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.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Ka`u News Briefs Feb. 5, 2013

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park plans to eradicate mouflon sheep and other ungulates from the Kakuku Unit.
Photo from National Park Service
THE FINAL PLAN FOR RESTORING NATIVE ECOSYSTEMS BY MANAGING UNGULATES inside Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and the final Environmental Impact Statement are available to read at Na`alehu, Pahala and Mountain View Libraries.
      The final plan/EIS is also available on the National Park Service Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo_ecosystem_feis. A limited number of compact discs and hard copies of the final plan/EIS are also available by request at the park visitor center, One Crater Rim Drive, Hawai`i National Park, HI 96718; or by phoning 985-6026.
       The plan says that the park “protects, restores and studies unique and diverse ecosystems and endemic species that are the result of over 30 million years of evolution on an active volcanic landscape, wide climate variation, and the extreme isolation of the Hawaiian Islands.”
The plan is available online and at public libraries.
     It “encompasses the largest and most ecologically diverse wilderness in the Pacific Islands” and “embraces the Native Hawaiian spiritual significance of this landscape and interprets related cultural traditions.”
      The plan reviews the history of attempts to control pigs, goats, sheep and other ungulates starting in 1927, when the Territorial Government conducted goat removal as part of a regional effort to protect Hawai`i’s watershed. Between 1927 and 1931, the plan states, 17,389 goats were taken from the park. Efforts ceased after 1931. The National Park Service took over control efforts and relied on private hunters to remove non-native ungulates in the park on a permit basis between 1932 and 1934. These efforts proved ineffective and were discontinued, the plan states.
      After 1934, control of non-native goats or other non-native species stopped until 1938, when the Civilian Conservation Corps conducted organized drives to remove the animals, supplemented with fencing. Although successful in removing large numbers of non-native ungulates from the park, Civilian Conservation Corps efforts were suspended in 1941 due to World War II, and fences deteriorated.
      In 1944, NPS hired private companies for goat control to round up goats and sell them at a profit. This continued until 1955, when it was discontinued due to lack of effectiveness. From 1955 into 1970, NPS relied exclusively on park staff to eliminate non-native ungulates. More than 30,000 goats were removed through a variety of techniques such as organized hunts and drives. However, a lack of steady funding and inadequate fencing did not allow for a level of sustained management that would reduce the population, the park plan states. In 1970, it was estimated that over 14,000 goats resided in the park.
      Along with feral goat eradication, attempts to control feral pigs were carried out in the park. Approximately 7,000 pigs were eliminated from the older part of the park from 1930 to 1971. The program did not eliminate pigs, largely due to the inability of NPS employees to carry out sustained reduction efforts and prevent re-entry of pigs into ungulate-control areas, the plan states.
Fenced area of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park shows recovery,
surrounded by unfenced areas with ungulate damage. Photo from NPS
      Also challenging were domestic cattle from adjoining ranches that would wander and graze within the park. The most impacted areas included Mauna Loa and portions of Kilauea. Although authorized grazing was discontinued in 1948, a small number of stray cattle (both domestic and feral) remained until the early 1970s. A small population of feral sheep was eliminated when NPS assumed ownership of `Ainahou Ranch in the early 1970s.
       In the 1970s, NPS changed management strategies to include a systematic approach of direct reduction and fencing, including the use of volunteers in management efforts. The strategy included the use of boundary and internal fences to isolate populations, removal of individuals at greater rates than they could be replenished by reproduction and ingress, boundary fence inspection and maintenance, and monitoring and removal to prevent population increases.
      Since the approach was adopted, NPS staff members have eliminated nearly all goats below 9,000-foot elevation (excluding the Kahuku Unit) and pigs from approximately 40,000 acres of interior fenced units or pig control units. Ingress of feral ungulates (goats, mouflon sheep, pigs and cattle) into managed units has occurred at very low, manageable rates since the 1970s. In Kahuku, large numbers of mouflon sheep are present along with feral pigs and a few feral goats and cattle. Several hundred feral sheep occur in the remote north corner of Kahuku. Between 2004 and 2006, approximately 1,900 mouflon sheep were removed from Kahuku along with construction of fence segments along the park boundary; however, populations remain high in many areas due to an annual population increase estimated between 21.1 and 33.1 percent, states the plan.

BANNER HEALTH SYSTEMS CORP. executives are scheduled to meet doctors and employees at Hilo Medical Center next Tuesday and Wednesday, reports Colin M. Stewart in today’s Hawai`i Tribune-Herald. The nonprofit hopes to acquire Ka`u Hospital and eleven other public hospitals throughout the state. HMC chief executive officer Howard Ainsley told Stewart that chief medical officer and executive vice president Dr. John Hensing and executive vice president and chief administrative officer Ronald R. Bunnell plan to share Banner’s health care philosophy and answer questions from area clinicians. They will discuss plans for dealing with health care reform issues and share their ideas on how to increase efficiency and produce better outcomes for patients, Ainsley said. 
      “This will let doctors have a better feel for how they run their business,” Ainsley said. “How they’re being successful, what their plans are for health care reforms and how we can best resolve issues.”
      Hawai`i Health Systems Corp. officials said that talks with Banner, which began in July, are still in the very early stages, “and much remains to be explored before any kind of deal can be struck,” Stewart reports.
      According to the Hawai`i Tribune-Herald story, HHSC Board chairman Avery Chumbley said Banner would lease properties from HHSC in a public-private partnership. Ainsley told Stewart such a partnership could help HHSC in dealing with many of the issues that have served to drive up costs. He said HHSC has little control over labor costs since it is a civil service employer. “Civil service means additional costs attributed to public hospitals,” he said. “It means labor costs are negotiated by someone other than myself. I’m not the one at the table when it comes to the table. HHSC only has one vote at the table on these labor cost issues. When you start looking at our costs (as a whole), all these factors come into play.”
      See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.

KA`U SCENIC BYWAY plans will be discussed tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Na`alehu Methodist Church Social Hall. Plans call for interpretive signage at visitor stops and education online. The Scenic Byway program is sponsored by Ka`u Chamber of Commerce and spearheaded by Dr. Dennis and Marge Elwell, authors of several books about the history of Ka`u. See http://www.hawaiiscenicbyways.org/index.php/byway/kau-scenic-byway-the-slopes-of-mauna-loa.

Tamar Elias samples gases at Kilauea summit. Photo from USGS/HVO
USGS HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY geochemists Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias explain how vog forms and what has been learned about its effects on our island environment tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at Pahala Community Center. Depending on interest from local communities, HVO hopes to bring more programs to the area. 

VOLCANO SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES holds a public meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Cooper Center in Volcano Village. Architects will present renderings of Keakealani, and community fundraising efforts will be discussed.

FUNDRAISING FOR KA`U HOSPITAL’S emergency room continues when Red Hat Ladies of Ka`u and Ka Lae Quilters hold a bake and craft sale Friday and Saturday at 8 a.m. at Punalu`u. Contributions are welcome. Call Barbara Beatty at 929-9072.

TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE For Boys & Girls Clubs’ Youth of the Year banquet Friday at 5:30 p.m. at `Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. The event features inspirational speakers, awards, food and auction items. Individual tickets are $70 each. To purchase tickets in Ka`u, call Boys & Girls Club board member Julia Neal at 928-9811.

IN SPORTS THIS WEEK, Ka`u High’s junior varsity softball team travels to Kamehameha today for a game at 2 p.m., and boys basketball team meets Kamehameha tomorrow at 6 p.m. at home.