2005 YEAR IN REVIEW
Get The Drift And Bag It:
This annual international coastal and marine debris cleanup is always scheduled in mid-September, and we always coordinate the Puna effort.
Hawaiian Beaches Park:
Over ten years ago we planted the now-huge Veitchi palms along the fence line, the white spider lilies, gardenias and red hibiscus. We also helped to paint the pavilion. The park needs help again. A group of residents led by Fred Blas has repainted the pavilion, and we will be working with them on the landscaping upgrade.
This roadside dumping project concentrates on large appliances (a.k.a. white goods), roofing tin, car parts and other "heavy metal" that piles up along the two roads leading to the Pahoa transfer station. We time our workday to coincide with the County's Malama ‘Aina Day in March, and partner with Matson Navigation. Last year we filled two Matson containers, including 23 refrigerators, and added Friends of Pahoa Library to our partnership.
Invasive Species, Coqui:
We sit on the Mayor's Coqui Frog Working Group that shares info and brainstorms. We lend out one of our 100-gallon sprayers to the public for free. The other one works upper Puna to keep the frogs out of the Volcanoes Park. We also provide free hydrated lime to individuals to help them control the frogs.
Invasive Species, Ka‘ohe Homesteads:
This area abuts our Puna rainforest, the Wao Kele O Puna. We have concentrated our eradication efforts on strawberry guava, melastoma, clidemia, clerodendron and ageratum. We hope for more volunteers so we can be more effective.
Invasive Species, Mangrove:
These brackish water trees are invading the Wai ‘Opae (Vacationland tide pools) and have the potential to convert the entire ecosystem to a mangrove swamp. Our Board members have been wading out and eradicating the seedlings and small trees, with the blessing of DLNR-Aquatic Resources Division, which manages the area as a Marine Life Conservation District. It's the kind of work party that, if you get overheated, you just dunk down, immerse yourself and admire the scenery. Want to help?
Invasive Species, Miconia:
Although we turned the Leilani Miconia Swat Team over to the control of the community association, we are still enabling the County-wide Operation Miconia by acting as fiscal agent for a $60k grant from National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
Keaau Reuse & Recycling Center:
This past year we launched a plan to create a demonstration garden, and amassed some of the materials needed. In 2006 we will seek creative ideas and volunteers to actually implement.
Lava Tree State Monument:
Many of our native species plantings were either stolen or vandalized. We have more plants, which we have been growing to larger size in our nursery. They will be planted in 2006.
Pahoa Street Beautification:
We have $450 in grant money to do a project on Pahoa Village Road. The funds will pay for plants, soil and planters. Volunteers will be welcome.
Pahoa Neighborhood Facility:
We planted palms to replace the diseased Fern Trees that had to be cut down; one palm will have to be moved. Once the County cuts down the large trees along the street side of the building and does the renovation work, we will help plant lower-growing trees with less invasive root systems and some vireyas for color.
Pahoa Police SubStation:
Since we built the rock wall and planted it many years ago, we have replanted several times. Weeding has been the problem - we can't do it as often as it's needed. Here is another area that needs volunteers - an hour or two once a month.
Friends of Pahoa Library are working hard to build a new public library in Pahoa, so that the existing facility can service just the school. The County is making land available, an architect has drawn the plans for a very environmentally friendly building, and we will be working with Ron Terry on the Environmental Assessment and doing the landscaping: another project for volunteers!.
Advocacy & Testimony:
Bill 78 & 79,ÊPublic Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission:
We testified in support of these bills that would enable the County to acquire lands for preservation and public use, proactively planning for future needs. We have also suggested some parcels to be considered, one of which is a strip of land paralleling the mango portion of Pohoiki Rd. on the south. This strip could become a wide, straight road for the fishing boats and the existing road could then be a parklike trail for hikers, horses and bicycles.
Bus service improvements:
A user-friendly bus service helps people get around and reduces air pollution. We have worked with Tom Brown of the County Transit Agency to identify public transit needs in Puna and support his attempts to implement solutions. The new buses are now free, have bike/surfboard racks and are ADA compliant. There are more trips per day to and from Hilo, including nights and Saturdays. Plans are afoot to bring the busses into the subdivisions by March 2006, install bus stops, include the airport in the route, and post schedules.
Legacy Lands Act:
We testified in favor of HB1308, which the Governor has since signed into law. It gives permanent funding to the Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) so they won't have to waste time and resources with annual begging.
Mayor's Arborist Advisory Committee:
We have kept the issue of signage for our Exceptional Trees alive, and finally our efforts have born fruit (pun intended). The Dept. of Public Works will be making four large signs for both ends of Pohoiki Road and Government Beach Road informing the public that the mangos are protected. The Forest Team class at HCC will do GPS mapping of the Pohoiki mangos to protect them from vandalism. And a logo has been chosen for the signs that will identify individual trees that are protected under the ordinance (think of the King Kamehameha sign for special land-marks).
Roadside Dumping & Transfer Station Signage:
We have made lots of suggestions to the County to improve the solid waste system, make it easier for the public and reduce dumping. Some of the suggestions will soon be implemented:a sign to identify the Pahoa facility, space for white goods and green waste. Mahalo to Harry Kim, Gary Safarik, Bruce McClure and Barbara Bell. The bad news is they plan to put in a gate, which we think is counter-productive: after all, we don't want to keep people from using the station - we want to encourage it. The present name of "transfer station" imparts no information to new residents, as there is no such thing anywhere else. We have suggested a name change to denote what the facility is to be used for: Pahoa Rubbish Drop-Off Station. Also, we have finally convinced Public Works that the level of dumping is beyond the ability of the community to clean up - they have the manpower and the equipment. They will now do periodic cleanups!
We supported a proposal to subdivide out 1,200-1,500 acres of coastal strand in Ka‘u and place it under the jurisdiction of DLNR - Forestry & Wildlife Division, to be managed as a "forest reserve" for conservation of its rich native coastal plant collection, anchialine ponds, archaeological sites and Monk Seal/Hawksbill Turtle habitat.It passed unanimously due to strong public support!
Wao Kele O Puna:
At long last our Puna rainforest (and our main aquifer) will be protected in perpetuity. Twenty years of activism by environmentalists and Native Hawaiians yielded a $3.4 million appropriation in the Dept. of Interior's budget to buy the forest from the Estate of James Campbell. At the last minute the Estate raised the price to $3.7 million, so OHA put up the difference. The forest will be turned over to OHA and a long range management plan will be devised by a coalition including OHA, DLNR, Pele Defense Fund, MOP and abutting communities. Part of the plan: permanent plugging of the geothermal well!
Uluwehi Native Tree Arboretum:
This project spans our categories of "Education" and "Hands-On". Nine acres in Nanawale Estates was donated to us in 2000 by Nancy Duff. This year we had an HCC student do a GIS map for us as part of her Forest Team course requirements. The Arboretum will house a native plant collection and a structure that will combine office, environmental library, resource center, meeting place and propagation facility. With this map we are better positioned to apply for development grants and permits. We have been blessed with a retired pro bono landscape architect, Jimmy Kambourian, who has designed nature preserves in Georgia, a feng shui builder, L. E. Zerba of Brewster & Co. to design the structure (a low profile, very "green" octagon with solar panels, lots of windows and skylights, ADA accessible), offers of labor and some donations from our members. Lynne de la Cruz of First Hawaiian has offered to help with funding once we are ready. At the present we have just under $3,000 in our Building Fund and $2,000 more on the way, a drop in the bucket. But last year we didn't even have a "bucket", so we are making progress.
As usual, your participation is encouraged. This will be a marvelous addition to our community, and we hope that you will want to be a major part of it..
Jr. Life Saving Program:
The County runs a children's lifeguard program for just two weeks in the summer. We felt there was a demand for more, so with grants from the Kukio Fund and the Healing Our Island Fund we ran a successful program in October that graduated 15 students, and are planning a Winter Session in January and a Spring Session in April. Each session runs for three weekends and is taught by Certified Water Safety Officers. Besides basic life saving techniques, students are taught civic responsibility, coastal ecology and the benefits of a clean, drug-free lifestyle.
Caring for our Land:
Every month this regular column appears in the free Puna News, keeping everyone up to date on environmental issues and projects and imparting new information. Some of the topics covered in 2005: How to have a "Green" Xmas, What to do with your green waste, Palm planting at the Pahoa community center, Preservation issues at the County level, Roadside dumping, Coqui reproduction rates, County cleanup of Apa‘a St., Wao Kele O Puna and Waiohinu coastline to be protected, to name a few.
We are often invited to speak to groups on selected topics. This is a free service, although we do not refuse donations or honoraria to cover the speaker's mileage. This year's big topic has been on coqui. We also assist individuals and groups to present public informational programs at Pahoa Library. Upcoming will be "Saving the Planet One Bite at a Time" on January 23, and "The Mangroves of Kapoho" on February 6th.
Unusual expenses this year included the costs of switching the utilities each time we moved, and the high gas prices. Although our budget for the year had allowed for increases in expenses, there was no way we could fore-see how large those increases would be. Nevertheless, on other line items we were below budget, so an overall balance was maintained. Another factor was that the loss of a street-front facility resulted in a decrease in tee shirt sales and new memberships and donations from walk-ins. Several grants helped to cover most of our project expenses, including mileage, supplies and postage. The bottom line is that we are solvent (we haven't always been). In the interests of space we are not reproducing the fiscal details, but our books are open whenever you wish to see them - just ask.