The paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy/girl) culture has thrived in Hawaii for more than a century. With each passing year, greater knowledge of best management practices are used and shared to ensure ranching is done in a sustainable manner. Since HWMO’s inception, our organization has worked closely with various large and small ranches in Hawaii to assist them with fuels management expertise and funding for pre-suppression tools (helicopter dip tanks, lines to draw water closer to communities/sensitive natural areas). Our very own board president, Mark Thorne, Ph.D., is the grazing extension specialist for University of Hawaii College of Tropical and Human Resources (UH CTAHR).
On October 27-28, Mr. Thorne and other Hawaii rangeland specialists hosted a Fall Meeting and Technical Tour in Volcano for the Society for Range Management, a “professional scientific society and conservation organization whose members are concerned with studying, conserving, managing and sustaining the varied resources of the rangelands which comprise nearly half the land in the world.” Several presentations covered topics ranging from livestock as a fuels management tool, invasive species effects on island plant communities, and climate/socioeconomic relationships with fire. Dr. Clay Trauernicht spoke on behalf of the Pacific Fire Exchange and UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension to showcase his new research on climate change’s effects on fires in the Pacific. HWMO’s very own Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, shed light on the socioeconomic issues of wildfire in Hawaii and what HWMO is doing to alleviate them.
On the second day, Kapapala Ranch, a large ranch in Volcano, hosted a field tour through their beautiful pastures and native forests. Aside from morning rainbows, views of Kilauea crater, and clear skies, there was much to ponder and discuss in regards to proper range management in the unique climatic/topographical region that Kapapala Ranch is located in. Water storage and fire were just some of the many topics where lessons learned were shared across the regions. On the way out, a flat tire from old fencing on a dirt road made for a comical situation in which several participants, including Mr. Thorne, labored to remove the fencing remnants with all of their might as others cheered on. Just another day out in the field.
The general theme that kept emerging during the event: conservation and rangeland management can and must coexist if we are to solve our growing environmental issues across the islands (and around the world).
The event was dedicated to the life of Matt Stevenson, a beloved range professional we lost in 2016. His contributions to the field were tremendous. He will be missed.