Environment & Ecology

What’s New is Not Good: Biosecurity Challenges in Hawaii

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

What’s New is Not Good: Biosecurity Challenges in Hawaii

Community Contributed

Fireweed, Senecio madagascariensis, is a poisonous pasture weed introduced to Molokai on cattle and hay. Photo by Glenn Teves

By Glenn I. Teves, UH Molokai Extension Agent

Biosecurity is a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of introduction into Hawaii of infectious diseases, quarantined pests, invasive alien species, and living modified organisms. Each year, approximately 10 to 15 new major insect pests are accidentally introduced onto Oahu. On top of this, many other seemingly unimportant pests are also accidentally introduced, though we may not fully understand their impacts at that time.

Oahu’s major ports of entry — including harbors, airports, and military installations — are the main entry points for these pests, but they can also be sent through mail systems.…

Water Conservation and Irrigation Workshop

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

UH CTAHR Molokai Extension News Release

There aren’t too many things in Hawaii we measure in the billions.  The size of the state’s economy is about $67 billion, the volcano at the Hawaii Volcano National Park produces about 6.4 billion cubic feet of lava per day and the 100-acre Molokai Irrigation System reservoir has a storage capacity of 1.2 billion gallons.  But if we want to see 50 percent of Molokai that is dry almost all year round to green up, it will require 389.6 billion gallons of water per year.  That is because Molokai has the highest recorded annual average pan evaporation rate in the state, at 118 inches per year according to historic data in DNLR reference “Pan Evaporation: State of Hawaii 1894-1983.”  Following Molokai, there are sites on Hawaii Island with 108 inches, Maui with 99 inches, Oahu and Kauai with 98 inches per year.…

Mana`e Moku Community Meeting

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Community Contributed

By Walter Ritte, Aha Kiole Planning and Consultation

The second meeting regarding the Mana`e Watershed Plan, which calls for extensive fencing of our mountains from Kapualei to Halawa, will be held Friday, Oct. 25. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Kilohana.

The first Mana`e Moku meeting was well-attended, and presentations were made explaining that the government and private landowners have formed a partnership to manage our mountains. A draft plan has been submitted and now community participation and input is needed.

The draft plan calls for the “improvement and protection of the existing watershed” in our mountains, relying on fencing as the primary solution.…

It’s Wedgie Season

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Nene o Molokai News Release

October and November is fledging season for uau kani, when young birds fledge to a life at sea.  Wedge-tailed shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus), or “wedgies,” are part of a mixed flock of seabirds that commercial fishermen rely upon to locate schools of ahi and other marketable fish. Adult birds leave coastal colonies at dawn to feed on fish and return after dark. Behavior while in these colonies is generally nocturnal and throughout the night birds emit weird moans, groans and loud screams, thus they are nicknamed the “moaning bird.”

Seabirds were held in high esteem by ancient Hawaiians.…

A Return to Konohiki

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Community-based proposal to manage Hawaii’s resources

Last month in Kalaupapa, the state-mandated Aha Moku Advisory Council presented a plan that could change the way natural resources are managed in Hawaii. The plan calls for a return to the konihiki system, in which those knowledgeable about the ways of the ocean set guidelines for marine food gathering using traditional Hawaiian methods.

“The Aha Moku is set up to look at evolving power back to the communities as far as resource management,” said Sen. Kalani English, who was among a handful of legislators who attended the Kalaupapa gathering. “How do we do that within state law… that’s what we’re figuring out.”

The konohiki were those in ancient Hawaii who continued teaching, assessing and learning generationally in an unbroken line of distinguished performance outcomes, according to the Aha Moku’s konohiki initiative.…

East Slope Watershed Protection

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

East Slope Watershed Protection

East Slope Watershed Project map. Light green areas represent proposed East Slope land, dark green is zoned conservation, dotted yellow lines show proposed fence lines and red lines represent natural barriers (cliffs.) All land west of the East Slope area is already part of the East Molokai Watershed Partnership. Map courtesy Steph Dunbar-Co.

Planners, landowners, natural resource managers and community members are putting their heads together to protect one of Molokai’s most important resources — water. Many have noticed deterioration of native forests in recent years, especially on the east end, because of invasive species, and they say something needs to be done.…

State Epidemic Threatens Endangered Waterfowl

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Protecting Hawaii’s wetlands and endangered water birds from modern development and invasive species has always been a concern for state wildlife departments. However, according to the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), the leading threat to Hawaii’s native and migrant waterfowl species lies beneath the surface, in a toxin causing epidemic losses on Molokai and throughout the state.

Avian botulism outbreaks are the number one killer of waterfowl, according to DOFAW wildlife biologist Norma Creps. It is extremely important that wetland and wildlife management understands what avian botulism is and how to stop it from spreading because we have a lot of important migratory species and they can all be affected by it, she said.…

Stuffed and Fluffed

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Stuffed and Fluffed

After completing over 40 taxidermies in her home, Arleone Dibben-Young takes endangered Hawaiian Coot taxidermies out of their bags. Photo by Jessica Ahles

Taxidermy Hobby Contributes to Science

Arleone Dibben-Young crouched in her living room and gestured to her less-than-lively guests. An albatross occupied her coffee table, Hawaiian Coots gathered on her rug, and a barn owl lay near her couch. She has been sharing her home with more than 40 taxidermy birds she has collected, prepared, stuffed and mounted for research.

“It’s kind of a weird hobby, isn’t it?” she laughed.

Dibben-Young, Molokai’s water bird researcher, has dedicated the last three months to clean out her freezer of birds she’s acquired for the past 10 years, making taxidermies, or skins, she plans to donate to the Bishop Museum on Oahu.…

Rising from the Rocks

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Rising from the Rocks

Native plants making a comeback

Editorial by Catherine Cluett

We’re bumping along a rocky track, ascending steeply through a landscape some would call lunar. Ahead of us is mostly gray—Kawela’s barren, stony slopes and gulches, topped by a thin line of green where the mountaintops meet the sky. But I can’t help turning in my seat of our all-terrain vehicle toward the view behind us—each bump expands a breathtaking panorama of Maui to the east, Lanai’s slender back, the turquoise fingers of Molokai’s south shore reef, and the slopes of Pu`u Nana to Molokai’s west.

Panorama from about 3,000 ft. elevation showing Maui on the left, Kaho`olawe, Lanai in the center, and Molokai’s south shore reef.…

Catching Invasives

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

U.S. Department of Agriculture Molokai inspector Chevy Levasa said it was just a regular day at work for her, but a finding a fungi last year landed her some recognition. She now holds the first report in the U.S. of a strain of fungi called frog-eye spot, or P. morindae, on a noni leaf on Molokai.

“It’s such a regular part of my job, I don’t think much of it,” Levasa said.

A request went out from the USDA office on Oahu for inspectors on every island to collect noni leaf samples, and Levasa — along with Molokai Invasive Species Committee leader Lori Buchanan and her crew — responded.…