|Jodie Rosam, a new member of PONC, examining a wiliwili tree. Photo by Nohea Ka'awa|
JODIE ROSAM IS A NEW COMMISSIONER FOR PONC. As a member of of Public Access, Open Space & Natural Resources Preservation Commission, the Kaʻū resident represents the County Council district that includes Volcano through Kaʻū into Kona. The eight-member PONC is tasked with studying, reviewing and recommending special properties to be conserved through purchase, using county property tax money. Funding also goes to stewarding the properties.
Rosam said, “I am truly humbled to serve on the PONC Commission. I see this as an opportunity to make real-time contributions to protecting the land, water, ecosystem, and
Rosam earned a Master’s of Science in Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science from University of Hawai'i-Hilo and has a background in ecosystem restoration and natural and cultural resource conservation. In addition to PONC, she serves as board member of The Volcano School of Arts & Sciences, Ka ʻOhana O Honuʻapo, Three Mountain Alliance Foundation, and The Book Shack. She is the Plant Program Coordinator for Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund and the owner of Pūlama Mau Environmental Consulting. She is the author of the monthly Kaʻū Calendar newspaper column Lā‘au Letters: Native Plants of Kaʻū.
She said she thrives on sparking a love for nature in her children, making new friends in the plant kingdom, and sharing her passion with others. Her work in stewardship of the land spans more than 20 years on Hawai'i Island.
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THE DATE HAS CHANGED FOR KAʻŪ COFFEE TRAIL RUNS. Originally scheduled for July 3, the event day is rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17, starting and ending at Ka'u Coffee Mill.
Registration is open for the annual event to be held on Saturday, Sept. 17. Organized by Hawai'i Island Racers, the 50K begins at 6 a.m., Half Marathon at 7 a.m. and 5K at 7:15 a.m., all starting from Kaʻū Coffee Mill at 96-2696 Wood Valley Road in Pahala. The 50K cutoff time is nine hours. RFID Chip Timing will come up with the results after the races take off with a gun start.
|Ka'u Coffee Trail Runs have been moved to Saturday, Sept. 17.|
Photo by Julia Neal
Registration deadline for the lowest fees is May 1, with 50K at $100, Half Marathon $80, and 5K $40. From May 1 to Sept. 9, registration fees are 50K $110, Half Marathon $90, and 5K $50. Registration fees Sept. 1 to Sept. 14 are 50K $120, Half Marathon $100, and 5K $60. Registration closes on June Sept. 14. There will be no race day registrations.
After the race, hydration and light snacks will be provided to participants. Local vendors from the Kaʻū community will sell chili and rice bowls, Portuguese beach soup, nachos and other foods as well as beverages. Kaʻū Coffee Mill's shop will open at 8 a.m.
The website says, "From Keiki to Kupuna, the Kaʻū Coffee Trail Run is a challenging course that meanders over Pahala’s unpaved trails. It is the perfect race venue, through coffee fields and macadamia nut groves. The Kaʻū Coffee Mill’s 1,900 acres features courses from 50K, Half Marathon and 5k distances. Please join us for the southern most race in the U.S. The run is done entirely on private property." See last year's results from the late September event, photos and much more at https://www.kaucoffeetrailruns.com/
|Mauna Kea research. Photo from Center for Maunakea Stewardship|
This is a turning point for the future of astronomy in Hawai'i, and the administration and faculty at the University of Hawai'i plainly recognize that. So do many other people in the islands who rightly fear that passage of House Bill 2024, even as amended by the Senate, would do permanent damage to the astronomy mission through a comprehensive restructuring of how the summit of the mountain is managed.
The message it would send, if enacted: Hawai'i is not firmly committed to the pursuit of astronomy from the UH flagship telescope complex on Hawai;i island. That’s because it would shift control to a new entity with only token representation of astronomy as a scientific pursuit and an academic discipline.
And that’s why the best outcome would be a simple rejection of HB 2024 by the Senate.
|Center for Maunakea Stewardship operates programs for native plant preservation.|
Photo from Center for Maunakea Stewardship
This new group would assume oversight responsibility from UH, and would be the “sole authority for the management of state-managed lands on Mauna Kea under its jurisdiction.”
The authority was conceived by a working group the Legislature authorized last year, in an effort to reconcile an emotional divide. The conflict has been building over decades, but it crystallized more recently, over the controversial proposal to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project as the latest state-of-the art facility. A passionate and widespread opposition arose largely from the Native Hawaiian community, which itself is divided on the issue.
The construction timetable for TMT is uncertain, but in any case, this legislation is about more than any single project. Without a vote of confidence for the study of astronomy more broadly at Mauna Kea, the blow to the enterprise would be felt nationally and internationally.
Of course, even in its original form the bill’s preamble acknowledges the summit both for its spiritual, cultural and environmental significance to Native Hawaiians and for astronomy’s “many significant discoveries that contribute to humanity’s study and understanding of the universe.”
Further down in the legal language, though, the allegiance to continuing scientific advances grows dim. Under the "astronomy development" section, there’s a concerning statement about establishing "a plan to return the mauna above 9,200 feet elevation to its natural state."
|Kupaoa, a rare native plant in the U.H. Maunakea |
Stewardship area, abloom in March. Photo from U.H.
This view is far from settled. The counterargument is that land-based telescopes will have crucial advantages for the foreseeable future. Experts making this case point to their size, reliability and upgradability.
What’s damaging is the stated plan to rid the mauna of telescopes, period. This would up-end the state’s longstanding policy of support for astronomy, and at a particularly sensitive time.
Opponents to the bill who testified on Wednesday included Greg Chun, executive director of the Center for Maunakea Stewardship at UH-Hilo. In prepared testimony that also is signed by UH President David Lassner, he pointed to the termination of the current general lease on the land in 2033 as worrying, given the three-year timeline for getting the new entity up and running, and “the lack of a viable business plan” for the change.
Worrying, to be sure.
It’s significant that the Senate draft of the bill would add the UH Board of Regents chair or designee, and a representative from Mauna Kea Observatories to the authority board’s voting members, 11 in all. It also would require an audit after the seventh year, and if that study finds the authority falling short, the management would revert to the UH president and Board of Regents.
Critics of UH management cite the admittedly poor stewardship by UH in the past but, as has been said repeatedly, that is the increasingly distant past. Since then, Chun said, successive audits have tracked progress toward decommissioning inactive telescopes and other management goals.
Should the influence of Native Hawaiian values, and the voices of Native Hawaiian cultural advocates, be strengthened? Absolutely.
But rather than create a new entity, this strengthening should happen within the UH framework, which combines a growing cultural awareness with the scientific expertise necessary to maintain one of the finest astronomy sites in the planet, for the benefit of Hawaii and the world.
This is a turning point for the future of astronomy in Hawai'i, and the administration and faculty at the University of Hawai'i plainly recognize that.
SEE UPCOMING EVENTS IN KAʻŪ & VOLCANO