Kohala Waterfront Firewise Wildfire Prep Day 2018

Kohala Waterfront became one of eleven nationally-recognized Firewise Communities in Hawaii after a group of community members came together to spread awareness around wildfires and reduced wildfire risks in the neighborhood. Each year, a Firewise Community has to put in an equivalent of $24.14 per dwelling unit and complete at least one outreach event or work day. Over a dozen Kohala Waterfront community members came out to remove flammable vegetation along the border of their community (on the highway side where ignitions are the highest) to celebrate national Community Wildfire Preparedness Day. They pruned trees and hauled green waste to a dumpster they rented using grant money awarded by State Farm through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

 Resident volunteers and Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws get ready to prune a tree to reduce ladder fuels. Credit: Marla Herman.

Resident volunteers and Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws get ready to prune a tree to reduce ladder fuels. Credit: Marla Herman.

 Cesar Gellido trains a resident on saw use and safety. Check out the progress they made!

Cesar Gellido trains a resident on saw use and safety. Check out the progress they made!

 Firefighters from Hawaii Fire Department give encouragement and thanks to community members who were hard at work all morning for Community Wildfire Preparedness Day.

Firefighters from Hawaii Fire Department give encouragement and thanks to community members who were hard at work all morning for Community Wildfire Preparedness Day.

 Mahalo (left to right) Tom Welle of NFPA, Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws, and Emily Troisi of FAC Learning Network, for coming out to support Kohala Waterfront's efforts!

Mahalo (left to right) Tom Welle of NFPA, Cesar Gellido of Saws & Slaws, and Emily Troisi of FAC Learning Network, for coming out to support Kohala Waterfront's efforts!

The volunteers also had help from one of the speakers of the Hawaii Wildfire Summit who was visiting from Colorado and representing a community organization called Saws & Slaws. Cesar Gellido, who coordinates the community group that trains residents in Colorado on chainsaw use and safety for the purpose of flammable vegetation removal, generously put in the time and effort to prune trees in the community and train some volunteers on saw safety. HWMO's Community Outreach Coordinator and statewide Firewise coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, linked up with Hawaii Wildfire Summit speakers Emily Troisi, from Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, and Tom Welle, from NFPA to visit the community work day and offer encouragement and thanks for the volunteers' efforts. As a pleasant surprise to the community members, a couple Hawaii Fire Department engines stopped by the event. Firefighters from HFD shook hands with the community members and offered their encouragement and thanks, as well. 

 Keep up the great work, Kohala Waterfront! Credit: Marla Herman.

Keep up the great work, Kohala Waterfront! Credit: Marla Herman.

Kohala Waterfront Firewise Wildfire Prep Day 5/5/18

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018

Over the years, HWMO has come to understand that wildfire-related challenges are faced by a wide array of professionals and citizens, including more than just those focused on emergency response. HWMO, through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, held the first ever Hawaii Wildfire Summit between April 30 and May 4 at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows to bring together not just fire professionals, but people working in riparian and marine conservation, cultural resource protection, the visitor industry, planning professionals, and community groups from across Hawaii, the Western Pacific, and the rest of the U.S.
 

Pre-Summit: NFPA Assessing Structural Ignition Potential for Wildfire Course

The first two days were dedicated to the NFPA course on Assessing Structural Ignition Potential from Wildfire. Participants included firefighters, land managers, and homeowners who learned the ins and outs of fire and its interaction with the built environment. Wildland fire expert, Pat Durland, who traveled from the mainland to teach the course, also shared valuable information on the latest research for improving the survivability of a home during a wildfire.

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - NFPA ASIP Training
Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Lei Making Party 5/1/18


Summit Main Event

The main event began on Wednesday, May 2, kicking off two days packed with presentations and workshops from over 40 speakers, including our two keynote speakers, Gloria Edwards of Southern Rockies Fire Science Network and Dr. Steve Quarles of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. A wealth of knowledge was shared throughout the summit by these speakers with the diverse audience. Speakers highlighted lessons learned, best practices and innovations in wildfire protection. Check out the list of speakers and their bios by clicking the buttons below.

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Summit Day 1 5/2/18
Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Summit Day 2 5/3/18

HWMO emphasized the importance of using creativity and outside-the-box thinking to get out of our comfort zones, a point that keynote speaker Gloria Edwards so eloquently urged in her presentation. To spur creativity and collaborative dialogue, HWMO encouraged participants to take part in several activities during the breaks and the first evening's meet-and-greet:

* A collaborative Summit to Sea art project
* A collaborative ideas sharing space
* Casting ballots for a statewide youth wildfire prevention bookmark contest. Submissions were from students at Kamaile Academy in Waianae and Kohala and Waikoloa Schools on Hawaii Island. 

 

Smokin' Word


To cap off the event and to further encourage participants to use their creativity and get out of their comfort zones, we held a "Smokin' Word" open mic. Various brave volunteers, from local fire chiefs to representatives from national programs, gave spoken word performances about "why we do what we do, what we are aiming to protect, and to ignite applause and laughter." We were extremely pleased to see our colleagues dig into their creative space and shake off some nerves to share their great pieces. Professional spoken word artist (and HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator), Pablo Akira Beimler, rounded out the open mic with a performance of his poem in tribute to the summit and all of the inspiring work happening by the people in the room to make Hawaii a better, safer place to live. 

We also had a great turnout of Firewise Community members from Hawaii Island and Maui-- almost all Firewise Communities in Hawaii were represented! Firewise committee members Lisa Chu-Thielbar (Kanehoa), Gordon Firestein (Launiupoko), and Diane Makaala Kanealii (Honokoa) presented lessons learned and background about their Firewise efforts during the general session on the 2nd day. We had a Firewise gathering at the end of the 2nd day where participants played "get to know you bingo" to frantically and comically break the ice. From this point onward, HWMO is committed to forming a statewide peer learning network between all of the Firewise Communities. 

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Post-Summit Activities

 


Field Workshop


On the final day of the summit, a large group of the summit attendees hopped aboard vehicles to caravan around the South Kohala area to visualize much of what was discussed indoors at the Mauna Lani. The Pacific Fire Exchange field workshop began at the Upper Waikoloa Road Intersection to ground the participants in a sense of place and seeing a landscape-level view of the summit-to-sea watersheds of South Kohala. Then, it was on to Wai Ulaula Waimea Nature Park, where participants learned about watershed planning and about the local native forest. The following stop helped participants understand the wildfire threat that threatens the native forests and the subsequent post-fire flooding that has vastly impacted Hawaii's shorelines. What better place to talk about wildfire than in Kawaihae, where the 2014 wildfire burned thousands of acres and threatened many homes, burned millions of dollars of timber, and post-fire flooding shut down businesses and impacted the livelihoods of local residents. Representatives from Hawaii County Fire Department and National Park Service shared their lessons learned from responding to the massive fire. 

After lunch with a beautiful view of the South Kohala Coastline and a jolt from an earthquake in Kilauea, the group walked to the Puu Kohola Heiau visitor center to learn the history of the sacred site. The group then walked along a trail to learn more about the conditions that are ripe for wildfire in Kawaihae. They continued walking down to Pelekane Bay, the site of intense post-fire runoff and coral reef decay. 

The field workshop ended in Puako where Peter Hackstedde shared about the community's efforts to create a large fuelbreak behind homes and their recent Firewise Community recognition efforts. Paniau was the final stop and a nice place to wrap-up the summit to sea discussion. Some workshop participants stayed for a snorkel tour of the reef. 

Great job, Melissa Kunz, on coordinating such a smooth, exciting, and informative field workshop!

Hawaii Wildfire Summit 2018 - Field Workshop 5/4/18


Here is a thank you letter from our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, to the summit participants:

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Youth Prevent Wildfire Bookmark Contest 2018

 Participants of the Hawaii Wildfire Summit voted on their favorite bookmarks based on three categories.

Participants of the Hawaii Wildfire Summit voted on their favorite bookmarks based on three categories.

As part of a way to celebrate the upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit and Wildfire Preparedness Day, HWMO met with middle school students from several schools and youth programs and had them participate in a youth "Prevent Wildfire" bookmark contest. Students represented Kamaile Academy, Kohala Middle and High School, Waikoloa Middle School, and the Malama Kai Foundation Ocean Warriors program. The artwork they produced conveyed several messages that they could choose from:

"Prevent wildfires to protect our ocean"
"Prevent wildfires to protect our forests"
"Prevent wildfires to protect our communities"

 Students from Kamaile Academy in Waianae created their bookmarks during an HWMO school visit earlier in 2018.

Students from Kamaile Academy in Waianae created their bookmarks during an HWMO school visit earlier in 2018.

 Ocean Warriors hard at work designing their creative prevent wildfire bookmarks.

Ocean Warriors hard at work designing their creative prevent wildfire bookmarks.

23 of the bookmark entries were selected by the HWMO staff to be voted on at the Hawaii Wildfire Summit on May 2 and 3. 

We are excited to announce the winners of the contest as determined by the many participants who took the time and thought to cast their ballots at the summit. 

 

Bookmark Contest Winners.jpg

Congratulations to our winners and mahalo to all of the youth participants in this year's art contest. Special thanks to Jameil Saez, STEM teacher at Kamaile Academy, and Elizabeth Pickett of the Malama Kai Foundation Ocean Warriors program.

2018 CTAHR Agriculture and Environmental Awareness Fair

 Hundreds of keiki visited the many outreach booths, including HWMO's, at this year's event.

Hundreds of keiki visited the many outreach booths, including HWMO's, at this year's event.

We traveled to Oahu to talk to over 500 students about wildfire and its impacts on our watersheds, ocean, and critical protein source (fish) due to post-fire erosion and runoff. On February 9, the keiki came from various schools in Central Oahu to the Pearl City Urban Garden Center as part of University of Hawaii CTAHR’s Agriculture and Environmental Awareness weekend. We had so much fun being around such engaged and enthusiastic youth — they were also quite knowledgable, as well. Even within a short 5-minute span with each class, the students learned a lot about how wildfire impacts our watersheds and they were able to connect the dots right away. They also quickly pointed out that the best way to cut off this cycle was to stop it at the source: to prevent wildfires!

Mahalo UH CTAHR for inviting us to join this year!

CTAHR Agriculture and Environmental Awareness Fair 2/9/2018

Nanawale Estates ReadySetGo! Workshop and Firewise Intro

 The Nanawale Estates community members who came to the workshop are willing and ready to help the community become a Firewise site.

The Nanawale Estates community members who came to the workshop are willing and ready to help the community become a Firewise site.

We started the week by working on recruiting a potential new Firewise Community in Puna on the Big Island (which would be the first on the east side). Proactive Nanawale residents and HOA staff joined us for a wildfire preparedness workshop on February 5 at the Nanawale Longhouse. We guided the workshop attendees through the Ready, Set, Go! program and encouraged them to pursue looking into becoming a nationally-recognized Firewise Community. Following the presentation, we walked over to a nearby home to practice assessing a home ignition zone for wildfire hazards (the best way to learn is out in the field!)

During the workshop, we held an input session to hear about the wildfire-related concerns of community members. Some key concerns included albizia control, lack of ingress/egress, and lack of continuous support from legislators. We then discussed possible solutions that could help address these issues. Nanawale is no stranger to environmental hazards. In 2014, the Pahoa lava flow threatened the community and the recent Hurricane Iselle proved very damaging to the community, which was largely out of power for several weeks. The community may not have gotten the federal aid and even local government support they had hoped for, but they took matters in their own hands anyways by supporting each other. This is a key function of a Firewise Community that is fire-adapted to its surroundings: building community resilience for the long-run is most impactful and effective when the whole community comes together.  

Nanawale Estates ReadySetGo! Workshop and Firewise Intro 2/5/2018

Collaborative Vegetation Management Mapping Workshop 1 - Mauna Kea Partners

 Mauna Kea partners were busy at work mapping fuels management projects on Google MyMaps.

Mauna Kea partners were busy at work mapping fuels management projects on Google MyMaps.

Across the state, there are many vegetation management projects that are helping to reduce the fire threat around natural/cultural resources and near communities. However, there currently isn’t a way to track all of these projects and the desired areas for future management of flammable vegetation. Stemming from an idea communicated to us from an HWMO Technical Advisor and US Fish and Wildlife partner, Dawn Bruns, we have received US Forest Service funding to create a statewide database and map of vegetation management projects. 

 Meeting participants worked in groups to map their fuels management projects.

Meeting participants worked in groups to map their fuels management projects.

We held our first workshop with our partners from the Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance (MKWA) and Three Mountains Alliance (TMA) on January 30 at the Hawaii Innovation Center in Hilo. Elizabeth Pickett, HWMO Executive Director, started the workshop off with an introduction to the project, emphasizing how important this project will be for future collaborative fuels management projects. Dr. Clay Trauernicht, Wildfire Extension Specialist of University of Hawaiii CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Co-Coordinator of the Pacific Fire Exchange, gave a brief course on fire science and pre-fire planning and management. Pablo Akira Beimler, HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator, followed with a training on Google MyMaps, which was the main platform we used to collect data from meeting participants. 

 Cheyenne Perry, Coordinator of Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance, points out areas where he hopes there can be collaborative vegetation management projects on Mauna Kea.

Cheyenne Perry, Coordinator of Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance, points out areas where he hopes there can be collaborative vegetation management projects on Mauna Kea.

For the rest of the workshop, meeting participants began mapping their current and desired vegetation management projects on Google MyMaps. Once the projects were mapped, we projected the new data onto a screen and had the groups share about their work areas and what they envision for a more fire-safe Mauna Kea. 

HWMO will be spending the rest of the summer holding workshops across the islands. If you would like to participate, please contact admin@hawaiiwildfire.org. 

Special mahalo to MKWA Coordinator, Cheyenne Perry, and TMA Coordinator, Colleen Cole, for being our first workshop partners. Mahalo also to Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project and U.S. Army-Garrison for joining our workshop and being our workshop “guinea pigs”!

Collaborative Vegetation Management Mapping Workshop in Hilo with MKWA and TMA 1/30/2018

South Kohala Conservation Action Plan - Climate Action Planning Workshop

Climate change is a serious threat that is already having a major impact in Hawaii, and there are no signs that the threats and impacts will go away. In fact, an overwhelming percentage of scientists predict they will worsen. The Nature Conservancy (TNC), NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCOOS), and South Kohala Coastal Partnership (SKCP) invited various partners who are stewards of South Kohala to discuss climate change threats, impacts, and solutions for 3 days at Anna’s Ranch in Waimea from January 23-25. Using climate change as a framework to update the South Kohala Conservation Action Plan, an effort that started in 2010, the workshop pinpointed six major climate threats that could have a big impact for South Kohala’s coastal and marine resources. 

 Teams discuss their rationales behind ranking certain threats higher than others.

Teams discuss their rationales behind ranking certain threats higher than others.

 On the last day, teams shared their climate action ideas including coastal policy changes and reforestation strategies.

On the last day, teams shared their climate action ideas including coastal policy changes and reforestation strategies.

What are those major threats?

Warming of ocean temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification, reduced rainfall, increased storms, and…you guessed it, more frequent and damaging wildfires. HWMO was invited to speak on the first day to talk about the mauka to makai effects of wildfire: fires in South Kohala have notoriously led to large erosion / flooding events (check out our video on the Kawaihae Fire and Floods for more information). Post-fire sediment that is carried out to the ocean can be detrimental to coral reefs and all who live off of them, including fish and us humans. 

 View of Kohala Mountain and the watersheds that connect the vulnerable forests with the sensitive coastlines.

View of Kohala Mountain and the watersheds that connect the vulnerable forests with the sensitive coastlines.

 Chad Wiggins of TNC points out mauka to makai connections, while we look out from the ocean towards the coast.

Chad Wiggins of TNC points out mauka to makai connections, while we look out from the ocean towards the coast.

Due to increasing conditions that are ripe for more frequent and severe wildfires in South Kohala, including warmer temperatures, decreasing annual rainfall, and increasing consecutive dry days, we could be in for more destructive land based pollution events that destroy reefs. This goes hand in hand with the scientific predictions of increased storms in Hawaii, which, after a wildfire, can make matters a whole lot worse for erosion and sedimentation and thus for our coastal and marine ecosystems. Check out our infographic on climate change’s impacts on wildfire for more information.

On the 2nd day of the workshop, we were part of a “mauka” breakout group where we ranked the threats of fire, storms, and reduced rainfall as contributors of coastal and marine impacts. Fire repeatedly came up as a major threat that needed to be addressed seriously in South Kohala. 

In order to think BIG about action planning for South Kohala, workshop attendees were invited to join in on an afternoon of sailing from Kawaihae Harbor to Puako. The sailboat was graciously donated by Maile Charters for the purpose of building stronger connections between the various agencies and organizations involved with SKCP and to look at the connectedness of South Kohala from the vantage point of being on the water. As an added bonus, whales and dolphins frequently visited the boat and we were able to swim around Puako’s reefs to experience the beautiful coral and marine life that are critical to the health of our ecosystems and communities. Before an epic sunset, HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, performed spoken word about the Hokulea’s important message that we need to work together as one “Island Earth” and work with Mother Nature rather than against her.

 Setting sails for an adventure experienced by various SKCP partners.

Setting sails for an adventure experienced by various SKCP partners.

 Sunsets and whales an added bonus.

Sunsets and whales an added bonus.

The final day of the workshop revolved around finding solutions. Breakout groups developed actions that could improve coastal health and reduce climate threats. Pablo shared HWMO’s vision of having communities be buffered by native and Firewise living fuelbreaks, which would also help bring communities together. Better water management and increased water resources was also a key discussion and was ranked very high by the entire group as an important next step for South Kohala. In another smaller breakout group, TNC’s Chad Wiggins, Hawaii State Parks’ Dena Sedar, and Pablo brainstormed ideas to reforest South Kohala (ranked highly as an important next step) with the intention of reducing wildfire threats, increasing watershed health, and improving community engagement, livelihoods, and employment/career opportunities.

 The planning area and what is at stake. Working together is the only path forward to build climate resilience.

The planning area and what is at stake. Working together is the only path forward to build climate resilience.

After three days with so many enthusiastic, positive, intelligent, and conservation-minded folks, we feel more determined to continue the important work we are doing to make South Kohala a more vibrant area, even in the face of worrying climate predictions. We are more resilient when we work together and that is a major reason why the South Kohala Coastal Partnership exists and is taking on this climate action planning process. We are extremely grateful for being a part of this partnership and look forward to collaborate with all involved to ensure our coastal areas, cultural resources, landscapes, and communities are safe from or adapted to climate impacts such as wildfire.

Thank you to The Nature Conservancy, NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, and South Kohala Coastal Partnership for inviting us to be a part of this monumental effort!

South Kohala CAP Climate Action Planning Workshop 1/23-25/18

FAC Net Webinar on Sustained Community Wildfire Engagement

HWMO is a proud affiliate member of the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network where members from across the nation share their lessons learned from moving communities towards greater resilience to wildfires. On January 11, HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, facilitated a panel discussion on a network-wide webinar. The panel topic was on “Sustained Community Wildfire Engagement.” HWMO and three other speaks from across the U.S. shared what has and hasn’t worked for them in terms of motivating communities towards self-sustaining wildfire risk reduction. Community engagement and self-reliance in wildfire protection can lift a remarkable weight off of agency and non-governmental groups. It takes everyone to create fire-adapted communities. 

Check out the panel discussion videos below, which were recorded and posted on YouTube by our partners from FAC Net. 

Major mahalo to FAC Net for the opportunity to lead this discussion and to our friends from FireWise of Southwest Colorado, Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, and Project Wildfire (in Oregon) for sharing their expertise. 

Pablo Beimler from Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization talks about the role of fire in Hawaii and shares some of HWMO's successful community engagement efforts.
Charlie Landsman from Firewise of Southwest Colorado talks about their Firewise Ambassadors program and how they keep sustainable community engagement throughout Southwest Colorado.
Crystal Beckman from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation presents about some of their community wildfire engagement efforts. Crystal's talk includes information about how they work with their adult education partners to host community lecture series as well as some other community resources they have available.
Alison Green of Project Wildfire in Deschutes County, OR talks about their successful 20-year-old Firefree program as well as other community engagement efforts.

 

 

Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove Firewise Hazard Assessment

The Firewise Communities movement is spreading to Oahu! Over the last two years, HWMO has assisted 10 communities in becoming nationally-recognized Firewise Communities. There are now 11 official communities in Hawaii, part of a network of over 1,400 across the U.S. Those 11 communities are located on Hawaii Island and Maui. That is soon to change as proactive residents and community organizations from Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove are taking the necessary steps towards making their beloved community in Hawaii Kai a Firewise Community. 

 Private landowners, contractors, farmers, legislators, community groups, government agencies...we are truly seeing a Firewise Community in the making where all stakeholders play an important role. 

Private landowners, contractors, farmers, legislators, community groups, government agencies...we are truly seeing a Firewise Community in the making where all stakeholders play an important role. 

This year has been a particularly stressful one for Kamilonui Valley Farm Lots and Mariner’s Cove residents. Over a dozen suspicious fire starts, a few that grew into larger fires, had burned close to the community in the first half of 2017. Since then, the community has been charged to take action. HWMO linked with Livable Hawaii Kai Hui and Senator Stanley Chang’s Office to organize a community-wide Firewise hazard assessment on November 27. Together with representatives from DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board, Royal Contracting, and Kamilonui Farm Lots, the working group walked and drove around the community to examine common wildfire hazards and areas for potential wildfire risk reduction projects. 

The assessment team first convened at the Mariner’s Cove Bay Club to map out an itinerary for the day, determine priority community areas to examine on the field assessment, and establish boundaries for the Firewise Community designation. Following the meeting, the team walked along an access road off of Hawaii Kai Drive, visited Pahua Heiau, and caravanned to the end of Kamilonui Place to examine the wildland area in the back of the valley. Along with these priority areas, the team also visited a home to conduct a “Home Ignition Zone” assessment to gain a better idea of the wildfire hazards at the individual lot level and pull locally-relevant examples of best practices for creating defensible space and fire-proofing structures.

 The assessment team examining fuels, or flammable vegetation, along the wildland border of Kamilonui-Mariner's Cove.

The assessment team examining fuels, or flammable vegetation, along the wildland border of Kamilonui-Mariner's Cove.

 Hearing from a resident about her wildfire hazard concerns.

Hearing from a resident about her wildfire hazard concerns.

Once HWMO completes a written report of the hazard assessment, they will present their findings to the working group and the larger community in February 2018. The working group will take recommendations provided in the report into consideration when they develop an action plan for wildfire risk reduction activities in their community.

We thank all of the partners who joined us for the hazard assessment and are excited for what’s to come in 2018 for Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove!

Kamilonui-Mariner's Cove Firewise Community Hazard Assessment 11/27/17

Kanehoa Firewise Native Plant Workshop

Kanehoa, a subdivision halfway between Kawaihae and Waimea on Hawaii Island, was the second community in Hawaii to become a nationally-recognized Firewise Community. Since 2015, they have contributed hundreds of volunteer hours and linked with HWMO for a couple of $5,000 grants to remove flammable vegetation from along internal roadsides. As part of the next step in their action plan, they hope to plant more native vegetation along common areas and around their own homes. 

 2016 Firewise Day: Kanehoa residents took fuels reduction into their own hands with a $500 grant from State Farm and $5,000 grant from HWMO to remove haole koa from roadsides. Here is a before...

2016 Firewise Day: Kanehoa residents took fuels reduction into their own hands with a $500 grant from State Farm and $5,000 grant from HWMO to remove haole koa from roadsides. Here is a before...

 ...and after.

...and after.

Native dryland plants can be an added defense for your home, though like with any plants, site location and what you plant matters greatly for fire safety reasons. On November 4th, Kanehoa Firewise Committee members invited HWMO to join them for a Firewise Native Plant Workshop. Fifteen community members listened in as guest speaker Jill Wagner of Hawaii Island Seed Bank talked story about the importance of restoring native plants in our own communities. The area between Puu Waa Waa to Kohala Mountain on the leeward side was one of the most biodiverse areas in Hawaii, she shared. Years of drought, invasive species and disease stress, overgrazing, climate change, and wildfire have contributed to the demise of the native forests, which act as important watersheds. We have seen some success in recent years towards preserving and restoring these native forests with the emergence of strong conservation partnerships and efforts, better grazing practices targeted towards conservation and wildfire risk reduction, and wildfire protection projects that span the South Kohala area. However, there is still a lot to be done and we can all play a large role even around our own homes. 

Ms. Wagner brought in a few native plants of her own for Kanehoa residents to pass around and get to know better. She enlightened us on ground covers such as iliee, akia, pohinahina and pau o hiiaka; shrubs such as aalii, aweoweo, and alahee; and trees such as mamane, lama, ohe makai, and wiliwili. If these names are unfamiliar to you or you would like to learn more, click on the links below.