Environment

News stories regarding Molokai’s outdoor environment

A Bird in the Hand Volunteers band shearwater shorebirds

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A Bird in the Hand Volunteers band shearwater shorebirds

Photo by Catherine Cluett Pactol

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

As dusk fell on the Mo`omomi coastline, silhouetted birds began to swoop over the shore and across the grasses and native plants of the dunes. Donning their headlamps, a dozen biologists, conservationists and volunteers stood by, waiting for the birds to settle. Then, in the pitch blackness and gusty wind, the group broke into small teams and vanished into the darkness.

Brandishing their flashlights and tools, the teams searched the ground for piles of sand and holes that would indicate a burrow. The inhabitants pf the holes are Wedge-tailed Shearwater, or `Ua`u kani, an indigenous shorebird with gray-brown and white feathers, a long, hooked beak and a wingspan of more than three feet.…

35 Years of Agriculture

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

35 Years of Agriculture

A recent Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture (DOA) land use study shows dramatic changes in agriculture land use in the last 35 years, both on Molokai and statewide. Most of Molokai’s agriculture is in the Ho`olehua area, on DHHL, state and Molokai Ranch land. According to the DOA report, the largest ag land users in 2015 — farming about 2,300 acres — are seed companies that primarily lease from Molokai Ranch. Prior to 1980, many Ho`olehua homesteaders leased their land for pineapple production, while some of that land today is being used to grow diversified crops like sweet potatoes, dryland taro, vegetables, macadamia nuts, bananas and papayas, according to the study.…

Unresolved Solar Applications Pile Up

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

 

More than 100 applications to install rooftop solar on Molokai remain pending at the hands of Maui Electric, according to a company representative. This delay as been reprimanded by Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Chair Randall Iwase, who issued a statement last week expressing dissatisfaction in the holdups on Molokai to approve and connect new rooftop solar.

“I am disappointed with several recent events that affect new renewable energy projects in the Hawaiian Electric Companies… which may also work against the goals of lowering electric rates for all customers and achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045,” he wrote.

In February of last year, Iwase and the president of Hawaiian Electric Companies (HECO) signed a letter of agreement stating in part that “the policy is that the HECO Companies have an affirmative duty to interconnect a potential customer pursuant to existing statutory requirements, commission orders, and the utility’s tariff where that project does not affect circuit or system level security and reliability.”

Iwase said he believes HECO and subsidiary Maui Electric may not be upholding their end of the agreement.…

Study on Electric Utility Suggests ‘Paradigm Shift’

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

A recent study on Maui County’s electric utility could play a large role in shaping the future of Molokai’s electric service. The independent study, contracted by the county to consulting company Guernsey, examined alternate forms of electric utility ownership and operation models. Released two weeks ago, it recommended that Maui County seek an Independent Systems Operator (ISO) or Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) to oversee the electric grid and energy market.

“The County desires to move to 100 percent renewable and sustainable energy as quickly as practicable, and has concerns about the prospects of this progress under the status quo,” states the study.…

Diving Accident Claims Life of Paramedic

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Diving Accident Claims Life of Paramedic

A 26-year-old paramedic from Molokai died in a freediving accident last Saturday on the island’s west end. Steven “Keku” Likua went diving with friends off Kaiaka Rock at about 3 p.m. He was last seen an hour later, approximately 300 yards off shore, wearing a camouflage wet suit with fins, snorkel and mask, according to police. When the other divers emerged, Likua did not, and after searching the area, friends reported him missing. Local emergency responders got the call around 6:20 p.m., and notified the Coast Guard to join efforts.

After an extensive search of the shoreline Saturday night yielded no results, firefighters suspended the search at 9:30 p.m., according to the Maui Fire Department.…

Celebration Through Donation

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Celebration Through Donation

For 80 years, Molokai Drugs has doled out over-the-counter remedies to thousands of island residents. This year, however, the island’s only pharmacy is tending to the health of a unique customer: Molokai High’s ailing fleet of school buses.

To celebrate their milestone anniversary, the owners of Molokai Drugs donated a new 14-passenger bus to the high school, which spent nearly $15,000 last year in bus repairs alone.

To thank the community for 80 years of aloha, Molokai Drugs donated a much-needed bus for students. Photo by Lee DeRouin

The brand-new vehicle, which will be used on Maui, is a start to replacing a collection of buses that over the years have cost the school thousands of dollars, delayed numerous trips and limited the number of students and equipment that teams can take off island.…

`Aha Moku Advisory Seeks Feedback

Friday, November 20th, 2015

DLNR News Release

The `Aha Moku Advisory Committee (AMAC) has scheduled a series of public meetings this month to seek comment from communities in `ahupua`a districts as it develops and adopts rules for its operation and administration.

Created by the Legislature in 2012 via Act 288, the `Aha Moku Advisory Committee is attached to the State Dept. of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and is mandated to bring the voices of the `ahupua`a communities forward to the Department on issues related to natural and cultural resources.

“AMAC may advise the DLNR on issues related to land and natural resources management through the ‘Aha Moku system of best management practices,” said Leimana DaMate, AMAC executive director.…

Rule Proposed to Protect Sea Cucumbers

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

After a commercial operation was discovered overharvesting sea cucumbers earlier this year, the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is seeking to regulate the catch and consumption of the marine creature throughout the state.

Previously, there were “no rules at all” protecting sea cucumbers, which serve an important purpose in the ocean, said Russell Sparks, aquatic biologist with the Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).

“The … thing that concerned us is the role these animals play on the reef,” Sparks explained. “They’re kinda like earthworms on land. They gotta turn the sediments over and clean it.”

Last week DLNR officials held a public hearing on Molokai to discuss proposed regulations with community members.…

‘Sons of Halawa’ World Premiere

Friday, November 13th, 2015

‘Sons of Halawa’ World Premiere

Quazifilms News Release

Photo courtesy of Quazifilms.

On Monday, Nov. 16 in Honolulu, “Sons of Halawa,” a locally produced 60-minute documentary, will have its World Premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF). The Molokai Premiere is scheduled for Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. under the tent at Hotel Molokai.

The story takes place in Molokai’s Halawa Valley and revolves around the life of Pilipo Solatorio. Now in his 70s, Pilipo is the last of his generation living in the isolated valley. The film follows him for two years as he searches for a successor to replace him as the carrier of Halawa’s cultural practices.…

Biochar for Molokai

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Community Contributed

By Glenn I. Teves, UH CTAHR County Extension Agent

Josiah Hunt of Pacific Biochar is the mover and shaker in the use of biochar in Hawaii and other areas of the world, and will be presenting a workshop on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. at UH Maui College-Molokai Farm located in the Molokai Agricultural Park.

Although the word “biochar” may be new, the idea of using charcoal for food production is not new. In the Amazon Basin, unearthed areas have been found to contain layers of biochar that enriched the poor soils of these high rainfall regions. High rainfall in the tropics can leach or wash away key nutrients, especially bases such as Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium, key elements for optimal plant growth, and these conditions are found in high rainfall areas of Molokai.…