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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Ka‘ū News Briefs, Tuesday, April 26, 2022


The County of Hawai'i announced Tuesday, it will hold a community informational session this Thursday
 at Pāhala Community Center from 5 p.m. to 7 pm. The public is invited to attend or join in by zoom.

KAʻŪ DISTRICT INFORMATIONAL SESSION WILL BE HELD THIS THURSDAY,  5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Pāhala Community Center at 96-1149 Kamani St. The meeting, to be hosted by County of Hawai'i, will be open to the public and also available on Zoom. The meeting ID: 160 055 4683. Password: 845228. Dial in" +1 669 254 5253.

    A statement from the County, entitled Ka'ū District: Various County Informational Sessions, says, "The County of Hawai'i is sponsoring community informational sessions throughout the Island. Through the informational sessions we are sharing what our County Departments are accomplishing and additional programs which are available to community members." The memo on the meeting was sent out Monday afternoon to all those "signed up for updates from the Ka'ū Community Development Plan Action Committee," according to the announcement. ReadKa'ū Community Development Plan at https://www.hawaiicountycdp.info/kau-cdp.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at. www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.

THE STATE WILL PAY $328 MILLION TO SETTLE A HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS BENEFICIARY CLASS ACTION SUIT. The 23-year old suit was filed in 1999 as Kalima, et al. v. State of Hawaiʻi, et al, claiming that the state failed in its fiduciary duty by failing to provide Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries, homes, house lots or agricultural parcels, as required by the Hawaiian Homes Act of Congress in 1921. More than 400 beneficiaries died over the decades while on the waiting list to lease properties for housing and agricultural pursuits. The number of plaintiffs in the case totals more than 2,700.
    Gov. David Ige made the announcement on Tuesday that the state would settle. The Hawai'i Legislature voted its approval. The governor's statement said "the state will pay the plaintiff class $328 million in exchange for a full, global release of all claims, including damages, attorneys' fees, and litigation costs." 

Hawaian Home Lands in Ka'u are shown encircled in red. Hawaiian Home Lands owns 
lots in Discovery Harbour, lands mauka of Punalu'u and mauka of Hwy 11 in Waiohinu,
in addition to Ka Lae lands running to South Point. Map from State of Hawai'i

    The $328 million payment will also cover claims administration costs and the cost to retain a court-appointed Special Master to oversee and account for the funds.
    The governor said, "This necessary resolution fairly compensates the Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries and brings this litigation to a close, but it is not the end of the story. I remain committed to developing and delivering homes for the Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries." The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has announced an aggressive budget to put Hawaiians in homes and on farms and ranches.
    Hawai'i's Attorney General Holly T. Shikada said, "After weeks of intensive negotiations with the assistance of the settlement judge, the Honorable Gary W.B. Chang, the parties have reached a fair and necessary resolution of this longstanding case – for both the members of the plaintiff class and the State as a whole. We may now put 23 years of litigation to rest and move forward with implementation of the settlement."
    According to the governor's statement, the settlement funds will be paid into an account controlled by

the Court and disbursed under the supervision of the court-appointed Special Master. The settlement must also receive preliminary and final approvals from the Circuit Court to ensure that the terms are fair to class members.
    After the Kalima lawsuit was filed in 1999 as a class action, Hawai'i Supreme Court ruled that individual beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust could bring an action to recover damages arising from breaches of trust occurring between August 21, 1959 and June 30, 1988. The case has undergone trials on liability and the measure of damages, and two separate appeals.
    Recently, the Hawai'i Supreme Court decided an appeal and cross-appeal relating to the Waiting List Subclass, a group of claimants contending that breaches of trust by the State caused them unreasonable delay in receiving a homestead award. In Kalima v. State, 148 Hawai'i 129 (2020), the Court affirmed various orders entered by the Circuit Court. These included orders holding the State liable for breaches of trust and establishing a damages model used to calculate Waiting List Subclass members' damages.
    The plaintiffs' attorneys have established an informational telephone hotline. Class members with questions regarding the details of the settlement can call (808) 650-5551 and 1-833-639-1308 or email questions to info@kalima-lawsuit.com for more information.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at. www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.

'AHINAHINA, ENDANGERED KAʻŪ SILVERSWORDS, HAVE BEEN NURTURED FROM NEAR EXTINCTION. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park resource managers and conservation partners have been very successful in growing and thriving Kaʻū silverswords in protected communities in the Kahuku Unit, according to Sierra McDaniel, acting deputy Natural Resource Manager for Hawai'i Volcanoes. She gave a slide show at a recent Coffee Talk at Kahuku, saying that behind this achievement lies many years of back-breaking work, methodical planning and the wise use of available resources.

A magnificent flowering Silversword photographed in 2012.
Photo by Mark Wasser

    McDaniel explained that silverswords are rarely seen by visitors to the park. They are not only rare, but also grow in open ʻōhiʻa woodland at high elevations (between 5,000 and 10,000 feet) on Mauna Loa - a part of the park largely unseen by most visitors at Kahuku.
    “Upper Kahuku is one of my favorite places on earth,” said McDaniel, who is very enthusiastic when talking about ‘ahinahina - the silverswords.
    For most of their lives, these plants have dense rosettes of spikey, sword-like leaves that radiate from the base, much like the non-native century plants. They are named for the beautiful shine of soft, silver hairs that cover their leaves. When they flower, they produce towering, fragrant blooms that can reach up to six feet high. Typically, this happens in the summer months.     They bloom only once producing pollen then seeds before the entire plant dies. In the wild, it takes about 30 - 50 years for a plant to flower, explained McDaniel.
    It is very likely that prior to introduction of ungulates (cattle, pigs, goats) to the Hawaiʻi Island, various species of silverswords covered the upper slopes of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and Haleakalā on Maui. Their numbers could have been in the tens of thousands, according to McDaniel.
    This natural wonder became almost extinct when herds of ungulates, which were introduced by the early European settlers, found grazing on silverswords to be almost irresistible. This intense grazing severely and dramatically reduced the plants’ abilities to grow and reproduce on the mountains. In addition, introduced ants also contributed to the near-extinction of these beautiful plants by interrupting the life cycle of the Yellow-Faced Bee that pollinates the plants, explained McDaniel.
    By the late 1990s only a few hundred Kaʻū silversword were known to be growing in the old Kahuku Ranch.
    When the National Park Service acquired 116,000 acres of the Kahuku Ranch in 2003, the land had been ravaged by cattle, goats, and pigs for about a century. The situation for silverswords had worsened when, between 1968 and 1974, eleven Mouflon sheep, that are native to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, were introduced to Kahuku Ranch in order to establish a private game herd for commercial

'Ahinahina, the Kaʻū Silverswords at Keapohina photographed in 1974 prior to the arrival of mouflon. The seeds from
 the plants growing here in 2004 were used to grow seedlings in a greenhouse at Volcano. Later, some of those seedlings
 were outplanted in exclosures in the Kahuku Unit. Photo by Jacobi
hunting. By 2004 the herd was estimated to number 2,500 animals. The park’s resource managers quickly realized that without removing the Mouflon, the park’s native flora could never recover. Over a 13-year-period from 2004 to 2017, managers worked to construct boundary fencing and small exclosures to exclude mouflon from areas within the Kahuku Unit in an effort to restore the natural landscape.
    McDaniel told her Coffee Talk audience that Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is home to 54 listed bird, mammal, reptile, plant and insect species, five of which have been designated “flag ship species” meaning they are among the top priorities for conservation efforts. The five are the honuʻea (Hawaiian hawksbill turtle) the nēnē (Hawaiian goose), the ‘u’au (Hawaiian petrel), the ‘ahinahina (Kaʻū silversword) and the Lobeliad group which includes Pele lobeliad (Clermontia peleana).
    McDaniel showed slides and explained how park resource managers set about bringing back the ʻahinahina population, beginning in 2004.
    Scientists and botanists began collecting pollen from the surviving plants, and also hand-pollinated them to ensure diversity - an important need when restoring a population. They then collected the seeds, noting which “mother plant” produced the seeds with pollen from which other plants. Park managers worked with conservation partners to established a breeding population in a green house in Volcano
Sierra McDaniel points out the location of the sites in the Kahuku Unit where
 'Ahinahina, the Kaʻū Silverswords are being restored. Photo by Annie Bosted
known as the Volcano Rare Plant Facility. Working in a greenhouse was easier than working in the field, and it was easier to ensure the health and well-being of the plants. Between 2004 and 2009 they raised 10,212 seedlings derived from 73 plants. Plants in the green house are able to grow and mature faster than in the wild - usually flowering in about two to ten years.
    While the plants were growing in the greenhouse, managers established a 30-acre exclosure, named Keapohina in the Kahuku Unit, choosing an area where silverswords had been known to thrive. The 
exclosure was heavily fenced to keep out all the ungulates, including the Mouflon sheep.
    Hundreds of plants that were raised in the exclosure have since reached maturity, flowered, set seed, and “parented” a new generation of over 3,000 new seedlings. Botanists still collect seeds, and these are either used for germinating another generation of plants in the nursery or they are stored in a seed bank as insurance against a future disaster.
    Once the Keapohina site was thriving, park botanists began establishing another site, named Kilohana, which means “Lookout.” Located at the 7,400’ elevation, this site has 19 acres fenced. In October 2021, 78 plants were planted there, where flags were used to document each plant. So far 97 percent have survived from this planting.
   Although the recovery of the the Kaʻū silverswords is well underway, McDaniel and her colleagues are continuing to work to ensure a brighter future for these marvels of evolution by establishing more enclosures.
    “The plants are still vulnerable,” cautions McDaniel. “We have 30 acres doing very well at Kahuku, but one lava flow could wipe all that out.....and many would not survive a serious drought.
    “It’s impossible to describe the joy we feel to see these plants thrive in the wild again,” she concluded.
    The next Coffee Talk presentation will be on Saturday, May 14 at 9:30 a.m. The subject will be The Endangered Hawai’i Petrel.

Kaʻū Silversword seedlings growing at the Volcano Rare Plant Facility. NPS photo

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see www.facebook.com/kaucalendar/. See latest print edition at. www.kaucalendar.com. See upcoming events at https://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2022/03/upcoming-events-for-kau-and-volcano.


See The Ka'ū Calendar April edition at
www.kaucalendar.com, on newsstands and in the mail.