About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs June, 21, 2012

 Pahala and its farmers woke up this morning to rain washed skies and fires surrounding the village almost
entirely contained.  Photo by Julia Neal
CLEAN AIR GREETED PAHALA residents this morning as rains put a lid on fires fought more than two days across 5,200 acres of wildlands, coffee, eucalyptus and macadamia farms. While rain calmed flames, smoke and ash cleared, and villagers threw open windows to breath fresh air, firefighters and medics took a break last night. Still in their work clothes, some sought solace at a Hawaiian falsetto concert with Kai Ho`opi`i and hula at Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park.
A burned out Pa`a`au Gulch below Ka`u Hospital is
 testimony to the danger of gulches full of dry brush
surrounding Pahala, its coffee farms, macadamia
 orchards, eucalyptus plantings and ranches.
Photo by Julia Neal
     Among the most relieved around Pahala, was Ka`u Coffee grower Berta Miranda who Monday afternoon clutched her Bible, standing by helpless farmers fearing the worst after fleeing wind driven flames. Miranda and her Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative colleagues escaped when fires burned some of their windbreak trees and grass at Pear Tree, but spared most of the coffee.
     Edmund C. Olson, founder of Ka`u Coffee Mill and a major sponsor of the annual Ka`u Coffee Festival, promised to help coffee farmers with funding to prune, replant and rebuild damaged coffee farms. Co-op President Gloria Camba said she will ask the state Department of Agriculture to help assess and plan for recovering damaged farms. She said the co-op’s crop insurance may help some growers.
     Ka`u Hospital brought back long-term residents late yesterday from Na`alehu Community Center where they stayed for two nights, along with their hospital beds. The Ka`u Rural Health Clinic and hospital laboratories reopened this morning. The hospital’s Long’s Pharmacy reopened yesterday, and the Emergency Room reopened Tuesday night.
     Guy Enriques’ youth camp for the Southside Volleyball team going to competition on the mainland resumed practice in the old Pahala Gym after the smoke cleared. The free school lunches for children resumed today after being shut down during the fire emergency.
 Hwy 11 is open but the remnants of the
fires smolder both mauka and makai.
Photo by Julia Neal
     Brush and burned trees still smoldered this morning on mauka and makai sides of Hwy 11 near homes of Lisa and Jimmy Dacalio and Ann Fontes. The blackened Pa`au`au Gulch and singed macadamia trees, just makai of houses and Ka`u Hospital, stood as stark reminders that dry brush around villages and farms pose a real hazard to life and livelihood. 
     Hawai`i Civil Defense and Hawai`i Fire Department yesterday afternoon closed command center operations set up to coordinate the battle against the fires that broke out Monday in a eucalyptus farm along the cane haul road above Pahala and in the macadamia orchards below the town. Operations to kill the fires included water drops from two helicopters, crews from county and volunteer fire departments islandwide, and private and public operations with heavy machinery to build firebreaks around farms, pastures and such installations as diesel tanks used for macadamia machinery. The command center also coordinated road closures along Hwy 11 when the fire jumped the main thoroughfare around the island and at Wood Valley Road when smoke severely diminished air quality.      
     The Fire Department proclaimed the mauka fire as 95 percent contained yesterday afternoon and the makai fires were still burning in hot spots on both sides of the highway this morning.      
 Pahala Volunteer Fire Captain Ron Ebert hopes to upgrade
the volunteer fire truck on loan from the U.S. Forest Service.
 Photo by Julia Neal
     Pahala Volunteer Fire Captain Ron Ebert responded to a front page photo of the unit’s fire truck in Hawai`i Tribune Herald by saying it is “a surplus U.S. Forest Service truck on loan...If we had more and better equipment, less property damage would have occurred.” Ebert also sent out a call for more and younger people to become volunteer fire fighters in Pahala and the other units around the island. He noted that Discovery Harbour, Na`alehu, Pahala, Ocean View and Volcano volunteer firefighters helped with this week’s battle.

THE AXIS DEER LAW is likely to go into effect today. Sen. Gil Kahele said he expects Gov. Neil Abercrombie to sign the bill this morning, making it illegal to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly transfer, transport, and release after transport through interisland movement, any live, wild or feral, deer unless permitted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources or other state agency. The act will also establish penalties and fines for violators. Kahele introduced SB3001 - Relating to Wildlife - during the 2012 legislative session to address the problem of the invasive axis deer on Hawai`i Island. Kahele, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, has been a strong proponent of the swift removal of invasive axis deer. The introduction of axis deer to the Hawaiian Islands, in 1868, has been devastating to Moloka`i and Maui.
DLNR recorded the first official kill of an axis deer in
Ka`u in April.
Photo from Big Island Invasive Species Committee
     Kahele said, "I am extremely pleased that the Governor has decided to sign this important piece of legislation into law. Axis deer have been devastating to our precious environment and our agricultural industry. This law will send a clear message to those that attempt to transport the axis deer to Hawai`i island that this Administration, the Legislature and the residents of our state will not tolerate this conduct. Just this past April the Department of Land and Natural Resources recorded the first official kill of an axis deer in Ka`u. I applaud this effort and will continue my mission to completely eradicate the axis deer from Hawai`i Island. This law reaffirms that message."

NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY STROLLS, led by wildlife biologist/photographer Jack Jeffrey, takes place tomorrow at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. from Volcano Art Center Gallery within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The hour-long easy strolls take visitors along the rim of Kilauea caldera as Jeffrey communicates the ecology and geology of the region and offers tips on how to capture it on camera. Sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis. The strolls are free and donations are appreciated. Park entrance fees apply. Call 967-8222 or visit volcanoartcenter.org for more.

PUBLIC COMMENTS are due tomorrow for Ka`u Forest Reserve Draft Environmental Assessment. The plan calls for fencing a portion of the 61,000 acres of state forest between Na`alehu and Pahala. The fencing would be mauka of 4,000 feet. 
An ariel view of the Ka`u Forest Reserve. Photo by Rob Shallenberger
     The plan is to restore and maintain key watersheds within the area and to protect native species from the negative effects of invasive animals, particularly ungulates. Once invasive threats are under control, the DLNR hopes to release the `alala, native Hawaiian crow, from captive breeding after being extinct in the wild since 2002. The plan includes public access for hunters, gatherers and hikers and stresses the importance of many native forest species for Hawaiian cultural use. The plan would be implemented over a 15-year time frame. 
     Copies of the plan’s Draft EA can be read at Pahala and Na`alehu Public Libraries and online at http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw
     Send original comments to Ron Terry at Geometrician Associates, PO Box 396, Hilo, HI 96721. Copies should be sent to Tanya Rubenstein at Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife,1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 131, Honolulu, HI 96813.
     For information regarding the plan, contact Mililani Browning of DOFAW at 933-3171 or mililani.browning@gmail.com. For information regarding the Environmental Assessment, contact Ron at (808) 969-7090 or rterry@hawaii.rr.com

Fountain grass, an invasive species in Hawai`i,
increases fire potential. Photo from hawaii.hawaii.edu
IN AN EFFORT TO PREVENT DEVASTATING FIRES IN OCEAN VIEW, volunteers are invited to work with Ocean View Community Association and Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park staff to remove invasive fountain grass from roadsides in Ocean View Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum, is a highly flammable bunch grass native to North Africa. “This fire-promoting plant spreads quickly, and is one of the few invasive species that can colonize young lava flows that would otherwise serve as natural firebreaks, said HVNP ecologist David Benitez. “It aggressively chokes out native plants and increases fire potential in natural areas.” Volunteers meet at Ocean View Community Center at 9 a.m. Bring lunch, water, a hat and sunscreen. For more information, contact Benitez at 985-6085 or david_benitez@nps.gov.

Art by Patti Pease Johnson.
A BACK TO BASICS YOGA WORKSHOP is offered at Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus in Volcano on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Athena Engelman and Rachelle Castillo teach the fundamentals of basic yoga, including breath control, body awareness and anatomy, proper alignment and injury prevention. The class is $65 for the general public and $59.50 for VAC members. For more, call 967-8222.

FROM THE EARTH, a daily art exhibit at Volcano Art Center Gallery within Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park begins Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit displays an exaggeration of natural forms in ceramics, silk, cement, pastel and natural plant materials by Karen Hagen, Patti Pease Johnson and Margaret Lynch. An opening reception will be held that evening, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and an Artist’s Lecture will be held Friday, June 29, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gallery entrance is free and park entrance fees apply. For more, visit volcanoartcenter.org or call 967-7565.