PFX Events

PFX/HWMO Palehua Wildfire Mitigation Strategies Workshop and Field Tour

Opening circle and prayer to begin the day.

Opening circle and prayer to begin the day.

Pacific Fire Exchange (PFX) and HWMO linked up on July 17 to hold an exciting day of fun and learning in Palehua, just mauka of Makakilo on Oʻahu. PFX’s Clay Trauernicht, Melissa Kunz, and Elizabeth Pickett spent several weeks planning this wildfire mitigation strategies workshop that led into a field tour as a follow-up to a workshop they put on at the PICCC conference several months ago. HMMO’s Pablo Beimler also joined the workshop as a helping hand. The Palehua workshop was tied into the Hawaiʻi Conservation Conference as a pre-conference event that interested conservationists could attend. Thirty or so people from various agencies and organizations including National Park Service, Honolulu Fire Department, Fed Fire, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and University of Hawaiʻi joined the event. 

The day kicked off with a workshop at Palehua Camp, formerly Camp Timberline, amongst tall trees and with scenic views of the Ewa area below. Clay Trauernicht gave a brief presentation on fire science using data he was synthesizing from the HWMO fire history database. Some interesting new factoids included:

* 75% of fires in Hawaiʻi are accidental

* 75% of fires in Hawaiʻi occur under drought conditions

* Over 80% of areas burned in Hawaiʻi are grassland/shrubland areas

Clay also shared about values at risk and their vulnerabilities. He adapted an equation he learned from a recent climate adaptation workshop, to fit into the fire science framework:

Vulnerability = exposure (fire hazards) + resource sensitivity (sensitivity to fire) — adaptive capacity (wildfire mitigation)

Elizabeth followed Clay’s presentation by highlighting various mitigation strategies. With these presentations in mind, the participants broke into groups for a computer-based activity. The groups picked a “designated mouse driver” and dug into the wildfire hazards and values at risk in Palehua using Google Earth. Once they determined areas of concern and the hazards that threatened those areas, they determined mitigation strategies they could apply to the area to reduce the fire hazard. They then shared their findings with the rest of the workshop participants. Anu and McD, two men who knew Palehua on the back of their hands, blessed us with examples of mitigation strategies they had actually implemented or planned to implement in the area. 

Breaking out into groups to discuss wildfire mitigation strategies for Palehua.

Breaking out into groups to discuss wildfire mitigation strategies for Palehua.

Scanning through Google Earth to determine areas of concern and wildfire hazards in Palehua.

Scanning through Google Earth to determine areas of concern and wildfire hazards in Palehua.

The workshop then shifted into a field tour as participants hopped into vans for the afternoon. The first stop was an overlook area where one could see where the 2014 Makakilo fire started and took off. The fire was an intense one that killed over 200 wiliwili trees and charred several homes. Mikiʻala Akiona, Public Education Specialist for Honolulu Fire Department, noted how difficult the fire was to suppress due to the many hot spots and restarts that occurred. The group then stopped towards the top of Palehua at a ranch-style building called Hokuloa, which had been used as a staging area and command center for large fires. Participants learned about the importance of having the right fittings for water tanks (as well as the need for suction hoses) and for creating fuelbreaks horizontal to the slope. Throughout this discussion, the participants had a spectacular view of central Oʻahu, which became increasingly obscured by a large rain cloud headed their way. 

Looking out over the area where the Makakilo 2014 fire started.

Looking out over the area where the Makakilo 2014 fire started.

Group photo in front of Nānakuli backdrop.

Group photo in front of Nānakuli backdrop.

Rain cloud headed towards the group while looking towards Kunia.

Rain cloud headed towards the group while looking towards Kunia.

Back of Nānakuli Valley where remnant native forests still exist.

Back of Nānakuli Valley where remnant native forests still exist.

The group then traveled up to a cabin for views of the north side of Palehua, where the discussion turned its focus toward the 2016 Nānakuli Fire that threatened homes and resources such as communication towers. The final stop added a little bit of adventure to the day. The participants hiked up to the top of Mauna Kapu through bamboo forests, stopping for a chant led by Anu before reaching the sacred peak. Once atop the mauna, Gary Gill, a large landowner in the area, gave background on how special the place they were surrounded by was. The area used to have one of the highest concentrations of native tree snails, but the population had been steadily declining within the last couple of years. There were several populations of different varieties of native birds still calling the area their home. Previous fires had burned ʻiliahi forests in the back of Nānakuli Valley, but about half of them had recovered, although they were much more stunted in growth than before. 

The workshop and field tour was a memorable one for us all and we hope that the valuable lessons and conversations that took place were of value for all of the participants. Mahalo to all who came out for a special day in Palehua.  

PFX-HWMO Wildfire Mitigation Strategies Workshop and Field Tour of Palehua 7/17/17

PRiMO Wildland Fire Risk Mitigation Strategies Workshop

Breakout groups discussed strategies they would use to mitigate wildfire issues during a simulation exercise.

Breakout groups discussed strategies they would use to mitigate wildfire issues during a simulation exercise.

HWMO and PFX collaborated to offer a half-day workshop at the PRIMO conference on March 20 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, Oahu.  The workshop was entitled Wildland Fire Risk Mitigation Strategies for Pacific Islands and included an overview of strategies, tools, and resources for assessing risk and determining priority areas for wildfire protection activities.

PRiMO Wildland Fire Risk Mitigation Strategies Workshop 3/20/17

PFX Field Tour of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa

Starting the field tour in a circle at the baseyard at the foot of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa

Pacific Fire Exchange (PFX) continued to ramp up its ongoing effort to connect researchers and managers with a field tour of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa on Saturday, February 25. DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) played host to over 35 participants, many of whom were involved in the conservation field in Hawaiʻi, including HWMO representatives, but even some who were just curious to learn more about the preserve and native dryland forests. The PFX Field Tour was a follow-up to the Nāhelehele Dry Forest Symposium, which was held the day before in Kailua-Kona. 

Leila Dudley, DOFAW, with Hualalai in the background, shares moʻolelo about Puʻu Waʻawaʻa and its surrounding areas.

The tour kicked off at the Puʻu Waʻawaʻa Baseyard where hundreds of new native plant keiki were housed. After exploring the nursery, the group caravanned up to the Puʻu Waʻawaʻa Cinder Cone summit for a spectacular view of Hualālai, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and the lands and ocean below it. Although the vog was particularly thick that day, we could still make out the outlines of the breathtaking giants that loomed over the cinder cone. Leilā Dudley, who works at the preserve with DOFAW, told an animated moʻolelo (history, tradition) about the connections between the place names and the people tied to them in North Kona. Clay Trauernicht, Co-Coordinator of PFX, shed light on the importance of understanding these stories in order to discuss proper management of these lands and the motivations behind the restoration and preservation of them. Puʻu Waʻawaʻa is the most diverse forest in Hawaiʻi and there are endless reasons for protecting and restoring the area. Wildfire has been a major driver of change for Puʻu Waʻawaʻa, and thus, the theme of the day was how to manage the landscape to keep wildfires at bay.

Clay Trauernicht (right) and Chris Wada (second from right) share economic analyses in front of a koa restoration plot. 

At the next stop, the Waihou Exclosure, Elliott Parsons, DOFAW, gave background on the large koa restoration plot in the upper reaches of the forest preserve. Chris Wada, University of Hawaiʻi, entered the conversation with an economic analyses on the prioritization of areas for restoration in order to reduce landscape flammability and restore groundwater recharge. Lunch soon followed at the cool and misty Forest Bird Sanctuary (indeed, the chorus of bird songs was a highlight). HWMO’s Pablo Beimler shared a brief history of the organization’s work in the area — Puʻu Waʻawaʻa and its wildfire issues helped spur the creation of HWMO in the early 2000’s. Much of the lessons we had learned in Puʻu Waʻawaʻa are what we continue to carry with us as we expand our work statewide and into the Western Pacific.

Field tour participants awestruck by the thriving native forest at Kīpuka Oweowe.

After lunch, the group stopped at the 25 Mile Marker Road overlook to talk about valuation of landscapes and elevation gradients. We stopped midway down the final stretch of road to the highway to examine a stand of lama trees, Hawaiian persimmons that are endemic to Hawaiʻi. The plot the group stopped to look at was overgrown with dense and flammable grasses and shrubs, as well as invasive silver oaks. To contrast this plot, DOFAW led us to the final stop at the Kīpuka Oweowe dry forest restoration site. There, the tour participants gathered and then wandered off to explore the many native dryland plant delights. Careful and persistent management of fire fuels (mostly fountain grass) on the aʻaʻ lava flow, along with hours upon hours of volunteer help, has led to a thriving native forest reflective of what once covered the North Kona landscape. As we sampled the lama berries, honed in on uhiuhi flowers, and inquired about native rare plants we had never seen before, we were reminded of just how beautiful Hawaii’s native forests were and why we must continue to bring all stakeholders to the table to ensure the forests that do remain (or are being restored) are protected from wildfire. 

A big mahalo to Melissa Kunz and Clay Trauernicht and to the forest preserve staff of DOFAW for an incredible and worthwhile tour. We are sure the others in the group agree!

PFX Field Tour of Puʻu Waʻawaʻa 2/25/17

PFX Kahikinui Field Tour

When it comes to solving our most complex issues, it truly takes a village and the coming together of a myriad of backgrounds and expertise. 

PFX FIeld Tour begins at lookout on the eastern makai side of Kahikinui.

On August 29th, over 40 representatives from a number of organizations and stakeholder groups joined a field tour of Kahikinui on the southern slopes of Hāleakala. Organized by our partners from Pacific Fire Exchange and Leeward Hāleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, the group caravanned to various sites to view the post-fire landscape that resulted from the February 2016 wildfire. The fire not only burned through native preserves and cultural sites, but also came dangerously close to homes. A few of the homesteaders of Kahikinui spoke during the field tour to share their experiences of the 2016 fire (and other fires that have given the community a scare). 

Firefighters share their experiences fighting fires in Kahikinui. Attendees listen in as they survey the land from the mauka edge of the fire. Photo Credit: Clay Trauernicht/PFX

Throughout the field tour, there were great open discussions regarding topics from grazing for fuels reduction to increasing water access and availability to fuelbreak creation with erosion control in mind. Mahalo to Clay Trauernicht and Melissa Kunz of Pacific Fire Exchange for their great facilitation of these discussions. Big shoutout also to Andrea Buckman and the LHWRP crew for bringing in much of the stakeholder and community groups. And of course, a big mahalo to Kahikinui homesteaders who were so gracious enough to have such a large group tour their community. Also mahalo to the groups who were represented at the field tour: Auwahi Wind, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Hāleakala Ranch, KOOK, Aha Moku O Kaupō, Kaupō Ranch, KGLMO, Mauʻi County Council Don Couch, Mauʻi County Fire, Find Us 911, Mauʻi County Office of Economic Development, West Mauʻi Mountains Watershed Partnership and UH College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources.

Pablo Beimler (HWMO) shares Firewise Communities updates with the group. Photo credit: Chris Brosius, West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership

HWMO is working with Kahikinui community members to help their homestead become one of the first nationally-recognized Firewise Communities on Mauʻi, along with Waiohuli and Launiupoko. In fact, the field tour counted towards their Firewise Event requirement - they are well on their way to 2016 certification!

PFX Kahikinui Field Tour 8/29/16

CNH Wildland Fire Conference & PFX Field Tour to Kokee

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. 

Elizabeth Pickett, HWMO, shares information on Community Wildfire Protection Plan update for Kauai.

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.

Elizabeth Pickett shares copies of community input from CWPP meetings.

Field tour attendees soak in the beauty of 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. 

Kauai Division of Forestry and Wildlife plan to have slash piles hauled out for biomass.

New koa plantings will replace a formerly non-native forest, taking advantage of a large, destructive wildfire that wiped out acres of eucalyptus.

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!

CNH Wildland Fire Conference 2016 and PFX Field Tour to Kokee

Hawaii Conservation Conference Wildfire Forum - 2014

As the wildfire issue continues to grow in Hawaii, PFX has taken another step to help raise the awareness level and grow the network by holding a Wildfire Forum on July 15th at the Hawaii Conservation Conference in Waikiki. PFX invited an eclectic group of speakers to provide perspectives ranging from the science, management, and community fields. The forum was meant to embody the spirit of the Cohesive Strategy: improved wildfire response, promotion of resilient landscapes, and fire adapted communities. The forum titled: Perspectives on Hawaii's Wildfire Problem - from Science and Management to Community Action, was moderated by PFX Co-Coordinator and UH Cooperative Extension Wildfire Specialist Dr. Clay Trauernicht who started the event with new data supporting the claim that wildfires are a growing concern in all of Hawai'i. Maps and data compiled by Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) and analyzed by Dr. Trauernicht showed an increase in wildfire incidents over the past decade, incidents that occur almost entirely near roads and communities. 

Following Dr. Trauernicht's introduction to the topic, Wayne Ching, long-standing Fire Management Officer for Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) kicked off a series of brief presentations. Mr. Ching, representing years of first responder knowledge, gave background on DOFAW's fire management program. He explained: "We're not a full-time firefighting agency. We're like a militia…" To address the need for support, DOFAW had relied heavily on its commitment to partners to help prevent mitigate, and suppress wildfires. A reduction in budgets, though a challenge, said Mr. Ching, had opened up new opportunities, including partnering with the U.S. Forest Service to expand its programs and suppression capabilities.

Adding to the suppression perspective, Chief Terry Seelig stepped up to the podium representing the Fire Prevention Bureau of the Honolulu Fire Department. Chief Seelig stressed the importance of partnership in order to strengthen fire suppression capabilities, a concern addressed by the formation of the Oahu Wildfire Information and Education Group (OWIE). OWIE was formed to share information amongst agencies and coordinate communication of such information to communities. Chief Seelig promoted the need to connect with communities by using "common nomenclature" to help communities understand wildfire issues and clarify the role and expectations of government agencies in fire emergencies. Suppression agencies, he explained, already had their hands tied due to a large amount of ignitions that were all due to human carelessness, recklessness, or a lot of times, maliciousness. Fortunately, no lives had been lost in a wildfire in Hawaii. "We fortunately haven't had that type of situation - don't wanna say lucky, because luck is something you can't count on. We try to count on planning, preparedness, and prevention."

Rhonda Loh, Chief of Natural Resources Management for the National Park Service at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HAVO) phased into land management perspectives on the wildfire issue. Within all parks, the number and size of fires had increased over the years, most notably in HAVO where lava and lightning ignitions added to human ignitions. With over 50 federally listed plants and animals, fire management at the parks had proven a challenge but also an opportunity to explore new strategies for land management. Park Service personnel had conducted research burns in a variety of different regions of Volcanoes National Park to customize strategies that they could then mold to each area. 

On the science side of the forum, Creighton Litton, Associate Professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) presented a collaborative research project that explored an often-overlooked ecosystem in the conservation field: nonnative grasslands of the Pacific Islands. Critical gaps and research needs existed in both fire ecology and wildfire prediction in these novel ecosystems. Now twenty-five percent of Hawaii's land area, nonnative grasslands in Hawaii had built up to unprecedented average fuel loads, "over twice as much as other grasslands around the world," Dr. Litton exclaimed. As climate change would only exacerbate wildfire conditions, the need for fire-resistant restoration through innovative and collaborative efforts would continue to grow.

Rounding out the presentation portion of the program, Pablo Beimler spoke on behalf of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) as the Education and Outreach Coordinator and representing the community aspect of the wildfire issue. Mr. Beimler highlighted HWMO's spearheading of Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) on Hawaii Island and just recently, Western Maui. CWPPs brought together "firefighters, land managers, and community members to discuss wildfire-related concerns and to make a prioritized action plan for all involved, explained Mr. Beimler. "The reason that collaborative, collective action is needed to deal with wildfires is because wildfire impacts span boundaries and across jurisdictions." HWMO recently received funding to complete 6 more CWPPs on Hawaii Island, Maui County, and Oahu in the next two years, opening up new federal funding opportunities for communities concerned with wildfire. 

A short panel discussion with the presenters concluded the forum with audience members bringing-up questions on a variety of different wildfire topics. Panel members shared their expertise in what was a unique make-up of individuals, each with their own perspectives but aligned in their efforts to understand, prevent, and mitigate wildfires in Hawaii.

Banner photo: Panelists from left to right - Dr. Creighton Litton, Wayne Ching, Rhonda Loh, Chief Terry Seelig, Pablo Beimler (not pictured).

Earth & Ocean Festival - 2014

HWMO and PFX hit the road for the Earth & Ocean Festival, which took place this year at the Makaeo Pavilion within the Old Kona Airport Park. The outreach event drew large crowds of people, many of whom stopped by the HWMO/PFX booth (over 120) to find out more about wildfires in Hawaii. Visitors of all ages payed close attention as Pablo Beimler, Education and Outreach Coordinator of HWMO and Coordination Assistant of PFX, explained Hawaii's wildfire issues and what HWMO and PFX are doing to address and mitigate those issues. Beimler handed out over 50 of the new Ready, Set, Go Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guides among other HWMO products. He also distributed a couple dozen of PFX's first Fact Sheets about Wildfire in Hawaii, authored by Clay Trauernicht (Co-coordinator of PFX and Wildfire Extension Specialist at UH Manoa, CTAHR). The keiki came to the booth in droves until there weren't any more Smokey magnets, frisbees, and bag clips to give out. 

Banner photo: Pablo Beimler hands out Smokey stickers and bookmarks to enthusiastic keiki.

California-Nevada-Hawaii Forest Fire Council Training & Seminar - 2014

The Big Island's Waikoloa Beach Marriott played host to this year's California - Nevada - Hawaii Forest Fire Council Training and Seminar (April 9-11), drawing attendees from all over the three listed states and from the Pacific Islands. HWMO and PFX teamed up to set up a booth to disseminate information about Hawaii's wildfire issues and what's being done to mitigate them - as a highlight, PFX's first Fact Sheet was rolled out at the event: Wildfire in Hawaii (link). Day One kept the audience captivated with a variety of informative and exciting talks spanning the world over.  Attendees were informed about the latest Australian bushfires (Richard Woods), East Bay Regional Park District's WUI projects (Brad Gallup), Maui Fire Department's IMT3 activities (Henry Lindo, Jr.), and the International ICS program operating in Indonesia, Vietnam, and a variety of other countries (Rusty Witwer). Paul Steensland and Alan Carlson brought the attendees along an exciting two-hour long ride through a twenty-year investigation and hunt for the Rumsey Canyon Serial Arsonist. Preceding these great presentations, Wayne Ching, Division of Forestry and Wildlife's long-standing and soon-to-retire Fire Management Officer, as well as organizer of this year's event, was honored by those in attendance. DOFAW's Protection Foresters from each main island, Patrick Porter (Kauai), Jay Hatayama (Hawaii Island), Ryan Peralta (Oahu), and Lance De Silva (Maui) led a few morning toasts to Wayne and his remarkable career. To cap off the tribute, all attendees simultaneously revealed red shirts with a picture of Mr. Ching and a list of major incidents he had worked on in his career, either wearing or waving the shirt in a sort of Red Shirt Salute. Here's HWMO's video capturing the moment:

Day Two took members out of their seats and into the outdoors for a field tour. Following a beautiful hike along the Ala Kahakai Trail along Anaeho'omalu Bay, members caravanned over to Puako to visit the community's fuelbreak, which HWMO provided funding and assistance. Peter Hackstedde, Puako Community Association President and a new addition to the HWMO Board of Directors spoke about the fuelbreak efforts, with Elizabeth Pickett, Executive Director of HWMO and Co-Coordinator of PFX, chiming in. The group then took a driving tour through the entirety of the fuelbreak, which runs three miles and borders the entire Puako community, providing a buffer of at least 60-100 feet between houses and the mesquite (kiawe) forest. For the second time since PFX's first field tour in June 25, 2013, Wayne Ching decided to replicate the experience and discussion of the Mauna Kea 33 Fire at the physical location of the fire at Mauna Kea State Park, which threatened the last remaining population of Palila, who number less than 2000, only a few miles away. Special guests Miles Nakahara, retired HWMO President and retired DOFAW Wildlife Biologist, Eric Moller, USAG-P, FES Deputy Fire Chief, Glen Timbal, USAG-P, FES Assistant Fire Chief, Susan Cordell, US Forest Service PSW-IPIF Research Ecologist, and Mr. Hatayama joined Mr. Ching to highlight the first-hand experiences of fighting the fire. The group discussed fire boundaries, initial and extended attack details, incident command, mop-up, results of the After Action Review, suppression challenges and successes and the post-fire impacts of the fire. The discussion concluded with the ramifications on future fire and resource management for this area and its included and nearby critical habitat. Chief Moller added a nice plug for PFX, "It really does develop a concerted effort. For one, it protects my firefighters because we now have a better understanding of what's going on, but it also helps the community and the managers, set their lands up so that they're not fire-prone. It is a win-win-win all the way around," said Chief Moller. Ms. Cordell and Mr. Nakahara agreed with Chief Moller and recognizing PFX's efforts. Audio from the field tour can be heard on the left hand column.

The final day of the event kept the excitement rolling with an engaging and impactful lineup. Two of the most important events of the history of wildfire within the last decade made their way into the lineup - both events occurred in 2013. John Truett gave a moving and harrowing review of the Yarnell Hill Fire which claimed the lives of 19 firefighters in Arizona last year. Mr. Truett reviewed the chain of events that led to the fatality, as well as the incredibly challenging orchestration of the ceremonies thereafter. We will never know the full stories, since those were lost with those who had fallen, but the talk gave a clearer picture of the day's tumultuous proceedings. The room fell respectfully silent after the presentation ended with an emotional video honoring the 19. Following a presentation about emergency preparedness at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (David Benitez), Incident Commander Jerry McGowan gave an insightful and entertaining presentation reporting the details of the 3rd largest fire in California's history, the Rim Fire, and the unprecedented conditions that firefighters were up against, as well as how the incident was managed given a multi-agency, multi-state response.   
HWMO and PFX had the honor to share a presentation before these speakers. Ms. Pickett gave background on HWMO and the many projects it's currently involved in throughout the state, including Hazard Assessments, Community Wildfire Protection Plans, and fuels management projects. Clay Trauernicht, PFX Co-Coordinator and UH Manoa CTAHR Wildfire Extension Specialist, took over the reins to present the latest Hawaii wildfire history data and analyses. To present this information within the context we were in was certainly a highlight for HWMO and PFX. "Definitely the heaviest line-up of speakers I've ever had the honor to share a podium with. It's a truly inspirational group of folks involved with fire across the western region," exclaimed Mr. Trauernicht. Video of the presentation can be seen here in a 2-part YouTube series:

Banner photo: Elizabeth Pickett, HWMO Executive Director, gives a presentation on the final day of an impressive line-up of speakers.

Western State Fire Managers Meeting - Puako Community Fuelbreak Tour

Based on great feedback from a collaborative lessons learned PFX Field Tour held on June 25, 2013 at Mauna Kea State Park on Hawaii Island to review a 2011 fire that exhibited extreme behavior and threatened human lives and critical habitat, Wayne Ching of Hawaii Department of Land Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife Fire decided to replicate the experience and discussion with Western State Fire Managers at their March meeting. 

The tour continued over to the Puako Community Fuelbreak where Peter Hackstedde, Puako Community Association President and a new addition to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization Board of Directors spoke about the fuelbreak efforts. Elizabeth Pickett, Executive Director of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, chimed in about HWMO's funding and assistance of the project. She also detailed the HWMO and PFX organizations as a whole and their strong partnership with one another. In addition, Elizabeth presented the newly created and delivered Ready, Set, Go! Hawaii Wildland Fire Action Guides and handed out copies to all of the managers, along with Overview Packets for HWMO and PFX. The group then took a driving tour through most of the fuelbreak, which runs 3 miles and borders along the entire Puako community, providing a buffer of at least 60-100 feet between houses and the mesquite (kiawe) forest.

Banner photo: Peter Hackstedde (white T-shirt) speaks to the group (including Wayne Ching of DOFAW, in blue polo) behind an aerial panorama of the Puako Community Fuelbreak.

Hawaii Community College (HCC) Career & Job Fair - 2014

HWMO and PFX spent the day in Hilo at the Hawaii Community College reaching out to the academic community about our wildfire efforts and the opportunities that exist in the wildfire and conservation realms. We were delighted to interact with a demographic that we aren't always able to target: college-aged students. Visitors were excited to learn about Hawaii's wildfire issues and what HWMO and PFX are doing to mitigate them. Many were interested in what job opportunities exist not just for HWMO and PFX, but in the wildfire and conservation world, as well. Interested students ranged from Agricultural Studies to Environmental Sciences to Fire Science. We also made valuable connections with UH faculty and staff members and Kamehameha Schools Career Academy, who were interested in partnering with HWMO and PFX to create job and internship opportunities for their students, and the Department of Health who was interested in connecting with HWMO for a Hawaii-specific Ready, Set, Go! workshop tour.

Banner photo: Multitude of HWMO and PFX materials on display and for distribution.