Partner Meetings

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.

 

 

Firewise Workshop 2018 in Boise

HWMO had the honor on October 31 to share about its Firewise Communities successes (and challenges) at the national Firewise Workshop hosted by the National Fire Protection Association in Boise, Idaho. Community Outreach Coordinator for HWMO, Pablo Beimler, presented on the importance of laying the foundations for community-wide grassroots and sustained actions towards becoming a Firewise Community. This requires building autonomy, pride, inspiration, and enthusiasm in community members, along with agency and governmental support.

 View of Boise from the foothills near the city.

View of Boise from the foothills near the city.

Hawaii was well-represented at the workshop that was held at the Grove Hotel. Representatives from Honolulu Fire Department and DLNR Division of Forestry were there with HWMO, thanks to funding support NFPA. We were informed about updates relating to Firewise and joined interesting group discussions regarding the future of wildfire risk reduction work in the U.S.

As an added bonus, with our friends from HFD and DOFAW, we took part in a two-day training on assessing the Home Ignition Zone (HIZ). The training was taught by two extremely knowledgeable wildland fire experts: Jack Cohen, who many consider being a father of modern wildfire mitigation theory and practices, and Pat Durland, who has 30 years of experience as a wildland firefighter and mitigation specialist. Together, they gave engaging lessons on fire ecology and science, the sociology behind assessing homes, and more. On the final day of the training, we hopped on the bus with the other training participants, who hailed from across the U.S., and practiced assessing home ignition zones in a local Firewise Community. 

 Trainees practicing their new home ignition zone assessment skills at a home in a local Firewise Community.

Trainees practicing their new home ignition zone assessment skills at a home in a local Firewise Community.

 Jack Cohen (right) provides insight regarding home ignition hazards around a practice home.

Jack Cohen (right) provides insight regarding home ignition hazards around a practice home.

Big thanks to NFPA for inviting and flying us to Boise to share about our efforts and learn from experts in the field!

Firewise Workshop 2018 in Boise

Kauaʻi Annual Brush Fire Mitigation Meeting 2017

 Each year, KFD invited first response partners and other stakeholders for a brush fire mitigation meeting. This from the 2016 meeting.

Each year, KFD invited first response partners and other stakeholders for a brush fire mitigation meeting. This from the 2016 meeting.

Every year, Kauai Fire Department hosts first response partners and other stakeholders on Kauaʻi for a Kauaʻi Brush Fire Mitigation Meeting. This year’s took place on May 22nd at the KFD headquarters in Lihue. HWMO’s Elizabeth Pickett gave updates on HWMO’s work in the area as our first response partners and large landowners and contractors listened in. In total, forty people were in attendance, each taking home a Ready Set Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide and Wildfire Lookout! flyer. We hope for a quiet fire season for Kauai Fire Department and our other friends on Kauaʻi. Another day, another great outreach opportunity for HWMO’s Wildfire Preparedness Month— this time thanks to KFD!

Hawaii Drought Committee Meeting 2017

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It has been another year of intense drought for leeward areas on Hawaiʻi Island. Twenty-five people representing various agencies met in Waimea on May 16 to hear updates on the current drought conditions from NOAA National Weather Service and share updates relating to drought with each other. HWMO was in attendance and we shared about some of the wildfire activity and hazards this year, but also projects we are working on in order to reduce the fire threat, including Wildfire Lookout! We also let people know that it was Wildfire Preparedness Month, encouraging agency representatives to share wildfire readiness information with their networks.

Oʻahu Climate Adaptation Workshop

 Wildfire was a major topic of discussion throughout the climate adaptation workshop.

Wildfire was a major topic of discussion throughout the climate adaptation workshop.

Climate change has enormous impacts on the Hawaiian Islands, and brushfire activity and it’s impacts are no exception. We have thousands upon thousands of residents and visitors at risk along the wildland-urban interface and as conditions continue to favor more brushfires and development continues to expand, more and more people will be at risk. HWMO sent Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, to Oʻahu to share these concerns at the Oʻahu Climate Adaptation Workshop on April 24 and 25.

The workshop was put on by Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative (PICCC), “a self-directed conservation alliance made up of local, state, federal, indigenous, and NGO member organizations from the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands” and EcoAdapt, “a non-profit organization that provides assistance throughout the entire climate adaptation process.” The two-day workshop was a great opportunity to not only share about how climate change impacts Hawaii’s wildfire situation, but also to discuss options for mitigating impacts, as well as connecting with others on Oʻahu interested in reducing those impacts. 

Oahu Climate Adaptation Workshop 4/23-4/24/17

Guam Pacific Island Forestry Professionals Workshop

HWMO, through U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grant funding, is entering an exciting phase for our organization and its partners in Guam and Yap. On April 3-7, HWMO Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, collaborated with Guam Forestry and USFS professionals doing work on Yap to lead a half-day workshop on community-based wildfire ignition management. The workshop, entitled Wildfire Prevention and Mitigation Strategies and Opportunities for a Pacific Islands, was well-attended, signs of good things to come for our collaborative work in the Western Pacific.

 Giving a workshop on community-based wildfire ignition management in Guam.

Giving a workshop on community-based wildfire ignition management in Guam.

 Beautiful artwork demonstrating need for partnership in Pacific.

Beautiful artwork demonstrating need for partnership in Pacific.

Guam PIFP Workshop 4/3/17

Aina-Based Education Systems Mapping Workshop

Posting and discussing input on challenges and opportunities of ʻaina-based education in Hawaii.

Across Hawaii, more and more emphasis is moving towards ʻāina-based education (environmental education, learning systems rooted in the land, etc.). However, there are many challenges that ʻāina-based educators face (as well as opportunities for these alternative education systems to blossom).

On October 26 in Waimea, Hauʻoli Mau Loa Foundation invited several groups working in the ʻāina-based education world on the Big Island to provide a workshop space to better understand those challenges and opportunities. Pablo Beimler represented HWMO at the meeting and gave his input coming from the wildfire education perspective. The participants shared their experiences with one another through a novel input collection process that will be presented as a “systems map” in 2017. 

Aina-Based Education Systems Mapping Workshop

Waikoloa Fire Management Action Committee First Meeting

Presenting the new Fire Management Action Committee along with Board President Amy Swan (third from left) and GM Roger Wehrsig (third from right).

The Waikoloa Village Association recently took a major leap in sustaining wildfire preparedness actions by creating an official Fire Management Action Committee. Our dear friend and HWMO Fundraising Committee, Mark Gordon, stepped into the role of chairperson and recruited three other residents to be a part of the committee: Wayne Awai, Beverly Brand, and Dave Faucette. Each member will bring a unique toolset and knowledge of the area to the table.

On August 25th, the committee met for the first time at the Waikoloa Village Association conference room. HWMO’s Pablo Beimler joined the committee, as well as Board President Amy Swan and WVA General Manager Roger Wehrsig, for a discussion on the Firewise Communities Recognition Program. The group decided to work with HWMO to achieve Firewise certification for 2016, scheduling a community hazard assessment for mid-September as a next step.

Big mahalo to Ms. Swan, Mr. Wehrsig, and the entire Fire Management Action Committee for inviting us to be a part of the discussion and continuing a long-standing partnership between HWMO and the Waikoloa Village Association.