Every two to three years, Hawaii plays host to the California-Nevada-Hawaii Wildland Fire Conference. This year, the Garden Island of Kauai was the host of the conference that attracted fire experts from across the Hawaiian Islands and from California and Nevada. The three-day conference from April 12-15 at the Poipu Sheraton was a great way to share lessons learned from across the Pacific.
On the first day, Mayor Carvalho kicked off the proceedings with a rousing rendition of the U.S. National Anthem and Hawaii Ponoi. A number of speakers followed, touching on topics ranging from drought predictions (Derek Wroe, NWS) to local knowledge for effective fire management (Clay Trauernicht, University of Hawaii CTAHR) to native ecosystem restoration at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (Rhonda Loh, NPS). Our very own Elizabeth Pickett gave a talk on HWMO's recent statewide CWPP and public education efforts.
Representatives from the Wildland Fallen Firefighters Foundation gave a very moving talk to share about their amazing work to support firefighters and their families who are either recovering from injury or loss of life.
The second day of the Conference was a field tour organized by Pacific Fire Exchange's Clay Trauernicht and the newest member of the HWMO/PFX team, Melissa Kunz. Patrick Porter, District Forestry Manager for Kauai Division of Forestry and Wildlife, helped lead the caravan up to Kokee, otherwise known as Waimea Canyon.
A group of a couple dozen conference attendees stopped at various view points and the site of the large 1,000+ acre fire that scorched a eucalyptus forest a few years ago. DOFAW is taking advantage of this post-fire moment to plant rows upon rows of koa trees for sustainable harvest moving into the future. This unique project will give forest managers an idea of the feasibility of post-fire conversion of previously non-native forest into a native forest for the purpose of sustainable harvest.
On the final day of the conference, Dan Dennison of DLNR spoke about the media's role in Fire Incident Management and touted the Wildfire & Drought Look Out! campaign set to be released by HWMO and its many statewide partners this month. Each County Fire Department also gave updates. The general message from each one: the number of wildfires this year in Hawaii are set to surpass last year's numbers by a significant margin.
We want to thank our partners from DOFAW and the CNH Forest Fire Council for letting us share our recent efforts and to thank Pacific Fire Exchange for a great, informative field tour!
Stay tuned for a video of the field tour on our YouTube page!