2016.

SB2308 Establishes a working group to research and make recommendations regarding medical marijuana edibles for human consumption.

SB2627 Establishes a medical marijuana commission to evaluate and make recommendations about the overall effectiveness of the medical marijuana dispensaries in the State.

SB2757 Authorizes the Department of Agriculture to establish a three-year industrial hemp research program to investigate the viability of industrial hemp as a building material for housing in the State. Requires a final report to the legislature prior to the convening of the regular session of 2019. Defines “industrial hemp”. Repeals 7/1/2019.

Hawaii Residents Can Spot the International Space Station Tonight

Hawaii residents can spot the International Space Station tonight (depending on clouds).

International Space Station

It will be visible beginning tonight, Friday, January 29th, at 7:05 PM. It will be visible for approximately 4 minutes.  It will appear 30 degrees above the West Southwest part of the sky and disappear 16 degrees above North Northeast.

Lawmaker Working with Stolen Stuff Hawaii Founder Drafts “25 by 25” Bill

Vice Speaker John Mizuno (Kamehameha Heights, Kalihi Valley, and portions of Lower Kalihi) announced today that he is working with Michael Kitchens, the founder of “Stolen Stuff Hawaii” (SSH) which is a statewide community watch group assisting victims of stolen property and crime. Mizuno drafted the bill because of his concerns with the crime rate and the high rate of recidivism in Hawaii. Mizuno adds, “Prisoners who are released, only to be re-sentenced in Hawaii’s correctional facilities or transferred to a prison on the mainland cost state taxpayers millions of dollars every year.”

Stolen Stuff

Representative Mizuno is working with Mr. Kitchens to fine tune the language of the bill after the SSH community voiced concerns over certain portions of the bill. Mizuno adds, “Mr. Kitchens and I had a great discussion on the current bill draft and we agreed that should this measure be scheduled for a hearing, testimony will be provided by SSH to amend the bill to remove the three strikes law portion due to its absence in current Hawaii state law. In addition, SSH would recommend removing the need to raise the monetary thresholds for felony theft in Hawaii as it is contrary to the spirit of the bill.”

Mr. Kitchens provides, “Working with Representative Mizuno has given our group of over 42,000 members valuable opportunity to voice their concerns as well as give insight into the problems our community faces when dealing with repeat criminal offenders. This bill is about dealing with the root causes which are lack of education, poverty, illegal drug use, mental health issues, and having the proper support groups that will keep those who commit crimes from returning to that life once their time is served.”

Rep. Mizuno introduced House Bill 2001 (HB 2001) which would establish a Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform in the Governor’s Office. Mizuno’s bill requires the Commission to develop a statewide framework of sentencing and corrections policies to further reduce the State’s incarcerated population by 25% by year 2025. The bill also directs the Commission to develop a plan to reduce spending on corrections and reinvest in strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism.

Mizuno provides, “I read that the ‘Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections issued recommendations Tuesday for steps the Justice Department, Congress, judges and prison officials can take to cut the prison population. According to the AP news story the panel says that if all recommendations were implemented, the federal inmate count could drop by 60,000 by 2024 and save the nation’s taxpayers $5 billion dollars.'” Mizuno adds, “The recommendations by that Task Force on Federal Corrections seems to be in line with my bill to reduce Hawaii’s prison population by 25% by year 2025. In reviewing the State’s probation system, the commission shall include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of the State’s current practices relating to incarceration, crime prevention, and education with a focus on reducing spending on corrections and reinvesting the savings gained in strategies that will increase public safety and reduce recidivism.

In essence we want to substantially reduce crime, thus ensuring safer communities statewide, while providing an employment or trade skill to our people who are incarcerated, so when they are released they can secure employment, pay taxes, and enjoy life as a contributing member of our society.”

Mizuno adds, “Working with Mr. Kitchens and the SSH group has been extremely meaningful and rewarding, because this demonstrates the legislatures willingness to partner with the community. At the end of the day we are all working together to reduce crime, reduce recidivism, and reduce costs to our taxpayers. If we do this right we will have stronger families and stronger communities, which will reflect a stronger State.”

Big Island Artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker Art Hangs in Hawaii’s State Capital

Renowned Big Island based artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker’s limited edition Giclee on Canvas “Scaredy Cat Meets The Ghost Of Exotica” now hangs in State Representative Nicole Lowen’s office.

Artist Brad Parker with Hawaii House Rep. Nicholle Lowen

Artist Brad Parker with Hawaii House Rep. Nicole Lowen

“Its a great honor to get the seal of approval of my art from Representative Lowen” quoted the artist. “I am happy that our local Representative appreciates my unique style of art and asked me to be part of the State Capital’s Art collection”.

“I am always thrilled to display art from Kona in my Honolulu office and I absolutely love this piece!” quoted Representative Lowen. “Now I have one of the most interesting pieces of art in the State Capital. Thank you Brad and Abbas” she added.