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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023

Growing kalo organically would be a practice that could be supported by a new program through USDA, Hawai‘i Farmers Union United, U.H., and MAO Organic Farms. Dryland kalo was a crop grown in Wood Valley many years ago. Photo from HFUU
A TRANSITION TO ORGANIC PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM is open for applicants with the aim to support farmers and agricultural businesses in their journey from conventional farming methods to organic practices. The TOPP grant is a nationwide program and is a part of the USDA initiative to support the organic agriculture sector. The USDA is investing $300 million over five years to support the organic sector. USDA chose locally based partners to carry out the program.
    Hawai‘i Farmers Union United will provide mentorship, training, and outreach. The University of Hawai‘i CTAHR will provide Technical Assistance and Resources. MAO Organic Farms on O'ahu will provide Workforce Development and Field days. All three of the Hawai‘i partners are working in collaboration to help promote organic farming in Hawai‘i. "This is monumental since it is the first time that there has been a significant amount of resources for organic farming through the USDA," said a statement from HFUU.
    Program Overview: Farmers will be matched with a mentor to help guide them on the steps to transitioning to a certified organic operation through 90 hours of mentorship over a two-year period. Mentors will be experts in the field and will provide guidance on farming practices, methods of management, record keeping, and the application process. There are available resources to help make the transition (i.e. soil tests and similar) as well as a $500 stipend per farmer. Mentors will need to have a minimum of three years of experience working in a certified organic operation and will be compensated at an hourly rate.
    Who should apply? HFUU is seeking all interested farmers in crop production, livestock, value-added, or wild harvest. Applicants must have a desire to make the transition to certified organic and should be actively farming. New farmers are also encouraged to apply if they are planning on becoming a certified organic operation.
    How to become involved: Those interested in participating as a farmer or becoming a mentor, reach out to Christian Zuckerman at organictransitions@hfuu.org.

A FARM TO SCHOOL GRANT PROGRAM SEEKS APPLICATIONS. USDA Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program is designed to help implement farm-to-school programming to increase access to local food in eligible schools, connect children with agriculture for improved health, and inspire youth to consider careers in agriculture. For more information and to apply, visit the program's website. Applications are due by Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. See https://www.grants.gov/search-results-detail/350548.

HAWAI'I RESIDENTS HAVE THE NINTH HIGHEST AVERAGE CREDIT SCORES in the country, according to a WalletHub study released on Thursday. With household debt on the rise, fueled by inflation and record-high interest rates, the personal finance website WalletHub released its report on the States
with the Highest & Lowest Credit Scores in 2023 to illustrate how people in different parts of the country are holding up financially. 
   The average credit score in Hawai‘i is 715, which ranks ninth highest in the U.S. Cassandra Happe, WalletHub Analyst. said, "It is encouraging to see these positive credit scores, despite the challenges that many consumers are facing with the current economy and inflation. These high scores are a sign that even though many Americans are struggling with financial obstacles, they are still prioritizing their debts."
    Highest credit scores are in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Washington, South Dakota and Hawai‘i. The worst credit score is in Mississippi, followed by Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Nevada and South Carolina.

KAPAPAHULIAU CLIMATE RESILIENCE PROGRAM will receive $20 million, according to U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and local Hawaiian organizations can apply for funding. The program aims to help strengthen climate resilience in the Native Hawaiian community. The funding will support the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations, which manages Kapapahuliau Climate Resilience Program. The program promises to provide Native Hawaiian organizations with resources to navigate the effects of climate change.
    Hirono said, “Compared to the rest of the country, Hawai‘i is unique in many ways—our food, our communities, our local culture—and the climate challenges we face are no exception. Sea level rise,

higher land and ocean temperatures, and invasive species all present serious challenges to our islands. By making $20 million available specifically for Native Hawaiian Organizations, this new program reflects the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to supporting indigenous communities’ needs, values, and priorities. Environmental stewardship is an important part of Native Hawaiian culture, so I’m glad that this funding will be available to support the community’s efforts to combat the effects of climate change and strengthen climate resilience.”
    The funding is provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, which Hirono helped pass into law in 2022. The funding follows the Biden-Harris Administration’s release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated report assessing the science of climate change in the United States, its impacts, and options for reducing present and future risk, including specific impacts on Hawai‘i and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands.
    Office of Native Hawaiian Relations will host two 120-minute virtual pre-proposal informational sessions on Nov, 29 and Dec. 13 at 2:30 p.m. to provide an overview of the Kapapahuliau Program and address questions for interested applicants. The deadline to apply for funding is Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.

WATER PREPAREDNESS FOR EXTENDED POWER OUTAGES is the message Thursday from county Department of Water Supply. It requires a significant amount of dependable electricity to move approximately 25 million gallons of water each day and deliver it to more than 45,000 homes, businesses, farms, and community facilities located throughout much of Hawai‘i Island. 
     Hawaiian Electric mentioned in its Nov. 3 statement on its Wildfire Safety Strategy, “If a fault or
disturbance is detected on a circuit, power lines in risk areas shut off automatically until crews visually confirm that it is safe to restore power. This may result in longer outages in some areas, including outages that last overnight” See www.hawaiianelectric.com/hawaiianelectric-advances-wildfire-safety-strategy-expands-grid-resilience-work
   Department of Water Supply reminded the public in its own statement Thursday that it utilizes backup generators at key well sites to help maintain a limited amount of water service during temporary power outages. However, an extended power outage could leave portions of DWS’ water systems empty and customers with no water. Should this scenario be anticipated, DWS stated that it "will instruct its affected customers to use their tap water only for drinking, cooking, and hygiene purposes to preserve the limited amount of available potable water. Irrigation, car washing, and non-essential uses of water would be suspended until power is restored. DWS strongly urges its customers and those who depend on a continuous supply of DWS water to review their personal situations and prepare accordingly. Customers should have alternate sources of potable water and enough supply to meet their essential needs during a prolonged power outage that disrupts DWS service."
     Ways to safely store drinking water are listed in the Water Emergency Preparedness guide available under the “Community” drop-down menu option on the Department’s website, www.hawaiidws.org. Updated messaging is posted at www.hawaiidws.org and at www.facebook.com/HawaiiDWS/. To reach DWS, call (808) 961-8050.

HAWAI‘I HAS ONE OF THE LOWEST RATES OF SMOKING AND NEW LUNG CANCER CASES. However, the American Lung Association's State of Lung Cancer 2023 report released this week ranks
Hawai‘i worst in the country for early diagnosis and five-year survival and ranks Hawai‘i below average in screening, lack of treatment and surgical treatment. Hawai‘i is sixth lowest in new cases, with least cases occurring in Utah, followed by New Mexico, California, Colorado, Wyoming and Hawai‘i. The most new cases of lung cancer are found in Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi. Tennessee, Maine and Missouri.
    Regarding smoking, in Hawai'i, 10.1 percent of adults smoke, fourth lowest in the country. Least  number of smokers is in Utah, followed by California, District of Columbia, Hawai‘i. Maryland and Massachusetts. Most smokers are found in West Virginia, followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Children watch from a distance during a volcanic eruption demonstration using liquid nitrogen
Trashcano eruption is created with liquid nitrogen during a school visit at UH Hilo.
UH Hilo photo by Meghann Decker.
CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF ACTIVE VOLCANOES training, school and community outreach on this island are the subject of this week's Volcano Watch, written by Center staff Darcy Bevens and Meghann Decker and presented by USGS Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory:
    During volcanic crises, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory plays a pivotal role, sharing information on activity and associated hazards with close partners on the Island of Hawai‘i, including the Mayor's Office, Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency. However, during non-crisis periods, HVO maintains a range of lesser-known partnerships with state and county agencies.
    One noteworthy outreach comes from the collaborative program between USGS and University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, called Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes. Beyond its contributions to Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes International Training Program (See International Volcano Scientist Training Course Returns to Hawaii July 6 2023 at ), USGS Volcano Hazards Program upholds a cooperative agreement that facilitates UH Hilo students' working alongside HVO scientists and technical teams dedicated to monitoring Hawai‘i's volcanoes. It also supports an active hazards outreach program to educate Hawai‘i's keiki about our natural hazards and the importance of preparedness.
   To fulfill this educational mission, Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes launched an array of public outreach programs in the early 1990s, including community seminars, teacher training workshops, and school visits across the Island of Hawaiʻi. The team quickly recognized the eagerness of schoolchildren to learn about natural hazards, particularly enjoying hands-on demonstrations such as the tsunami wave tank and baking soda volcano. The outreach endeavors even extended to preschools, adhering to the adage, "If you plan for a year, plant kalo. If you plan for ten years, plant koa. If you plan for 100 years, teach the children."
CSAV staff Meghann Decker and UH Hilo Geology Alumni Sadie Nguyen
 talk with children at a Science Night. UH Hilo photo by Darcy Bevens.
    One of Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes' goals is to educate the general public on hazards associated with volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. This education encompasses both scientific aspects of hazards and strategies for mitigating risk. It emphasizes educating children and adolescents of Hawai‘i nei about the importance of emergency kits, evacuation plans, and effective communication during disasters. This cultural shift towards preparedness can save lives and reduce damage during hazardous events.
   The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated suspending face-to-face school visits. However, the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes' staff is happy to have recently resumed in-person public outreach through classroom visits and community events. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory remains steadfast in its commitment to monitoring volcanoes in Hawai‘i, gathering data, assessing potential hazards, and disseminating information to relevant agencies and the public. Working in tandem emphasizes the importance of educating the younger generation. By engaging and educating youths on volcanic hazards, we can create a more resilient and informed community prepared to respond to and mitigate the impact of these events.
    While teaching natural hazards to schoolchildren, Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes staff noted that students exhibited a strong interest in science and local geology. Consequently, the outreach program expanded to include educational sessions for school groups on rocks and minerals, with a specific focus on Hawaiian volcanic products like pāhoehoe, pumice, and Pele's Hair. Students are encouraged to consider STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses, and, at events such as Career Day for high school groups, they are recommended to explore science programs at UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College.
     Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes' efforts are supported by the UH Hilo Geology department to facilitate mentorship, and to support science fair participants and visiting schools. Students are exposed to analytical equipment and spectacular demonstrations such as the Trashcano, a simulated volcanic eruption with a 50-gallon trash can and liquid nitrogen.
Double Ānuenue on Kīlauea Volcano
On Kīlauea volcano this morning, down Chain of Craters Road, NPS photographer Janice Wei captured this double ānuenue near Muliwai a Pele overlook. See more on Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park at https://www.facebook.com/hawaiivolcanoesnps

    Working together, HVO, CSAV, and UH Hilo educate and inform Island of Hawaiʻi kamaʻāina. We hope to better prepare people of all ages, from keiki to tutu, for the range of natural hazards associated with volcanoes in our backyard that can potentially impact them. Look for CSAV at upcoming community events such as career days, Girl Scouts STEM, West Hawai‘i Exploration Fair, and school science nights.
   To learn more, visit the CSAV outreach page: https://hilo.hawaii.edu/csav/outreach.php.

Volcano Activity Updates:
    Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY.
    The unrest associated with the intrusion that began in early October southwest of Kīlauea's summit continues. An earthquake swarm located immediately south of Kīlauea's caldera. which began Friday, Nov. 10, persists with moderate levels of seismicity and HVO continues to monitor this activity. Unrest may continue to wax and wane with changes to the input of magma into the area and eruptive activity could occur in the near future with little or no warning. The most recent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate for the summit—approximately 100 tonnes per day—was measured on Oct. 19.
    Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.
    Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Summit seismicity has increased slightly in the past month, while ground deformation indicates slow inflation as magma replenishes the reservoir system following the 2022 eruption. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.
    No earthquakes were reported in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week.
    HVO promises to continue to closely monitor Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Email questions to askHVO@usgs.gov.

7,500 printed, 5,000 in the mail.