DOH Update on New Kauai COVID-19 Cases

As a result of contact tracing of a new case yesterday, Department of Health investigators have identified seven additional positive cases on Kaua‘i who are household members with the previous case. The new cases were already placed in quarantine when they were tested yesterday. Kaua‘i District Health Office is continuing their contact tracing of the household cluster this weekend and identification of additional contacts and testing is ongoing.

Kaua‘i had no cases for ten weeks and this raises the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases on the island to 29, since March. There are six (6) new cases on O‘ahu and one (1) on Maui for a total of 14 new cases confirmed in the past 24-hours, and a statewide case total of 803.  

Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said, “We have investigated every case with positive test results and identified several household clusters over the last few days. The identification of these clusters and subsequent investigations resulted in the isolation and quarantine of cases and close contacts. These clusters reinforce the importance of maintaining safe practices, especially wearing masks and physically distancing when meeting with people outside your immediate ohana.” One of the new cases reported on O‘ahu was associated with a previously confirmed case, where both people had attended a house party.”

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said, “It’s important to maintain physical distancing from those who don’t live in your household, but as this and other clusters demonstrate, coronavirus can be spread among people in the same household. We strongly urge people to take care and physically distance, no matter the setting…indoors or out, or at least wear a mask when around others outside your household.”

Health experts believe much of the spike in COVID-19 cases reported over the past few days is due to Hawai‘i residents relaxing safe practices, such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks and frequent hand washing.

“All of the people in the household cluster on Kaua‘i were isolated or quarantined promptly, said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kaua‘i District Health Officer. The decision to isolate or quarantine at home or in a facility is made jointly with the cases and contacts and the Department of Health. The option chosen is the one that works best for all. Household contacts were tested yesterday, and their results reported today. Testing of additional contacts will begin this weekend.” 

Hawai‘i COVID-19 Counts as of 12:00 noon, June 20, 2020

Island of DiagnosisNew CasesReported since2/28/2020(including new cases)Total Released from Isolation*
O‘ahu6557430
Hawai‘i08381
Maui1120111
Kaua‘i72920
Moloka‘i022
Lana‘i000
Residents Diagnosed outside HI012 
Unknown00 
Total14803 
Total released from isolation  644
Deaths017 

* Includes cases that meet isolation release criteria. 

Laboratory* Testing Data

There were 1,126 additional COVID-19 tests reported via electronic laboratory reporting.

Total Number of Individuals Testedby Clinical and State LaboratoriesPositiveNegative
67,860**80267,044

*Electronic Laboratory Reporting  **14 test results were inconclusive

Kauai District Health Office Announces CASPER COVID-19 Survey Results

More than half (57%) of Kaua‘i households have at least one person living in their home who has lost their job as a result of the pandemic, and the resulting economic strain is affecting the mental health of Garden Island residents.

These findings were revealed in a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) survey conducted in April by the Hawai‘i Department of Health’s Kaua‘i District Health Office to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Kaua‘i households are relatively stable in terms of housing, food, and other basic necessities, one third are very concerned or somewhat concerned about their ability to pay the following month’s rent or mortgage. These concerns are being exacerbated by the approaching termination dates of state and federal financial assistance programs, including the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, moratoriums on rental evictions, forbearance on government-guaranteed mortgages, and moratoriums on utility shutoffs.

“The 2020 Kaua‘i CASPER collected invaluable data that we can use to inform state and county emergency response operations and enable the Department of Health and Kaua‘i County to better meet the community health and other resource needs over the next few months,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kaua‘i District Health Officer.

Nearly one-third of households (32%) surveyed indicated they are experiencing emotional distress related to the pandemic. Of those, 21% did not know where to seek help if they need it. Most Kaua‘i households seem to be weathering the pandemic moderately well, with 60% reporting a low stress level. However, 34% reported a medium level of stress and 5% reported their stress level as high, near the breaking point.  

Mental health resources are limited on Kaua‘i, where relatively high rates of suicide and behavioral health needs are a long-standing problem, as in many rural counties. Kaua‘i suffered four suicide deaths in the beginning of May. The report recommends the health department, mental health service providers, and the county continue to work together to improve access to culturally appropriate, affordable behavioral health services, including non-traditional approaches such as telehealth visits.

“The impact of the pandemic on mental health may continue for months and potentially years,” Dr. Berreman said.

Financial Assistance Program 
The report recommends using CARES Act funds for direct assistance programs such as rental assistance, small business loans, child care programs, and behavioral health programs. As the response shifts from disease control to the provision of much-needed resources and support systems, the state should consider the development of a temporary workforce program focused on infrastructure improvements and conservation projects for individuals who may not be rehired because of a diminished visitor industry.

Health Impact
A third of Kaua‘i households (34%) have at least one member at high risk of severe disease if infected with COVID-19. To mitigate risk of infection, the report recommends the state consider targeted food and essential item delivery programs to high-risk individuals, including those over 70 years of age and those with serious underlying conditions, while emphasizing the safer-at-home recommendations.

Less than 5% of households reported that a member had been tested for COVID-19; none of those received a positive result. Only 4.3% of households indicated that a member had been sick with what they thought was COVID-19 but didn’t get tested.

This data suggests that residents know when and how to get tested for COVID-19 and explains why there have been no new cases on Kaua‘i since mid-April. As restrictions are lifted and businesses start to re-open, the Department of Health will continue to emphasize the importance of staying home when sick and how and when to get tested. The ability to identify, isolate, trace, and quarantine close contacts is essential to ensuring a second wave of infections doesn’t overwhelm the health care system. Additional capacity for contact tracing and disease investigation is under continuing development with Department of Health staff and Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps volunteers. Current capacity of more than 50 contact tracers exceeds the nationally recommended standard of 30 tracers per 100,000 population.

Survey Methodology
Door-to-door surveys were conducted in 30 randomly selected census tracts within the county. Survey teams were comprised of DOH staff with support from the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency, Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps, and the American Red Cross. Selected households were asked about their knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to COVID-19, as well as the financial and mental health impacts on households.

The CASPER survey methodology was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a way to rapidly assess the health and other resource needs of a community after a disaster.

Kaua‘i District Health Office to Conduct Survey to Assess COVID-19 Impact

 The Hawai‘i Department of Health’s (DOH) Kaua‘i District Health Office (KDHO) will conduct a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response, known as a CASPER survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Kaua‘i households.

Survey teams will go door-to-door, April 22-24, to 30 census tracts that are weighted towards more populated areas within the county. Seven houses within each tract will be systematically selected and surveyed. Survey teams are comprised of DOH staff with support from the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency, Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps, and the American Red Cross. Teams will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing will be observed. Participating households can complete the survey over the phone, if preferred.

“We greatly appreciate the participation of Kaua‘i residents in this effort to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and immediate needs of our community,” said Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman.

Selected households will be asked about their knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to COVID-19, as well as the financial and mental health impacts on people in their households. Team members will have on vests identifying themselves as part of the DOH-CASPER survey team and will carry identification cards. All survey responses are confidential, and names and addresses won’t be collected.

The CASPER survey methodology was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a way to rapidly assess the health and other resource needs of a community after a disaster. The data gathered will help the County of Kaua‘i and Department of Health meet the immediate needs of Kaua‘i families.

If you have questions about the CASPER survey, please call:

Lauren Guest

Hawai‘i State Department of Health

Public Health Preparedness Planner

Kaua‘i District Health Office

(808) 241-3496

Hōkūleʻa Greeted by Hundreds During Her Hanalei Arrival

Crewmembers aboard Hōkūleʻa and sister canoe Hikianalia arrived this morning to Kauaʻi greeted by scores of outrigger paddlers, ocean enthusiasts and a pod of dolphins as they entered Hanalei Bay. Hundreds of ʻohana and supporters lined the pier to near-capacity where the crew was greeted ashore by students, Hawaiian practitioners and a hula halau and other supporters from across the island.

Voyagers departed from Haleiwa, Oʻahu yesterday and reached their destination after 12 hours of sailing through the night amid clear skies and steady tradewinds. Hōkūleʻa was captained by Kamaki Worthington, North Shore resident, while navigation student Koral McCarthy provided direction via traditional Polynesian wayfinding techniques.

“Hōkūleʻa pulls people together. We prepare for her visit like we would for a visit from Tutu. She teaches us about respect and challenges us to rise up to our kuleana. She reminds us how we treat her is how we should treat our earth and each other,” said McCarthy who also coordinated arrival ceremonies and much of the week’s coming events.

The Kauaʻi port stop and outreach events were planned by the Polynesian Voyaging Society and coordinated by local community members and supporters as part of the Mahalo Hawaiʻi, Sail, an extension of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The sail includes similar visits to every major Hawaiian island into 2018.

During the 3-day Kauaʻi engagement, crewmembers will participate with the community in events and activities that will highlight the recent Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage as well as the work being done within Kauaʻi communities to care for Island Earth.

Events during the stop will include outreach opportunities, local school visits, cultural exchanges, and crew presentations. The following events have been scheduled to date. The public is encouraged to check hokulea.com and Facebook for daily updates.

Kauaʻi Engagement Schedule (*All dates and times subject to change)

Monday, September 25
• A.M. Scheduled school tours and visits – by appointment only
• 2:30-5:30pm Dockside outreach at Hanalei Bay Pier – public welcome
• P.M. ʻOahi O Makana, a Hawaiian protocol event – public viewing from Hanalei Bay to Haʻena areas

Tuesday, September 25
• A.M. Scheduled dockside school tours and visits – by appointment only
• P.M. Hōkūleʻa tentative departure for Oahu – public welcome

Saturday, September 30 (post departure)
• 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mālama Hulēʻia workday at the fishpond at Niumalu Park

October through May port dates will be posted as they become available.

School Bus Drivers Needed for Maui & Kauai Routes Before Fall Semester Begins On August 7

The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) to service routes on Maui and Kauai. A current shortage of school bus drivers may affect Maui and Kauai routes when school begins on Monday, August 7.

HIDOE is seeking school bus drivers with valid Commercial Drivers Licenses to service routes on Maui and Kauai. For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Photo Credit: Department of Education

“The Department is working with our bus contractors and transportation partners to minimize any impacts to our students and families when the fall semester begins,” said Assistant Superintendent Dann Carlson. “Some school bus routes are being consolidated and many will operate normally, but we hope to sign up additional drivers before the school year begins.”

For a limited time, school bus contractors are offering hiring bonuses and increased wages. Interested CDL drivers should contact the Student Transportation Services Branch at (808) 586-0170 as soon as possible.

Rescued Hawaiian Short-Eared Owl Killed In Auto Collision

A young Pueo, or Hawaiian Short-eared Owl, rescued in late March, was killed by a car on the highway between Waimea and Hanapepe two months after it had been released. The owl was originally spotted on March 22, 2017 by Dr. André Raine of the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project (KESRP), who found it on the side of the road in Ele ele where it had also been struck by a car. He took the injured Pueo to the Save our Shearwaters (SOS) facility at the Kaua‘i Humane Society for treatment and rehabilitation.

Raine said, “This is a sad end to a successful rehabilitation story, which involved the hard work of the dedicated staff at SOS and the Hawaii Wildlife Center who were successful in returning this young bird to health and releasing it back into the wild in late April. Tragically, as with so many of our endangered native birds, the Pueo was struck again by an automobile – this time fatally. This serves as yet another reminder for all of us who drive on Kauai’s roads, that we need to slow down and be aware of owls, Nene, fledgling seabirds and other birds that may be feeding or flying alongside or near roads and highways.”

Tracy Anderson of SOS, who examined the dead owl, said that the injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle. The bird was found 6 miles (as the bird flies) from the release location and was in good body condition which meant that she had been hunting and feeding successfully post-release. Owls are often attracted to roadsides by rats and mice, which in turn are attracted by the easy pickings of food scraps and rubbish discarded by people. Anderson reminds people, “The act of throwing trash out your car window not only impacts the environment visually, but can have direct and detrimental effects on wild birds like pueo and nene.”

Over the past few months a public education campaign was initiated by DLNR and other partners to encourage people to watch for nene (native Hawaiian goose and Hawai‘i State Bird) alongside roadways. This included a public service announcement (PSA) that aired repeatedly on Kaua‘i’s cable television system, news releases and videos, and additional roadside signage in areas where nene are frequently spotted.

This is not the only Pueo found dead on the roads – two more dead Pueo were found on the same day as the rehabilitated bird in other parts of the island.

Another Pueo, also likely hurt in a car-bird collision on O‘ahu’s North Shore earlier this year could not be rehabilitated and had to be put to sleep. An entire family of nene depicted in a DLNR video, resting and feeding near the Hanalei River Bridge on Kaua‘i were also killed by a car.

Raine, Anderson, and others who work with native, wild birds agree that if drivers slow down and pay close attention in areas populated by birds, this will help reduce the number of deadly collisions between birds and cars.

Eleven Arrests, Marijuana Plants, and Illegal Crossbow Mark Latest Napali Enforcement Effort

Work to restore the Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park to its true wilderness character continued during a three-day law enforcement operation this week. A dozen officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Dept. of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division arrested eleven people for being in a closed area without a permit in the Kalalau area of the park.  A twenty-year-old man, who could not produce an identification, was handcuffed and flown out of the park and booked on charges at the Kaua‘i Police Department.  So far in May, a total of 28 people have been arrested for failing to have the permit required for traveling past the two-mile marker on the famed Kalalau Trail.  During law enforcement efforts over the past two years more than 200 people have been arrested.

“We still have work to do,” commented DOCARE Enforcement Chief Robert Farrell. On this, his first trip to the Nāpali Coast since becoming state conservation enforcement chief, he joined his officers as they hiked up the rugged Kalalau Valley in search of illegal squatter camps.  On Wednesday they located numerous camps.  At two, they pulled up small marijuana plants.  At one they confiscated an illegal crossbow. Both camps are well established and elaborate.  One, where squatters had recently posted a web video depicting a brazen party and all the comforts of home, had a pizza oven, an enclosure with a queen-sized bed, what appeared to be an alcohol still, and an extensive system of solar and battery powered lights for its marijuana growing operation.

Farrell added, “The Nāpali coast is very, very remote. It’s logistically challenging to get officers to the area and it’s difficult to have them stay for long-periods of time for sustained enforcement. Beyond satellite phones, there’s no communications. There are a lot of places for people to run and hide, and though clearly some of the camps had significant populations, once they know we’re coming in, they hide.  DOCARE plans to increase its frequency of patrols, which unfortunately means shorting attention in other areas.  The division fully supports the Division of State Parks’ continuing efforts to secure funding for dedicated, full-time staff in Hawai‘i’s largest and most remote park to provide education, outreach, emergency response assistance, and law enforcement notification.”

The chief, who has previously worked as a game warden in California as well as in the field on Hawaiʻi Island, said, “What’s happening in Kalalau is reminiscent of illegal pot growing operations on state and federal lands in California.  Like the California marijuana growers, the Kalalau squatters have no regard for the law or for protection of natural and cultural resources.

He added, “People with permits should be able to enjoy one of the most unique and beautiful landscapes on the planet without the fear of being harassed or having their experience diminished or threatened by those who simply do what they want, where they want, and how they want.  We are continuing to have zero tolerance for these kinds of behaviors and when we catch you, you will be arrested.”

The Nāpali coast enforcement operations are fully supported by DLNR leadership. Chair Suzanne Case said, “Law abiding local residents and visitors from all over the world get permits to make the challenging and rewarding 11-mile, one-way hike to the State designated camping area at Kalalau Beach.  We’re charged with determining the carrying capacity of both the natural resource and manmade features there, and want to ensure that visitors to this incredible place take away positive memories.  Many have planned for a life-time to do the Kalalau backpack, and we intend to honor their dreams and accomplishments by ensuring Nāpali is a true wilderness.”

May 2017 Napali Enforcement VNR from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

New Study Supports the Rarity and Limited Range of a Kauai Endemic Bird

A new study provides the first rigorous population estimate of an enigmatic endangered bird species found only on Kauai, the Puaiohi or Small Kauai Thrush: 494 birds. Scientists have long believed that the species was very rare, but it had heretofore eluded a precise count due to its secretive demeanor and the rugged, inaccessible terrain it inhabits deep in Kauai’s Alakai Plateau.

The Puaiohi was listed as Endangered in 1967, when the Endangered Species Act became law, because of its rarity and single-island residency. One of the first goals mentioned in the plan for its recovery was to estimate the size of the population. Accomplishing this goal was hampered by a lack of resources, the species’ cryptic nature and its remote habitat.

“Population estimates are a cornerstone of species conservation efforts,” said Dr. Eben Paxton of the U.S. Geological Survey, a co-author of the study. “They are the benchmark against which managers monitor the success of their conservation efforts. If managers don’t know how many individuals exist to begin with, it is impossible to tell if a population is increasing or decreasing in response to conservation activities.”

Dr. Lisa Crampton, the lead author of the study, added: “We are thrilled that we finally have accomplished this objective.”

Once found island-wide, the Puaiohi’s range and population size has been reduced by a number of threats: habitat loss and degradation, non-native predators, and introduced mosquito-borne diseases, such as avian malaria. Previous research by Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project and its colleagues has suggested that Puaiohi are somewhat tolerant of avian malaria, and rat predation on nesting females is likely limiting the Puaiohi population’s ability to grow in size. The new study also suggests invasive weeds at lower elevation may restrict Puaiohi’s range.

Given these results, conservation efforts for this species will focus on controlling introduced predators and reversing habitat loss from degradation and invasive weeds.

“Three hundred self-resetting rodent traps have been deployed in the core of the Puaiohi’s range, thanks to funding from the successful crowdfunding campaign – #BirdsNotRats, American Bird Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and US Fish and Wildlife Federation,” stated Dr. Crampton. She continued, “This study allowed us to estimate Puaiohi distribution in remote parts of the species’ range that are difficult to survey, and identify new hotspots of Puaiohi where we should implement these management activities, which will accelerate the species’ rate of recovery.”

KFBRP, USGS Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, Diegmann Science Services, and University of Hawaii Hilo Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit worked together develop a special methodology to survey this cryptic bird species in this difficult environment and to use both field-collected and remoted-sensed data to generate a population estimate. KFBRP is a collaboration of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife and the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit at the University of Hawaii Manoa that is responsible for conducting research that aids the conservation of Kauai’s endangered forest birds.

Hawaii Representative Issues Statement on Zuckerberg Reconsidering Lawsuits

“I am heartened to hear that Mark Zuckerberg is reconsidering his lawsuits against the indigenous kuleana land owners on Kauai,” said State Rep. Kaniela Ing.

“This shows the power everyday people wield when we band together to stand up for Native rights and our ‘aina. The people’s voice can and will overcome big money and celebrity–even against the fifth richest man in the world,” Ing said, referencing the videos and articles he shared on Facebook regarding the issue, which garnered over 170,000 views and thousands of shares each.

“Hawaii has always been a welcoming place, but over time, we have learned what exploitation can look like. In his eagerness to join our island community, Zuckerberg may have overlooked the diligence needed to dutifully enculturate and address an understandably skeptical community.

“I mahalo Mark Zuckerberg for his words of aloha and willingness to talk, but I will not stand down until he follows through with action.”

Ing said three steps Mr. Zuckerberg could take: “(1) officially drop the lawsuits; and, (2) donate to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to help protect native families from future Quiet Title actions. Then, (3) join us at the table to restart a positive dialog as mutual stewards of land and culture.”

“In the meantime, we should all maintain aloha and grant Mr. Zuckerberg a chance to meet his promise to talk story, explain his intentions, and make right with the community. We will be here watching and willing to share our mana’o.”

Delta Announces New Daily Nonstop Flights Between Seattle and Kauai

George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), issued the following statement regarding the announcement that Delta Air Lines will be launching daily nonstop flights between Seattle and Kauai beginning this December.

“Delta’s expansion of service to Kauai from its Pacific Northwest hub speaks to the confidence the airline has in the Garden Isle to drive demand from travelers in the greater Seattle area and nationally.

“Reliable air access extending throughout the Hawaiian Islands is instrumental to our tourism industry’s continued viability to support businesses and residents statewide. Delta’s new Seattle-Lihue service strengthens Hawaii’s ties to one of our major gateway cities, and will make it easier for travelers anywhere in the mainland U.S. to make daily flight connections to Kauai.

“It’s gratifying that Delta has factored Kauai into its nationwide expansion plans considering the options available to the airline. HTA meets with Delta’s route planners on a regular basis, which included the Airline Summit we hosted last September at the Hawaii Tourism Conference. As HTA does with all carriers, we provided information on the advantages of increasing flights to Hawaii, especially to the neighbor islands.

“Kauai’s economy will benefit significantly from this new service. Delta’s Seattle-Lihue flights on Boeing 757 aircraft will add 63,510 air seats annually to Kauai, generating an estimated $77.9 million in direct visitor spending for the island, and $9.1 million in tax revenue for the State.”
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50 Nene Killed by Vehicles on Kaua’i Highways in the Last Two Years

In the final weeks of 2016, eight Nene (Hawaiian Goose) have been killed by vehicles along a two mile stretch of the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha. Nene are only found in Hawai‘i and are listed as endangered due to their low number, with an estimated 1,200 remaining on Kaua‘i. In the past two years 50 Nene have been struck and killed by cars across the roadways of Kaua‘i. Typically the majority of vehicle strikes occur in Hanalei and Kilauea, however the most recent strikes are occurring on the west side of the island.

It is believed that 25,000 Nene were present in the Hawaiian Islands when Captain Cook arrived in 1778. By the mid 1940’s only 50 birds remained. Since then, through captive breeding efforts and extensive predator control the population is beginning to grow with almost 3,000 birds statewide. Even with ongoing conservation efforts Nene are still considered to be the rarest goose species in the world.

Nene begin building nests and laying eggs as early as August although the greatest number of road strikes occur  between December and April during the peak of the breeding and molting season. It is during this time of year that both adults and goslings are flightless for a period of time and are especially vulnerable. Nene are often seen foraging along the edges of highways  and ditches as a result of regular mowing and runoff from the pavement creating especially desirable grass in these areas.

Jean Olbert, a Nene biologist with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) said, “With recent rains on the west side, reports of Nene crossing the highway in Kekaha have increased dramatically. Nene regularly cross the road in the evening and early morning hours making it even more important to be on the lookout during these times. Nene remain with their mates for life and travel with their families during this time of year. After a Nene is killed on a road the remaining family members are often unwilling to leave the body, resulting in multiple birds being killed over a short period of time.”

Nene crossing signs have recently been posted by the Department of Transportation along the Kaumuali‘i Highway in Kekaha and the Kuhio Highway in Hanalei in regions where birds frequently cross roadways. DLNR/DOFAW is working with county and state transportation departments and federal partners to potentially add more signs in high-strike zones. Drivers are asked to please slow down and be extra attentive in these areas, especially in low light conditions.

To report an injured or dead bird on Kaua‘i please contact the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife at 808-274-3433.

Large Fishing Net Removed From Beach at Kapa’a

A large fishing net, estimated to weigh about two tons, was removed from the beach at Kapa‘a fronting the Coral Reef Resort, yesterday.

Staff from the Kaua‘i office of the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR), Department of Land and Natural Resources first learned about the net mass very late Wednesday evening via a posting on social media. After an initial on-site assessment early Thursday morning by Kaua‘i DOBOR District Manager Joseph Borden, DOBOR staffers were dispatched to move and secure the net.

As far as staff could tell, no marine life was trapped in the next, and not even barnacles were evident.

Two sizable, heavy trucks with chains were required to roll the partially buried in sand net mass above the high wash of the waves and onto the property of the Coral Reef Resort hotel.

The net was staged there with the permission of the hotel for removal today. The net mass and any debris that came loose during the removal have been collected by Conserve Kauai and the net mass will be shipped to O‘ahu for recycling/disposal.

Reports of large nets or marine debris on shorelines may be made to dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov.

EPA Closes Pflueger Stormwater Case After Successful Restoration of Kauai Property

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the successful conclusion of its case against James Pflueger for construction activities that damaged his former property and the beach and coral reefs at Pila’a on Kauai. The consent decree settling the Clean Water Act violations was closed after Pflueger stabilized and restored the slopes and streams.

Pflueger Stormwater Case“Thanks to the work completed under this settlement, this once-degraded land has a healthy population of native trees and shrubs and restored stream channels,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With continued care by the new owners, these restoration efforts can be sustained for the future.”

EPA initiated its case after Pflueger conducted extensive grading and construction at the 378-acre coastal site without obtaining necessary Clean Water Act permits. Those activities included excavating a hillside to expose a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and dumping dirt and rock into three perennial streams. As a result, massive discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowed to the ocean at Pila’a Bay in November 2001.

The settlement required Pflueger to build a wall to stabilize the road cut adjacent to the shoreline, remove dam material in streams, install erosion controls on roadways and trails, terrace slopes to slow runoff, use native plants to control erosion, and control invasive plants and animals on the property. He was also required to reconstruct natural rock-lined stream beds and reestablish native plants along the banks.

The 2006 stormwater settlement was the largest for federal Clean Water Act violations at a single site, by a single landowner, in the United States. Pflueger paid $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawaii and the United States, and was expected to spend approximately $5.3 million to conduct the required restoration efforts.

The State of Hawaii was a co-plaintiff in EPA’s case against Pflueger, and the settlement was joined by the Limu Coalition and Kilauea neighborhood organizations, which had also filed a lawsuit against Pflueger.

EPA and local community organizations involved in the settlement conducted oversight inspections throughout a ten-year restoration effort that was slowed by funding obstacles and the necessity of adapting the restoration projects to changing field conditions.

Search for Possible Missing Kayaker Near Kauai

The Coast Guard is searching for a possible missing kayaker approximately half a mile northeast of Kilauea Point on the north shore of Kauai, Saturday.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Kauai received a call at 11:11 a.m. from a good Samaritan on shore stating that she noticed an unmanned, adrift yellow kayak in the area.

The Kauai Fire Department located the kayak with dive gear that included fins, a wet suit, paddle and weights aboard. The Fire Department searched in the vicinity of the kayak and found no one in distress.

KayakThe kayak is approximately 15 feet long with the words “KAYAKKAUAI.COM” and “OCEAN KAYAK,” and a single line hanging off the side. There are no other markings on the kayak.

A 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Station Kauai is actively searching the area.

No one has been reported missing or in distress in the area.

The Coast Guard advises the public to register and label all watercraft and equipment with contact information in order to quickly account for owners and prevent any unnecessary searches.

Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.

The Coast Guard is asking mariners to keep a sharp eye out for anyone possibly in distress.

Anyone with information can help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at (808) 842-2600.

Coast Guard Locates Boaters Who Were in Possible Distress Off Kauai

Two boaters who were in possible distress off Kalalau Beach, Kauai, were located safely ashore Tuesday.

The Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received the initial report at 6:30 p.m. Monday from a concerned hiker who observed two people in a small inflatable boat with an outboard engine striking a reef just off the beach. The boaters then attempted to hand paddle their black 8-foot inflatable boat out to sea toward Haena Beach Park. The boaters were observed unsuccessfully attempting to restart their engine. They were later able to restart their engine and returned to shore.

Coast Guard Station Kauai coordinated efforts with the Kauai Police and Fire Departments to check boat ramps and landing areas along the coast. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point was launched at 10:30 p.m. and began searching. The Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island, home ported in Honolulu, arrived on the Napali Coast at 6 a.m. Tuesday to join the search effort.

The Coast Guard advises all mariners to carry safety equipment to include a VHF radio, flares and life jackets. For more information about boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.

 

Coast Guard Seeking Public’s Help in Identifying Two Boaters Possibly in Distress off Kauai

The Coast Guard is seeking the public’s help in identifying two boaters who were seen in a possible distress situation off Kalalau Beach, Kauai Monday.

The Coast Guard Sector Command Center received a call at 6:30 p.m. from a concerned hiker who observed two people in a small inflatable boat with an outboard engine striking a reef just off the beach. The boaters then attempted to hand paddle their black 8-foot inflatable boat out to sea toward Haena Beach Park.  The boaters were observed unsuccessfully attempting to restart their engine.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

Coast Guard Station Kauai coordinated efforts with the Kauai Police and Fire Departments to check boat ramps and landing areas along the coast to verify the safety of the two men, but have yet to find anyone matching the description. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Barbers Point was launched at 10:30 p.m. and began searching for the boat, but could not locate them. The Coast Guard Cutter Galveston Island, home ported in Honolulu, arrived on the Napali Coast at 6 a.m. Tuesday to join the ongoing search effort.

Anyone with information regarding the two boaters’ whereabouts or safety is requested to contact the Coast Guard Command Center immediately at (808) 842-2600.

State Develops Voluntary Guidelines for Pesticides Use on Kauai

The Pesticides Branch of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has completed voluntary pesticide-use guidelines and established the “Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program” to provide more information and education on pesticide use on the island.

Good Neighbor Program

Click to view the report

The voluntary pesticide-use guideline will go into effect on Dec. 1, 2013. It will apply to the five agricultural companies mentioned in Kauai County Bill 2491 (Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer, Syngenta, BASF, and Kauai Coffee Company) and assures that adequate buffer zones are in place when restricted-use pesticides (RUP) are applied.

The voluntary guidelines are in addition to federal guidelines established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The department used existing federal worker protection standards and increased buffer zones to provide extra protection for residents in areas surrounding these farming operations,” said HDOA Deputy Scott Enright. “We will also be requesting that the Legislature establish 10 additional inspector and pesticide education positions statewide in this upcoming legislative session.”

Under the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program, neighbors who are located nearest to the farm operations will be the primary focus of continuing outreach efforts to provide information on pesticide use and to discuss any concerns.

Under the Voluntary RUP Notice section of the program, the guidelines will register schools, hospitals and medical clinics that are within 1,000 feet of the farming operations so they may receive a weekly schedule of any planned RUP application near their property. Registered entities will also be notified at least 24 hours in advance should there be any change in the weekly RUP application schedule.

The guidelines also require a 100-foot buffer zone between application areas and schools, medical facilities and residential properties, unless the EPA regulations are stricter. By law, all requirements found on the pesticide label must be followed.

The companies are also required to file a monthly report on RUP use with HDOA’s Pesticides Branch. The report will be available for public viewing at the state’s Open Data portal: https://data.hawaii.gov

The program will be assessed after one year.

Missile Defense System Intercepts Target in Test Off Kauai

The Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Pacific Command and sailors aboard the USS Lake Erie conducted a successful flight test today of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system, intercepting a ballistic missile target over the Pacific Ocean.

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The Lake Erie-launched missile successfully intercepted a complex short-range ballistic missile target. (U.S. Navy photo) Click to Enlarge

An SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) during a Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy test of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. The Lake Erie-launched missile successfully intercepted a complex short-range ballistic missile target. (U.S. Navy photo) Click to Enlarge

A complex separating short-range ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, and flew northwest toward a broad ocean area of the Pacific Ocean. The USS Lake Erie detected and tracked the missile with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar. The ship, equipped with the second-generation Aegis BMD weapon system, developed a fire control solution and launched two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles to engage the target.

The first SM-3 that was launched successfully intercepted the target warhead. This was the first salvo mission of two SM-3 Block IB guided missiles launched against a single separating target, officials said, adding that they will assess and evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.

The test exercised the latest version of the second-generation Aegis BMD Weapon System, capable of engaging longer-range and more sophisticated ballistic missiles, officials said. This was an operationally realistic test, as the target’s launch time and bearing are not known in advance, they added, and the target complex was the most difficult target engaged to date.

This was the fourth consecutive successful intercept test of the SM-3 Block IB guided missile with the Aegis BMD 4.0 Weapon System and the 27th successful intercept in 33 flight test attempts for the Aegis BMD program since flight testing began in 2002.

Across all Ballistic Missile Defense System programs, this is the 63rd successful hit-to-kill intercept in 79 flight test attempts since 2001.

Coast Guard to Host Open House for Proposed Construction of Rescue 21 Radio Antenna

The Coast Guard will host an open house on the Island on Kauai for the local community to meet representatives, ask questions and voice opinions for the proposed construction of a Rescue 21 radio antenna.

  • WHAT: Hosting open house for the local community of the Island of Kauai.
  • WHERE: Elsie H. Elementary School cafeteria, 4319 Hardy St. Lihue, Kauai, 96766
  • WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

What is Rescue 21?

Rescue 21 Equipment

Rescue 21 Equipment

Rescue 21 replaces the National Distress and Response System, which has been in use since the 1970s. Rescue 21 can more accurately identify the location of callers in distress via towers that generate lines of bearing to the source of VHF radio transmissions, thereby significantly reducing search time. Rescue 21 extends coverage out to a minimum of 23 miles from the coastline. It improves information sharing and coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal, state and local first responders, and can also identify suspected hoax calls, conserving valuable response resources.

The Coast Guard Rescue 21 Project is proposing to construct a Remote Fixed Facility to provide communications for the Coast Guard’s Sector Honolulu Area of Responsibility. The proposed RFF will be Coast Guard owned and built on the Island of Kauai, on a leased portion of TMK (4) 3-8-002:005, in Hanamaulu, Kauai County, Hawaii. The Coast Guard proposes to construct a 68-foot tall monopole that will include a direction finding antenna mounted on top, three antennas installed at various locations, a mounting pole and a lightening rod. The total height of the monopole and all antennas will be 80-feet. The proposed monopole will be in a fenced compound. Associated equipment at the site will include a prefabricated equipment shelter that would be no more than 15 feet by 24 feet, a 20-kilowatt emergency backup generator with a 300-gallon diesel belly tank.

The Coast Guard has prepared a draft Environmental Assessment that evauluates the potential environmental impacts resulting from the construction of a RFF communications monopole and associated equipment near the community of Hanama’ulu, Kauai County, Hawaii. This draft EA supplements the National Distress and Response System Modernization Project’s Programmatic EA of 1998 and its Supplemental Programmatic EA of 2002. The 1998 PEA and 2002 SPEA are the first level of documents upon which subsequent National Environmental Act analysis and documentation, including this EA, are tiered for individual actions and their site-specific impacts.

This notice announces the availability of the proposed RFF Kalepa draft EA for public review at the following locations:

1) The Lihue Public Library, 4344 Hardy St., Lihue, Kauai, 96766
2) Hawaii State Library, 478 S. King St., Honolulu, 96813

The draft EA is also available for review at the following website: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg4/cg47/NEPAhot.asp.

Persons wishing to provide comments should contact:

Ms. Sherrill Thompson (JR07-0905),
COMMANDANT (CG-9331),
Environmental Protection Specialist – Rescue 21 Program
U.S. Coast Guard
2100 2nd St. SW
Washington D.C., 20593

Via electronic mail: Sherrill.E.Thompson@uscg.mil; Via fax: (202) 475-3916; or by telephone at (202) 475-3175.