2004 Report

Year of the Invaders

MICONIA: We eradicated 8, 776 plants in Leilani Estates. After seven years of doing this project, without the Leilani residents stepping up to the bat in any numbers, we have had to inform their Board that the ball is now in their court. We are willing to train volunteers, but Leilani has to provide them. We are burned out.

We have enabled the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC) to carry on Miconia eradication, islandwide, by acting as the fiscal agent for a $100,000 grant from U. S. Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

COQUI: A $10,000 grant from the USDA allowed us to purchase two heavy-duty sprayer/drencher units. One of them is housed at Nanawale, but anyone can borrow it IF they provide the chemical (citric acid or hydrate of lime), return it clean with a full tank of gas, and fill out a report form. We are also providing a trailer for the use of those who don’t have pickup trucks. To reserve a unit or for more info, call Liz at 965-8080. A big mahalo to Nanawale for their cooperation.

We gave presentations to the Black Sands Board and to a Hilo group about coquí and eradication methods. We sit on the Mayor’s Coquí Working Group, which shares updated information and discusses new, experimental techniques.

ALBIZIA: We have gotten information out to the public about albizia trees and the dangers they pose. We have also been eradicating those on our Arboretum parcel in Nanawale.

MANGROVE: This non-native coastal tree thrives in brackish and salt water, and its seeds have been gaining a tenacious foothold in the southern end of the Wai ‘Opae Marine Life Conservation District (the Vacationland tide pools area). A mangrove infestation such as this has the capability of changing the ecosystem from coral gardens tide pools to a mangrove swamp. The present marine life which thrives there now would eventually be replaced with different species, and our Puna fishery, whose fingerlings begin their life cycle there, would be impacted in years to come. The plants range from pull-able seedlings to 15 foot tall trees, and our volunteers have eradicated about 10,000 of them this year. We urge coastal property owners who have mangrove trees to contact us so that we can eradicate the seed sources and replace them with native or noninvasive vegetation.

OTHER INVASIVES: Our Ka ‘ohe Homesteads partners eradicated 9,033 strawberry guava, 135 clidemia, 275 ageratum, 682 melastoma, 275 guava, 1 cecropia, 16 medinilla and 8 clerodendron between August and November.

Environmental Education

CARING FOR OUR LAND: We now have a regular column in the free monthly Puna News, which allows us to educate, inform and outreach on environmental subjects. Look for us there.

NEW ON THE NET: www.malamaopuna.org is our website, created by Sherry Kelso Palmer, and it gets updated on a regular basis. Check it out. And if you want to contact us, our email address is malamaopuna@yahoo.com.

EDUCATING LOWE’S: The first time we saw the ad for Strawberry Guava trees in the Lowe’s newspaper insert, we wrote a letter to the editor in hopes that the message would reach them: that Strawberry Guava is a rampantly invasive tree and is Public Enemy #1 on the State’s Noxious Weed List. When the ad came out a second time, we knew we had failed. So we emailed Customer Service and informed them that they were selling an illegal plant and should take it out of stock immediately. We also told them about the Weed List and how to get a copy so that their nursery department does not repeat this mistake with other invasive plants. We actually got a response! Customer Service said they would pass the information along to their department supervisor. We hope that this person will take it to heart. If you go to Kona and stop in to Lowe’s, please check their nursery to make sure they are complying. Mahalo.

MALAMA I KE KAI: Hats off to member Graham Ellis of Hiccup Circus, who produced this new, improved Puna extravaganza, featuring local talent of all ages, exciting scenery and costumes, and a powerful message about appreciating, protecting, and conserving our coastal and marine resources. We thank Graham for inviting us to have an informational booth for the two-night event, and we handed out lots of free brochures to the audience.

AMERICAN RHODODENDRON SOCIETY: The local chapter hosted the national convention this year, and MOP members had an opportunity to do some education about Hawaiian ecology and culture. President René Siracusa was a guide for the Volcano Park tour and shared information about native plants, eco-logical threats, geology, Hawaiiana, speciation, etc. She also designed the convention’s logo: a vireya rhododendron as a quilt motif. Arboretum Director Rex Palmer did a Power Point presentation about the evolution of native biota, and showed photos of many of our strikingly beautiful native plants. Our Treasurer, Rhio Markley conducted a palm frond weaving workshop, and John Kekahuna showed the malahini how to make haku leis. Convention attendees raved about the program and said it was the best convention ever. High praise. The Hawai’i Chapter thanked us with a $200 donation to our Arboretum fund.

ULUWEHI NATIVE TREE ARBORETUM: This project has been slow moving, but the pace began picking up this year. We divided up the responsibilities, so that Rex Palmer is now Director and Mark Franklin is in charge of maintenance. Rex has been writing grant proposals to get us funding for a professional-caliber landscaping plan, which is needed to generate more grant monies. Mark has been working on albizia eradication. We picked up some volunteers through an article René wrote for the Nanawale newsletter, and an HCC intern is mapping the property for her GPS class. The bad news is that our Sear’s metal tool shed was stolen. (Hey, folks – it can’t ALL be good news…)

Hands-On Projects

LAVA TREE STATE PARK: We planted lots of native trees and hibiscus (white, orange, red and yellow) to beautify the park. Four kou were stolen. About $1,000 worth of Kolea and Kokio hibiscus were “inadvertantly” herbicided to death by maintenance staff (an oxymoron). A contrite State Parks Division of DLNR arranged funding to replace the lost plants (this took a while, as the wheels of government move slowly). We are now growing out the plants in our nursery, and will put them in the ground at the end of their bloom cycle.

HEAVY METAL 2004: Every year in March, for Malama Aina Day, we (and Ka ‘ohe Homesteads Neighborhood Watch) do a large-scale pickup of large appliances, car parts, roofing tin, etc. from the two roads leading to the Pahoa Transfer Station. We also pick up other rubbish along the way. Matson Navigation has partnered with us annually, providing a container at no cost as part of their Ka Ipu Aina program. This year we packed 3 tons of heavy metal into their container, and HT&T Trucking hauled it to the scrap metal yard (also on Matson’s dime). Matson also gave us a $1,000 donation. Mahalo to Matson for enabling us to do this project. And a big thumbs down to those who have no respect for the aina, and prove it by dumping.

DEMOLISHING DERELICT DRUG HOUSES: Remember the urban blight across the street from Pahoa Cash & Carry? Those abandoned slums were harboring “ice” and heroin activities, and also rats. It took several groups and lots of concerned citizens to get them torn down. Our role? (1) petitioning the County repeatedly to approve the demolition, (2) providing community service workers to do the grunt work, and (3) arranging for the Matson container (which hauled off the rubbish) through our contacts with Puna Malama Pono.

BOTTLE PALM EXODUS: The police department asked us to remove the palms in front of the Pahoa substation, because “they were blocking visibility”. We arranged with Pahoa Elementary to adopt them. Then Community Policing Officer Greg Yamada, with some help from René, dug them up. When they arrived at the school, the holes were already dug and waiting to welcome the palms to their new home.

EASY COME EASY GO PALMS: We planted clumping fishtail palms in the medians at the Pahoa Community Center parking lot. They finally took hold and starting taking off. They looked so good that someone stole four of them in November. We will be replacing them soon.

GET THE DRIFT AND BAG IT: This is an annual international event in which we always take part. This year we collected 15 large trash bags, a plastic pallet, lots of styrofoam floats and black plastic tubes from the Japanese lobster fishery, and tires.

LINE UP OF PROJECTS FOR 2005: In addition to our regular annual projects, such as Heavy Metal and Get The Drift…, we will continue working to beautify Lava Tree Park and to develop our Arboretum. We have also been invited by Recycle Hawaii to develop a Recycling Garden at the Kea‘au Reuse and Recycling Center. This demonstration project will show how discarded materials can be reused to create garden hardscape, such as ponds, trellis, raised beds, etc. Anyone with ideas or who wishes to work on this should contact our office to volunteer.

THE PUNA COMMUNITY ACCESS ROAD. (PEAR) is a project that we put on hold a few years ago. We had planted the connector lot between Ainaloa Blvd. and Hawaiian Acres. There were two reasons for project stoppage: (1) the question of legal ownership of the parcel and County negotiations with Ainaloa, and (2) 45 of the 87 large palms we had planted were stolen and we could not afford to replace them. We would like to pick up where we left off, starting with weed control. Volunteers?

Advocacy and Watch-dogging

During 2004 we testified, wrote comment letters, made phone calls or otherwise advocated IN FAVOR OF the following:

  • State Parks needs: Lava Tree, McKenzie, Cape Kumukahi Ð primarily proper restroom facilities with hand washing capability.
  • Creating signage to protect our Exceptional Trees and to inform the public.
  • Prosecuting SMA violations (such as coastal forest destruction) along the Puna coast.
  • Developing a sort station to handle our recyclables.
  • Developing an accurate Puna Regional Circulation Plan to address our transportation needs without becoming a 14-lane nightmare.
  • Amending the Exceptional Tree Ordinance to remove loopholes and increase penalties.
  • Allowing a land trust to help save the Puna rainforest, the Wao Kele O Puna, from commercial development. This forest of over 27,000 acres is both the lungs of our island and its major watershed.
  • Improvements to the Poho‘iki boat ramp to address safety concerns.
  • Increased monitoring and better signage to protect the honu in the Champagne Ponds.
  • A County amnesty program which would allow removal of abandoned vehicles from private property.

We advocated AGAINST the following:

  • The Stryker Brigade
  • Gill Nets
  • Illegal Dumping
  • GMOs
  • More development on Mauna Kea


SHABU-SHABU : The new owners of Lava Zone offered to do a fundraiser for us in their new restaurant, and it brought in close to $700 for us. (The restaurant has since closed and Ludi’s Filipino Foods moved in).

PAHOA SPRINGTIME JAMM: This 2nd annual block party was designed to help the Puna economy, by enticing people who usually avoid Pahoa to come to town, have fun, and break the ice. Local craftspeople, food vendors, Pahoa merchants and non profits all had a chance to earn some money. We were in on the organizing, and acted as fiscal agent for the event. There is County funding for the 3rd annual Jamm, which will be on April 9, 2005. Don’t miss it!

GET HIGH ON LIFE: We had some County funding which helped to put on this anti-ice community resource fair, and we partnered with Pahoa Weed and Seed, Pahoa MerchantÕs Assn., Brian Jordan and Creative Arts. It was the 2nd annual such event, and we will try to make it better every year.

Under Our Umbrella

There are groups that are too small or too young to have their own non-profit status, but do good work for our community, so we help them by acting as a fiscal umbrella: This year we helped the Puna Jr. Lifesaving Program, Pahoa Weed and Seed, the Kokua Pahoa Neighborhood Watch, Ka‘ohe Homesteads Neighborhood Watch, Get High On Life, the Pahoa Springtime Jamm, the Coqu’ Working Group and Big Island Invasive Species Committee.