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Friday, June 16, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Friday, June 16, 2023

Hawai'i Congressman Ed Case said he has serious concerns about proposed federal budget slashing of WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children. Photo from State of Hawai'i

FUNDING AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY has won approval from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations. Congressman Ed Case said at least 12 bills will directly support measures in Hawai'i. However, he said he is deeply concerned about proposed deep slashes to WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Case said he "could not support the overall measure in its current form because its proposed reduction of overall funding to $17.1 billion, a level last seen in 2007, does not match current needs.
     "The proposal slashes funding to critical programs I have supported in the past including harmful changes to the Women, Infants and Children cash value voucher that cuts benefits for five million women, infants and children enrolled in the program. In another example, this funding measure will hurt my Hawai‘i by denying assistance to needy farmers through the distressed farm loan program.” 
      Overall, the FY 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill proposes to spend $25.3 billion to support the bulk of the programs of the 
Department of Agriculture. Case said, “My Committee’s agriculture funding bill recognized that dangers that invasive species pose to our Hawai'i’s unique ecosystems, natural resources and agricultural communities. The bill provides resources and the federal focus needed to help Hawai‘i combat Coffee Leaf Rust, the Coffee Berry Borer, the Avocado Lace Bug and other invasive species.” 
    Case said he was able to secure a number of programs and provisions including: $36 million for Agriculture Quarantine Inspections to prevent infestations of pests and diseases.  $15 million for the Minor Crop Pest Management Program to provide expert assistance to minor and specialty crop producers; $122 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; $269 million in ReConnect funding to meet continued strong demand to provide loans, grants and loan-grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas; $32 billion for child nutrition programs; a $3.5 billion increase over FY 2023, which includes the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Summer Food Service Programs. 
    Also approved is $1.2 billion for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that includes $9 million for specialty crop pests; $1.6 billion for the Rental Assistance Program; $374 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food to low-income seniors; $125 million for the USDA Wildlife Damage Management Program and $50 million for loans authorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. 
    In addition is $20 million for Rural Cooperative Development Grants including $8 million for the Value-added Agricultural Product Market Development Grant Program;  $8 million for the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program that is designed to prevent water source pollution; $3.5 million for Agricultural Canine Detection and Surveillance of invasive species and diseases, an increase of $500,000; and maintenance of funding for coffee research to address the threats of Coffee Leaf Rust and Coffee Berry Borer on our iconic coffee industry. 
    The bill provides recognition of the critical need for continued tropical and subtropical crops research; maintenance of funding for research on the macadamia felted coccid; and $5 million for Education Grants for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, the first increase for this vital program in years. Case said, "This program addresses the
educational needs of food and agricultural sciences-related disciplines and prepares low-income students for careers related to food, agricultural and natural resources. 
    Other funding includes $2 million for aquaculture research programs and recognition of the essential role the program plays in regional aquaculture centers; $91 million for the Economic Research Service; recognition of the importance of continuing to support combatting invasive species in the Indo-Pacific;  protection fo current funding level for the macadamia tree health research initiative and directing the Agricultural Research Service to ensure each of its facilities housing animals are adhering to the Animal Welfare Act at all times. 
    The measure continues to support coordinated research efforts to address the impact of the Avocado Lace Bug. It supports strategies to mitigate the impact of axis deer on native forests. 
    The bill now moves onto the full House of Representatives for consideration. 

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UNVEILING EARTH'S MAGNETIC SECRETS is the subject of U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's latest Volcano Watch, which is written weekly by scientists and affiliates. This week's column focuses on paleomagnetism and its geological applications:
    When we think about the Earth's magnetic field, we often associate it with compasses and navigation. However, did you know that our planet's magnetic field has a rich history of change, including switching of polarity, that spans millions of years?
    This captivating field of study, known as paleomagnetism, allows us to delve into the Earth's magnetic past and understand how our planet has evolved over time. In this Volcano Watch, we will explore the concept of paleomagnetism, its components, its significance in geology, and the noteworthy contributions of USGS scientist Duane Champion in volcanology. This article is dedicated to Duane, a good friend and valuable colleague who passed away earlier this year.
USGS scientist Duane Champion with two colleagues
Duane Champion, left, with coworkers, helped unlock Pele's secrets by studying the magnetic properties preserved in lava flows.
"A good friend and valuable colleague, he greatly improved our ability to reconstruct past geological events using paleomagnetism.
 He will be missed," says a statement from HVO. Photo from HVO
Chart showing paleomagnetic secular variation curve for the past two thousand years
Paleomagnetic secular variation curve for the past two thousand years. Label dates are mean ages before present (B.P.) or Anno 
Domini (AD), with gray circles indicating estimated error. Note that the magnetic field changes in declination (horizontal arched
lines) and inclination (angled vertical lines) over time. Diagram is a section of an equal-area net where symbols indicate directions projected from the lower hemisphere. USGS image

    Paleomagnetism also aids in dating rocks and archaeological artifacts. By comparing the magnetic signature in rocks to known changes in the Earth's magnetic field and/or dated lava flows, scientists can estimate their ages. This technique, known as paleomagnetic dating, complements other dating methods and contributes to the development of accurate geological timescales.
    In geologic terrains, specifically in Hawai'i, reliably correlating older lava flows is a major challenge on volcanoes that consist entirely of compositionally similar basalt. Criteria for correlation include physical appearance, flow morphology, paleomagnetic pole directions, chemistry, and assorted evidence on the lava flow age. Magnetic minerals that crystallize from molten magma record the Earth's magnetic field direction
at the time of their cooling. Accordingly, paleomagnetic measurements are indispensable for making correlations among flows over large distances.
    In the field of paleomagnetism, Duane Champion made notable contributions that have advanced our understanding of volcanism in the western United States. Champion's studies also contributed to refining
paleomagnetic dating techniques, enabling more accurate dating of eruptive activity. In Hawaii, Duane'swork
Halema'uma'u on Thursday night. Photo by Rachel Salas Didier
with paleomagnetism allowed us to unlock some of Pele's secrets by studying the magnetic properties preserved in lava flows. Working closely with geologists, he greatly improved our ability to reconstruct past geological events. His high standards of sample collection and lab processing are admired internationally. Along-time colleague of Volcano Science Center geologists, Duane leaves a legacy that will live long into the future.

Volcano Activity Updates: Kīlauea is erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is WATCH.
    Eruptive activity is currently confined to Halemaʻumaʻu crater within Kīlauea's summit caldera. One eruptive vent is active at this time, effusing into a lava lake in the far southwestern portion of the crater.
Following the eruption onset on June 7, summit tilt was initially deflationary, but the past several days have seen no substantial tilt changes. Summit seismic activity has been dominated by eruptive tremor. Volcanic gas emissions in the eruption area are elevated; a sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate of approximately 5,300 tonnes per day was measured on June 14.
    Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL. Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Seismicity remains low. Summit ground deformation rates show inflation above background levels, but this is not uncommon following eruptions. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.
    There were no earthquakes with 3 or more felt reports in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week.
HVO continues to closely monitor Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.
View from the southern rim of Halemaʻumaʻu crater at the summit of Kīlauea on Friday, showing the southwest eruptive vent that is currently spattering and feeding lava flows on the crater floor. The fountaining is continuous, with lava bombs being thrown at least 10 m (33 ft) upwards and at least twice that distance away from the vent. USGS photo by D. Downs

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EIGHTEEN MOTORISTS WERE ARRESTED FOR DUI on this island from June 5 through June 11. Hawai'i Police Department reports that five of the drivers were involved in a traffic collision. One was under the age of 21. So far this year, there have been 451 DUI arrests compared with 478 during the same period last year, a decrease of 5.6 percent.