Jason Scott Lee Featured in Effort to Save the Palila, a Highly Endangered Hawaiian Bird

Jason Scott Lee, star of 25 motion pictures and raised in Hawai‘i, has lent his voice to a new public service announcement aimed at helping to save the highly endangered Palila (Loxioides bailleui). This bird is found only in a small patch of mamane forest on Mauna Kea volcano on Hawai‘i Island.

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The Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resource’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) have initiated a new outreach campaign that features the PSA which began airing statewide this week, and which will also be available soon for viewing at: RestoreMaunaKea.org. Lee is the voice of the Palila in this brief overview describing the causes for the bird’s declining population and management efforts to help save it.

“Not many people are familiar with what a Palila is and why they are worth saving. That’s because they live in remote and rugged terrain that few people ever visit,” said Robert Stephens, Coordinator for DOFAW’s Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project.

The Palila is a gorgeous, unique Hawaiian treasure, but unfortunately not enough people are aware of its precarious situation. We believe educating people about the importance of this species and the threats we are managing today, will build local and national support for the actions necessary to preserve this bird for future generations. --  Chris Farmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Science Coordinator for Hawai‘i.  Photo by R. Kohley.

The Palila is a gorgeous, unique Hawaiian treasure, but unfortunately not enough people are aware of its precarious situation. We believe educating people about the importance of this species and the threats we are managing today, will build local and national support for the actions necessary to preserve this bird for future generations. — Chris Farmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Science Coordinator for Hawai‘i. Photo by R. Kohley.

“What makes Palila special is that they are a classic example of the spectacular evolutionary process that occurred in the remoteness of the Hawaiian Islands. They survived in the dry forests for thousands of years by adapting to a food source, mamane pods, that is toxic to other wildlife. Palila belong here and are one of the things that makes Hawai‘i one of the most amazing places on the planet.”

In January 2014, a 9 x 12-foot mural featuring Palila and mamane will be completed for display on a prominent building in downtown Hilo, the county seat and largest city on the island.

The Palila has been loved by Hawaiians since ancient times and, along with other native species, they formed the environment that influenced the formation of a unique culture. Queen Emma visited Mauna Kea in the early 1880s, and a series of mele (chants) commemorate the event, including one describing the memorable song of Palila (from Nogelmeier 2001, He Lei no Emalani: Chants for Queen Emma Kaleleonalani).

“E aha ana lâ ‘Emalani – “What is Emmalani doing there?
I ka wai kapu a Lilinoe  – At the sacred water of Lilinoe?
E nanea, e walea a‘e ana – She is relaxing and she is enjoying
I ka hone mai a ka palila – The soothing song of the palila,
Oia manu noho Kuahiwi” – Those birds that dwell upon the Mountain.”

The population of the Palila, a Hawaiian honeycreeper, has declined 66 percent in the past decade, with fewer than 2,200 birds currently left. The Palila’s downward population slide is a result of habitat degradation, predation, and severe drought conditions that are causing reductions in food supply.

With critical support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is replacing the fence that encircles the majority of Palila critical habitat on Mauna Kea to prevent sheep and goats on adjacent lands from entering protected areas, while also removing the non-native ungulates from within the fence that destroy the native forests. Photo by Robert Stephens, Coordinator for DOFAW’s Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project

With critical support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is replacing the fence that encircles the majority of Palila critical habitat on Mauna Kea to prevent sheep and goats on adjacent lands from entering protected areas, while also removing the non-native ungulates from within the fence that destroy the native forests. Photo by Robert Stephens, Coordinator for DOFAW’s Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project

The native mamane and naio forests upon which the Palila depends have been degraded by non-native feral sheep, goats, cattle, and hybrid mouflon sheep over the past 200 years. The Palila once lived across most of the Island of Hawai‘i, but its range has shrunk to roughly 5 percent of its historical size. Other threats include long-term drought influenced by climate change, non-native, feral cats and mongooses that prey on adults and nestlings, fire, and invasive non-native plants. In a series of court orders beginning in 1979, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai‘i ruled that to prevent the bird’s extinction, the Department of Land and Natural Resources must permanently remove non-native ungulates (grazing mammals) from the Palila’s designated Critical Habitat on Mauna Kea through all necessary means, including fencing and aerial hunts.

“The Department of Land and Natural Resources is committed to protecting and conserving Hawai‘i’s unique natural, cultural and historic resources which are held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawai‘i nei. We hope our children’s children will be able to know the soothing song of the Palila,” said William Aila, DLNR Chairperson.

DOFAW, with critical support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is replacing the fence that encircles the majority of Palila critical habitat on Mauna Kea to prevent sheep and goats on adjacent lands from entering protected areas, while also removing the non-native ungulates from within the fence that destroy the native forests. In addition, DOFAW, the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project, ABC, and hundreds of local volunteers are restoring and replanting Mauna Kea’s mamane forest, which Palila depend upon for about 90% of their diet.

“The Palila is a gorgeous, unique Hawaiian treasure, but unfortunately not enough people are aware of its precarious situation,” said Chris Farmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Science Coordinator for Hawai‘i. “We believe educating people about the importance of this species and the threats we are managing today, will build local and national support for the actions necessary to preserve this bird for future generations.”

Big Island Resident Jason Scott Lee Lands Role of King in Broadway Musical “The King and I”

According to Broadway World, Big Island resident Jason Scott Lee has landed the role as King in the Broadway musical “The King and I”

Leading Australian theatre producer John Frost and Opera Australia Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini last night announced that the role of the King in the 2014 Melbourne season of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic Broadway musical The King and I will be played by international stage and screen star Jason Scott Lee.

King and I

Lee will play opposite Lisa McCune in the Tony Award-winning Australian production, which is being revived next year by John Frost and Opera Australia. Lee played the role to great acclaim previously in Frost’s production at the London Palladium in 2000-2001 opposite Elaine Paige.

Born in Los Angeles, Lee was raised in Hawaii and is of Chinese-Hawaiian descent. Although best known for his feature film roles, including the title role in the biopic Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Map of the Human Heart, Rapa Nui, Soldier and Lilo and Stitch, he has had an extensive stage career. Lee made his operatic debut in the non-singing role of Pasha Selim in Hawaii Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio in Honolulu in 2009.

More here:  Jason Scott Lee to Star Opposite Lisa McCune in THE KING AND I Australian Tour

DLNR Presents – “The Rain Follows the Forest” Featuring Jason Scott Lee

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is focusing its efforts on ecosystem management to protect our islands’ fresh water resources.

"It's so easy to get caught up in our modern world. Easy to forget where you came from. And then you look at the world and realize that things are kinda out of control. I left Hollywood 15-years ago. I came home to Hawaii to remember what life is about. My name is Jason Scott Lee, and I live in the rainforest." Excerpt from a new program about protecting our watersheds.

DLNR has produced a half-hour television special illustrating the importance of watershed protection and restoration. “The Rain Follows the Forest,” features Jason Scott Lee setting out on a journey to learn about sustainable life in our island home. Through interesting conversations, he learns about Hawai‘i’s fragile fresh water supply and discovers connections to our upland forest environment, and shares ways in which we all can contribute to protecting our watersheds.

Jason Scott Lee is on a journey to see if Hawaii's future bodes well or not for future generations. Join Jason as he learns about how a healthy watershed impacts our ocean and near shore ecosystems. We will be sharing this journey and the television premiere information soon!

One of those conversations in the television special is with William J. Aila, Jr., Chairperson of DLNR who says, “I think about my grandchildren all the time and the challenges that they are going to face. The worst-case scenario is that our watersheds are depleted and the source of fresh water diminishes.” “Fresh water is really important for us, it’s important to every ecosystem from the top of the mountain even into the ocean,” continued Aila.

Hawaii’s water supplies are under threat from hotter and drier conditions from climate change, as well as loss of watershed forests. Jason Scott Lee examines this and other facts about watershed preservation as part of an educational video produced by DLNR.

Tune-in on Thursday January 19, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. on KGMB and join Jason Scott Lee as he learns about our watersheds and how they provide nearly all of our fresh water in Hawai‘i.

Jason Scott Lee learned from Larry Yamamoto just how our agriculture water systems work. Our January video premiere will tell the story.

DLNR has launched a facebook page which has been following the production of the television special. Follow DLNR on facebook at www.facebook.com/HawaiiDLNR to see those images and keep up to date with DLNR news.

Airdates – January 2012

  • KGMB Thursday 1/19/2012 6:30-7pm
  • KGMB Sunday 1/22/2012 at 4:30-5pm
  • KHNL Thursday 1/26/2012 at 6:30-7pm
  • KHNL Saturday 1/28/2012 at 6 – 6:30pm

February 2012 – Throughout February on “Outside Hawai‘i” on OC16

For additional information, you may find “The Rain Follows the Forest: A Plan to Replenish Hawai‘i’s Source of Water” which was released by Governor Abercrombie in November 2011 on our DLNR website at www.hawaii.gov/dlnr.

Puna Resident and Actor Jason Scott Lee Starring in Hawaii Opera Theater This Weekend… Video

Actor Jason Scott Lee is a special guest starring in Hawaii Opera Theatre’s production of Mozart’s “Abduction from the Segaglio,” playing Feb. 13, 15 and 17 at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. Lee plays the Turkish pasha Selim, with tenor George Dyer as Belmonte, soprano Rachelle Durkin as Konstanze, bass Ashley Howard Wilkinson as Osmin, soprano Audrey Elizabeth Luna as Blonda and tenor Jeffrey Halili as Pedrillo:

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