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Big Island Arbor Day Events Feature Native, Non-Native Plants for Sale

Celebrate Arbor Day in Hawaii and “go green” by purchasing and planting a native plant from the Arbor Day plant sale on Friday, November 2 at Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) nurseries on the Big Island.

Planting a native plant celebrates the forests that are fundamental to our way of life. Hawaii’s native forests provide the islands’ water supply by absorbing large quantities of moisture from passing clouds and rainfall. These watershed forests reduce greenhouse gases and flooding, erosion, and siltation of reefs and fisheries. Native plants also have cultural significance, regarded as elders and ancestors, or used for medicines, offerings, or other material needs.

Learn more about these incredible and unique plants at the Big Island sale, held in two locations, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. In Hilo the plant sale is at the DOFAW baseyard at 19 E. Kawili St. (corner of Kawili St. and Kilauea Ave.). Phone 974-4221. In Kamuela, the sale is at the DOFAW Kamuela office at 66-1220A Lalamilo Road. Call 887-6061.

A few of the native species that will be available are: koa, koai‘a, ohia, hame, kokio (hibiscus), alahe‘e, pohinahina, sandalwood, and loulu. A few of the non-native species that will be available are: puakenikeni, Sugi pines, ylang ylang, gardenia, shower tree, and Podocarpus.

The cost of plant species will range from $1 each for dibble tube seedlings to $15 each for 3-gallon pots. There are no limits on quantities purchased and all sales are on a cash only basis. Plant sales will feature both native and non-native plants raised at DOFAW nurseries that are popular with gardeners and landscapers. Proceeds will be used to support nursery operations and forest management.

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

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

Dodder Fodder – Commentary by Syd Singer

Commentary by Syd Singer:

How far are we willing to go to protect “native” species? Would you be willing to put your body on the line? If there was a native Hawaiian tapeworm, would you be willing to serve as its host? If it was an endangered Hawaiian tapeworm, you may be able to get a government grant to become critical habitat for the parasite. Nobody would be able to touch you without a permit or an environmental assessment.

WANTED: HUMAN HOSTS FOR NATIVE HAWAIIAN TAPEWORMS: Is There Any Limit To The Invasive Species Agenda? (Syd Singer)

Actually, there is a native Hawaiian parasite of plants, called dodder (Cuscuta sandwichiana), that hangs from trees and shrubs and smothers them to death and sucks out their juices. The dodder drapes over its host with its green and orange-tan filaments like a net, until all you see is the dodder. Large areas of trees, including o’hia, are destroyed by dodder.

This can create a dilemma for native species advocates. If the dodder is growing on a native tree, such as the o’hia, do you let it kill the tree, or do you kill the dodder?

I suppose the answer to that depends on whether you value the o’hia more than the dodder. But given the political correctness to protect native ecosystems, environmental managers may have trouble deciding on which native species to save, the resource or the parasite. After all, parasites are a normal and necessary part of the environment. All ecosystems need predators, parasites, competition, and all the rest for the cycle of life and death to go round.

But what if the tree the dodder is smothering is nonnative? Let’s say the native dodder is growing on a nonnative ornamental bush, such as rose bush, or a nonnative fruit or ornamental tree, such as a mango or lychee. Should we kill the native dodder or let it kill its nonnative host?

According to the nativists, the answer is clear. The native parasite must prevail.

Now this may seem odd to anyone who does not share the nativists’ bias. We all have some sympathy for endangered species. And some of us extend that sympathy to nonendangered native species. But there is more to consider than nativity…

Continue reading

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.