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Monday, December 11, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs December 11, 2023

Young Santa and his Helpers
Santa and menehune helpers from Halau Hula O Leionalani at Ke Ola Pu'uhonua in Nāʻālehu last Saturday. Photo by Brenda Iokepa Moses
A COUNTY MEASURE TO REDUCE THE COST OF INSTALLING SOLAR AND TO MAKE PERMITTING EASIER is a reality. The County Council passed the bill and Mayor Mitch Roth signed Bill 66 this week. He said that it will bring about cost reductions for homeowners and bolster the clean, green energy transition on Hawaiʻi Island.
    It was authored and introduced by Councilmember Matt Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder, who stated, "The intent of the bill is to align Hawaiʻi County with our sister counties, create cohesive efficiency in permitting requirements, and decrease the cost of Residential Solar Installations for our community."
    Bill 66 amends Chapter 5, Article 4, Section 5-4-3 of Hawaiʻi County Code 1983 and streamlines the
Cost of installing solar and ease with permitting is expected under new bill from
 the county council signed into law this week. Photo from ProVision Solar
permitting process for solar electric systems and ensures that electrical design drawings and specifications, as well as plans and specifications for building work, are prepared by licensed professionals, simplifying the process for most solar electric systems, says the statement from the County.
    The Mayor said, "We know that the cost of living is going up, that building material prices are increasing, and that interest rates are at a high. That's why we're doing all we can to ensure that our residents can continue calling Hawaiʻi Island home by working to eliminate the red tape and replacing it with commonsense approaches. We'd like to mahalo Councilmember Kānealiʻi-Kleinfelder for drafting this bill and our Council for ultimately approving it."
    Marco Mangelsdorf, representing ProVision Solar, commended the collaborative effort that led to the successful passage of Bill 66. "From the initial idea this past summer to implementation in the fall, this beneficial and practical policy change coming to fruition reminds me that the government can and does work to promote the needed change to accelerate the clean, green energy transition on our island." Mangelsdord said, "Bill 66, going into effect, will make it easier to get the vast majority of solar electric systems permitted and bring down the cost to homeowners."
    The Mayor said he encourages residents to explore the benefits of this policy change and take proactive steps toward adopting solar energy solutions for their homes.

AN IDEA FROM MAUI COULD HELP local people solve the housing shortage by using their own land and equity in their properties to finance and build 'ohana units to rent at lower than market price. The idea was before Maui's County Council before the Lahaina fires that destroyed homes and exacerbated Maui's extreme housing shortage. The Maui program would provide grants of up to $100,000 to each property owner who, for ten years, would rent 'ohana units at rates under federal affordable housing guidelines. 
    On Maui, last Friday a bill passed the County Council's first reading to provide $2.5 million for the funding. Second and final reading is set for January.
    On Maui, two 'Ohana dwellings area allowed on lots that are at least 7,500 square feet. On Hawai'i Island, lots have to be at least 14,500 square feet for one 'ohana dwelling.
    On Maui, anyone receiving the grant who breaks the agreement to rent at affordable rates would have to pay the county back the prorated amount for the time the additional dwelling unit is not used in affordable housing.

Various fishes attracted to dFAD. Photo by Kydd Pollock of The Nature Conservancy

USING FISH AGGREGATING DEVICES AS CONSERVATION TOOLS is an idea supported in a study by The Nature Conservancy and Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Assistance also comes from TNC's Lab at Palmyra Atoll. The study, published in the journal Conservation Letters. says research shows that using FADs could enhance the effectiveness of blue water marine protected areas. The
paper suggests FADs, deployed by commercial fishing fleets worldwide, could also be used to retain targeted fish species within Marine Protected Areas, where there is no or limited fishing, long enough to benefit the local fish population.
   "As governments and conservation groups world-round set sights on protecting 30 percent of the world's ocean habitat by 2030, figuring out how to maximize the value of protected ocean patches for pelagic species should be a key objective," says Alex Wegmann, Ph.D., co-author of the paper and Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy's Island Resilience Strategy.
dFAD in the waters of Palmyra Atoll
Photo by Chris Ryen of TNC
    A FAD is a matt or raft attached to floats or buoys that can be anchored or designed to drift (dFAD) in the open ocean and attract fish that swim past in schools. dFADs are usually fitted with a satellite location device that also monitors fish biomass beneath the FAD. The species of pelagic fish commonly targeted by commercial operations using FADs include tuna, billfish and mahi-mahi (dolphin fish); globally, most canned tuna are caught using dFADs.
    "The technology has transformed the world's open ocean fisheries over the past 20 years," says co-author Michael Bode from QUT. "Drifting FADs attract schools of these fish, making them easier and cheaper to catch."
     While larger than nearshore MPAs, blue water MPAs are small relative to the vast ocean, making protecting pelagic species in these areas difficult.
     "By putting FADs inside MPAs, we could increase the time that species like tuna spend in those MPAs (where they can't be caught) thereby reducing mortality rates," says co-author Edward T. Game, TNC's Asia Pacific Lead Scientist & Director of Conservation. "Somewhat amazingly, we found that even a small number of FADs inside a blue water MPA can meaningfully amplify the benefits of that MPA."
    Palmyra Atoll is a protected area in the central Pacific Ocean roughly 1,000 miles south of Hawai'i, managed by The Nature Conservancy.
    "Using FADs as a conservation tool is unique," says co-author Kydd Pollock, Pelagic Conservation Strategy Lead with The Nature Conservancy's Climate Adaptation and Resilience Laboratory at Palmyra Atoll. "We can have control over where they are positioned, so therefore can keep them inside an MPA and use them to aggregate the fish and increase their residence time within protected waters."    See nature.org/HawaiiPalmyra

HAWAI'I FARMERS AND LANDOWNERS CAN APPLY FOR FUNDING TO PLANT TREES. Deadline to apply is Dec. 31. The $6 million for Hawai'i comes from the Expanding Agroforestry Project and is one of 141 projects funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. Local applicants can be landowners, leaseholders, or negotiating leases for new agroforestry. Individuals, businesses, and nonprofits are all eligible, and underserved producers are encouraged to apply. Those interested, visit: nature.org/ExpandingAgroforestry.
Farmers, ranchers, landowners and lessees can receive up to $6 million in Hawai'i to plant trees.
See nature.org/ExpandingAgroforestry

   Over the course of five years, $36 million will be paid out to producers in direct incentive payments to transform 30,000 acres spanning 30 states into agroforestry systems, thus building a foundation for expanding agroforestry practices nationally. 
       The Nature Conservancy is the project lead nationwide and is working locally to manage the project with Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative. TNC is working nationally with Propagate, Savanna Institute, Tuskegee University, University of Missouri–The Center for Agroforestry, and Virginia Tech University. TNC manages the project, including coordinating with national partners to expand financing and develop markets for agroforestry commodities.
    “Agroforestry is an underutilized tool in our collective efforts to support rural economies while mitigating climate change,” said Audrey Epp Schmidt, agroforestry program manager for The Nature
Conservancy’s North America Regenerative Agriculture program. “Putting more trees on agricultural lands creates more resilient agricultural systems, and expanding the production of commodities grown in agroforestry systems can help drive new market opportunities to build an increasingly climate-smart food system.”
    A statement from program managers says that Agroforestry is used by less than 2% of farm operations in the U.S., "yet it can sequester 2 to 4 tons of carbon per acre per year in plant biomass. Adding trees to agricultural landscapes can also increase carbon stored in soils and decrease the use of fertilizers, reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on water quality. This project, which includes targeted efforts to increase accessibility and engagement with underserved producers, could eventually spur the adoption of agroforestry practices on tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmlands."
Kaʻū High Future Farmers took first in Vegetable Judging and other competitions at the District Convention last Saturday. 
Photo from Kaʻū High FFA

KAʻŪ'S FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA DID WELL IN COMPETITION at the District Convention at Kealakehe High School last Saturday, Dec. 9. Trojans competed against Kohala, Keaau, Konawaena, Hilo, and Kealakehe High Schools. The winning categories for Ka'ū FFA and the member names are:

Ka'ū  Future Farmers at last weekend's Pāhala Town Lighted
Christmas Parade. Photo from FFA

    1st place Vegetable Judging ⁃ Sherwin Agpaoa and Dreana Vierra-Mukini;

    1st place Chapter Records ⁃ Alajshae Barrios, Ezekiel Kaawa-Kamimura, and Vladimir Fedoruk;3rd place Plant ID ⁃ Desmond Camba and Vladimir Fedoruk;
    1st place Creed Speaking ⁃ Sherwin Agpaoa;
    2nd place Creed Speaking ⁃ Londyn Dacalio;
    3rd placed Creed Speaking ⁃ Lily Dacalio;
    1st place Floriculture ⁃ Zia Wroblewski, Delisa Breithaupt, Laci Ah Yee, and Shaylie Martinez.
    Ka'ū FFA sent out a statement giving a big mahalo to: "Kupuna Ke, Aunty Sophia Hanoa, and Aunty Kehau Kalani for helping with the floriculture event and Aunty Shanna Alcoran for helping with the floriculture, creed, and vegetable judging events." FFA also thanked, "Aunty Dorothy Louis, Mrs. Mary Ibarra, and Aunty Valerie Pakele for donating materials for our floriculture event."
    Ka'ū FFA plans to raise money to travel to the Hawai'i State Convention on Kaua'i at the end of February.
    Ka'ū FFA participated in the Pāhala Town Lighted Christmas Parade on Saturday night.

---- Story by Ka'ū High student, Alajshae Barrios, the Ka'ū FFA reporter.

Joanne Pocsidio is the soprano in A
 Carolers Quartet, performing Tuesday.

A CAROLERS QUARTET FREE HOLIDAY CONCERT will be held this Tuesday, Dec. 12 from 7 p.m.to 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The concert features the vocal stylings of soprano Joanne Pocsidio, alto Teresa Mondoy, tenor Ian McMillan and bass Doug Albertson of Big Island Singers, as they present a selection of holiday favorites. 
    The concert is part of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park's ongoing After Dark in the Park series. Program is co-sponsored by Friends of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Concert is free but park entrance fees apply.
     Note that the Ola Loa concert on same day is canceled.