After a long day of visiting schools across the leeward side of Maui to promote the Wildfire Lookout! campaign, HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, joined Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset members for a dinner at Royal Lahaina Resort on May 16. Fifteen Rotarians listened in as Pablo gave background on the wildfire situation in Hawaii. He then let the group know that there were concrete ways to get involved through the Firewise Communities and ReadySetGo! program. Pablo was able to speak afterwards with several real estate agents about possibilities for promoting good Firewise practices with potential buyers. Mahalo to Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset for being such great hosts (and for the hearty meal!)
Launiupoko, just south of Lahaina on Maui, had a busy fire season last year (even a couple fires burned within the subdivision for the first time). A group of residents responded by forming a Firewise Committee and taking the necessary steps towards Firewise certification. As of 2016, the community is now an official Firewise Community, the first in Western Maui.
This accomplishment was celebrated on May 15th at the home of one of the Firewise Committee members. HWMO’s Pablo Beimler was invited to join and to hold the floor for a speech. Committee members and their neighbors made up a group of 16 or so at the celebration. Pablo thanked the community for its hard work and reminded them that this was only the beginning of a long journey towards becoming a Fire Adapted Community, one in which ALL local stakeholders share responsibility in the wildfire solution. The community is off to a great start and although they are presented with some monumental challenges, they continue to be persistent and enthusiastic in their efforts. Truly inspiring.
Yes, even the Garden Isle has its fair share of wildfire issues — under the right conditions, anywhere, regardless of how “wet” they are can burn. This was one of the points Pablo Beimler, HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator, worked to get across on May 12 at Duke’s Canoe Club in Lihue. Twenty Rotarians from Rotary Club of Kauai tuned in as Pablo shared maps of Kauai’s wildfire history and stories from the Kokee Fire of 2012. He plugged the ReadySetGo!, Firewise Communities programs and encouraged attendees to participate in Wildfire Preparedness Month this May. We thank Rotary Club of Kauai for the hospitality and the complimentary meal provided by Duke’s. Also, it didn’t hurt to have a beautiful background and cool winds to the presentation (pictured in banner above).
As part of Wildfire Preparedness Month in May, several HWMO partners held volunteer events to raise awareness regarding wildfire impacts and readiness.
Oʻahu Army Natural Resources held an event on May 11. This from Celeste Hanley, Outreach Specialist for OANRP:
"Five volunteers hiked into the central Wai'anae mountains with the O'ahu Army Natural Resources Program to help control invasive weeds at Puali'i. Controlling grasses is critical to reducing the risk of fire to native Hawaiian forests, particularly in a dry forest habitat such as that within Puali'i gulch. The volunteers supported the effort to conserve endangered ko'oloa (Abutilon sandwicense) and important dry forest habitat containing lonomea (Sapindus sp.) through their weeding efforts."
Mahalo OANRP and its volunteers for participating in this year's Wildfire Preparedness Month!
For this year’s National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day, on May 6, HWMO thew a Beach Party to raise awareness on wildfires and their impacts on our lands, water, and communities. The Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness was held at the Old Kona Airport at the first beach pavilion. We had a number of fun classes, presentations, and activities for keiki.
Classes included two yoga classes, a morning session with Chelsea Morriss of Soul Happy Wellness, and an afternoon one with Rachel Forsberg. HWMO’s very own Melissa Kunz taught a swing dance class that kept the hype up in the morning. There was also a kids capoeira class held by Mario Hill from Capoeira Agua de Beber - UCA Hawaii. Most of the kids that participated were completely new to the Brazilian martial art / dance. Following the class, a group of capoeiristas from various parts of the island joined in for a capoeira and samba drum performance.
Several presentations were held in the pavilion that exposed visitors to different partners of HWMO that are doing amazing work to restore our native forests and protect our watersheds. Hawaii Island Seed Bank, Big Island Invasive Species Committee, and Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance shared about their organizations to audiences of various age levels. Those same organizations also set-up information booths, which attracted many visitors, as well.
A major highlight of the event was a press conference to launch the statewide wildfire campaign called Wildfire Lookout! Speakers included State Representative Cindy Evans and Chief Eric Moller of U.S. Army-Garrison, Fire & Emergency Services who both stressed the importance of fire prevention to protect our islands. Executive Director of HWMO, Elizabeth Pickett, also spoke to the visitors of the event on the importance of preparing far in advance of peak fire season. DLNR Senior Communications Director, Dan Dennison, flew from Oahu to film the press conference, as well as other activities at the start of the day. You can watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/216343233
HWMO’s crafty project assistant, Tom Loomis, set-up a few fun games for keiki including a mini golf course, home defensible space ring toss, and pachinko board to win HWMO prizes. Hawaii Fire Department brought a fire truck for kids to explore and Big Island Goat Dozers brought a goat for kids to pet.
A series of door prizes were also awarded throughout the day thanks to our list of generous sponsors: Foster’s Kitchen, Daylight Mind Coffee Company, Kona Haven Coffee, Capoeira Agua de Beber, Soul Happy Wellness, The Original Donkey Balls Store, and Hawaii Water Service Company.
A big mahalo to these sponsors as well as everyone else mentioned above who made the event possible, including our volunteers, staff, and board members!
“Did you know that 9 out of 10 wildfire are caused by people and could have been prevented? In fact, wildland fires consume hundreds of homes across the nation annually, and Hawaii is at a similar risk.”
As part of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day on May 6 (and a month of activities the rest of the month of May), DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and Hawaiʻi State Parks co-sponsored a volunteer event at Kaʻena State Park. Jaime Raduenzel of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii’s Oʻahu Cultural Resources Program and Dietra Myers-Tremblay of DLNR DOFAW gave presentations to enlighten volunteers about fire protection resources, wildfire readiness, invasive vegetation that fuels wildfires, and drought-tolerant Firewise plants. The volunteers also had the opportunity to take a tour of the site, “a sacred and fragile coastal dune ecosystem, home to many native coastal plants and animals that could not be found anywhere else in the world.” They then created defensible space around the perimeter of the new Kaʻena Point Baseyard and hiked out to a recent burn.
Organizers of the event thank Professor Mindy McDermott and her Chaminade University BI 110 People and Nature students for their huge showing at the event.
“I’m very excited about the future plans to restore areas of Ka'ena Point. Fun!” - Dawn Bruns, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
In order to inspire Waimea residents to action this Community Wildfire Prep Day, HWMO gave a presentation at the monthly Waimea Community Association meeting on May 4 at Waimea Middle School. Around 100 residents gave their full attention to HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, who promoted the upcoming Beach Party for Wildfire Awareness and Community Wildfire Prep Day in a flash presentation. We hope those in attendance will be able to share their wildfire readiness photos and stories using #WildfireReadyHI on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for a chance to win prizes.
U.S. Army-Garrison, Fire and Emergency Services (US-AG, FES) has been a long-time partner of HWMO and has assisted on many of the largest fires the state has seen, including the Mauna Kea Fire in 2010. On April 20th, in celebration of Earth Day, Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) played host to several conservation and technology partners, including HWMO.
Busloads of students from around the island were dropped off to explore the various exhibitions. HWMO was situated next to the Army firefighters and their trucks. Keiki had a blast using water hoses as target practice and dressed up in HWMO’s wildland fire gear to take home Polaroid photos of themselves in it. HWMO also shared about the importance of planting natives around homes, certainly a worthy project to tackle on Earth Day!
Firewise Communities is quickly taking the Kawaihae area by storm. Kohala-By-The-Sea, the longest running certified Firewise Community in the state, and one of the newest Firewise Communities, Honokoa, are both located in the arid Kawaihae region. Kohala Waterfront is the next community to step up to the plate. On April 19, as a major step towards certification, a couple residents from the gated community on the makai side of the highway (and directly across from Kohala-By-The-Sea) met with HWMO and HFD representatives to conduct a Firewise hazard assessment. They visited several homes to point out and document fire hazards and successful Firewise practices put in place. They also walked along a stretch of the Ala Kahakai Trail which runs adjacent to the makai side of the community. One of the main community-wide hazards they noted were overgrown kiawe trees adjacent to several homes. U.S. Forest Service, through HWMO’s administration, has granted the community $5,000 for a fuels reduction project, which HWMO recommended could be put towards kiawe limbing.
Twenty-seven members of a spiritual organization called Sukyo Mahikari gathered on April 9 to take part in a wildfire readiness workshop put on by HWMO. Held at the Sukyo Mahikari center based in Waikiki, Pablo Beimler, HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator and a member of the Sukyo Mahikari, felt at home as he shared about ReadySetGo!, Firewise Communities, and the upcoming Community Wildfire Preparedness Day events. Administrators from Sukyo Mahikari noted that it was the most well-attended emergency preparedness presentation they have had in recent years. Mahalo to Sukyo Mahikari for the opportunity and hospitality.