|New Year's Day at Punalu`u with a Hawaiian green sea turtle appearing to watch over swimmers, beachgoers and an|
outrigger canoe taking the ashes of Punalu`u son, Uncle Chris Bangay, out to sea. Photo by Julia Neal
TOURISM racked up some $12 billion for the Hawai`i economy in 2011, even though businesses and families overall experienced a lot of economic stress. Growth in tourism is expected to continue, particularly from Asia, as Chinese and Korean trends are following the Japanese tradition of coming to Hawai`i. Japanese honeymoon traffic was up 23 percent last year. Also up was Japanese staying in vacation rentals, indicating more independent travel for longer stays. The overall number of people staying in bed and breakfasts increased last year, keeping more of the visitor money in the local economy.
AN ADDITIONAL $235,300 IN DESIGN FUNDS were relesed for the Ka`u FEMA-certified Civil Defense Shelter, to be built next to the Ka`u High campus. This is in addition to the $16.9 million previously released after the state Legislature approved $17.9 for the project. The governor announced the release of the money at the end of the year as portion of a total of more than $63.7 million for projects statewide.
Mitsunaga & Associates was given the contract for the architecture and engineering for the project which is overseen by the county.
FEDERAL STIMULUS MONEY projects for the Big Island were reported this morning by Peter Sur in Hawai`i Tribune Herald in a story on whether the $2.2 billion in government stimulus money helped the state of Hawai`i. He writes that the Legislative Federal Economic Stimulus Program Oversight Commission has filed a draft report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Projects affecting Ka`u include more than nearly $8 million in work in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, including the $6.6 million Emergency Operations Center, which is already completed. The federal money also funded $3.3 million in upgrades for U.S. Geological Survey equipment at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory; and $1 million in mass transit funding.
|The Visitor Emergency Operations Center at Hawai`i Volcanoes National|
Park was built with federal stimulus money. Photo by Stephen Geiger
According to the Tribune-Herald story, the committee, commenting on the stimulus spending statewide, did not come up with a strong opinion on the spending. “Whether and to what extent the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 accomplished its purpose will not be clear for quite some time and is a question best left to others better qualified and equipped to make that judgment," their report to the 2012 state Legislature said.
For further information, contact Sheri Mann, at DLNR-Division of Forestry and Wildlife, 808- 587-4172, or email Sheri.S.Mann@hawaii.gov. Visit hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw.
The Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program Council reviews proposals to DLNR for funding to encourage citizen involvement in creating and supporting long-term urban and community forestry projects and programs throughout Hawai`i.
Issues of concern include mapping the urban tree canopy and maintaining a tree inventory; advancing the knowledge of tropical urban forestry, management plans, and best management practices; training for urban forestry industry professionals; and creating public awareness of the value and benefits of trees.
The council meets four times per year and appointments are for three years. For more information contact Teresa Trueman-Madriaga at 808-672-3383 or by email at email@example.com.
Ka`u and Volcano have the largest pristine native forests in all of Hawai`i.
|Uncle Chris Bangay was honored on New Year's|
Day at the Henry Opukaha`ia Chapel at Punalu`u.
Photo by Julia Neal
TOMORROW IS THE 29TH ANNIVERSARY of Kilauea’s ongoing east rift zone eruption. Geologist Tim Orr reviews highlights and talks about recent developments on Kilauea’s east rift zone at Tuesday’s After Dark in the Park program at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. $2 donation supports park programs, and park entrance fees apply.
CAPTAIN CHARLES MOORE discusses his book Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans on Friday, Jan. 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano Village. Moore identified and studied the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where plastic debris from around the North Pacific Rim is swirled together by ocean currents. His book will be available.