Oahu: Honolulu

Hawaii State Capitol Legislative Outreach

Senator Keith-Agaran with HWMO staff during the office visits on February 20.

Senator Keith-Agaran with HWMO staff during the office visits on February 20.

Legislators are an important player in advancing wildfire protection funding and support. HWMO spent a full day at the Hawaii State Capitol on February 20 knocking on doors and visiting with various legislators and their aides to stress the importance of funding proactive wildfire projects with a busy fire year ahead. The timeliness of these visits was critical since HWMO has submitted a State Grant-In-Aid application to fund wildfire prevention and preparedness activities, including the Wildfire LOOKOUT! campaign.

Mahalo Representative David Tarnas, Senator Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, Senator Dru Kanuha, and Representative Stacelynn K.M. Eli for meeting with us in person.

Oahu Vegetative Fuels Management Mapping Workshops with DOFAW and WMWP

Mapping in action!

Mapping in action!

As a hub of wildfire protection efforts across the Hawaiian Islands, we are always looking for ways to bring people together to solve some of our most complex wicked problems. The Hawaiian Islands have been struggling with invasive species spread for decades, but now we are seeing what happens when invasive flammable plants take over the landscape and allow fires to spread more quickly and over larger areas. By controlling or managing flammable vegetation at the landscape-level, we can make great strides towards reducing the wildfire risk on our islands.

That’s why HWMO is coordinating a statewide vegetative fuels management mapping project — a rapid assessment to understand the vegetation management needs and priorities of landowners and land managers throughout the Hawaiian Islands. DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife and University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension are key partners in the effort.

The vision for the project is that the resulting maps will lead to 1) better prioritization and communication of vegetative fuels management on the landscape-scale and 2) enhance project coordination between organizations and funding opportunities.

On September 25, we joined up with DOFAW and Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership (WMWP) for back-to-back workshops to map current and desired vegetation management activities on Oahu. Activities could include any vegetation reduction or conversion projects such as roadside mowing, fuelbreaks, grazing rotations, clearing around structures or power poles, brush abatement or thinning, tree trimming, loi restoration, agriculture, and native forest restoration. The workshop took place at the DOFAW Makiki office at the foot of the beautiful Makiki Valley.

Oahu DLNR and WMWP Vegetative Fuels Management Mapping Worshops 9/25/18

Wildfire Presentation with Aloha Arborist Association

Aloha Arborist Association meeting took place at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Honolulu.

Aloha Arborist Association meeting took place at the Old Spaghetti Factory in Honolulu.

Landscapers and arborists can play a unique role in a Fire Adapted Community — they are the ones that can put fuels reduction practices to action at a large scale. That is why HWMO connected with the Aloha Arborist Association to discuss future partnership opportunities. At the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Honolulu, HWMO’s Pablo Beimler presented to a small group of AAA members on May 17th. It was especially timely since May was Wildfire Preparedness Month. Pablo shared background on wildfires and their impacts in Hawaii and introduced members to programs such as Ready, Set, Go!, Firewise, and Wildfire Lookout! that highlight defensible space practices and standards. We thank AAA for the opportunity to speak to the group and look forward to collaborating in the near future.

Hawaiʻi Environmental Court Workshop

Judge Larry Potter stresses the importance of building community collaboration to solve our environmental issues.

Judge Larry Potter stresses the importance of building community collaboration to solve our environmental issues.

You might first be asking, what is the Hawaiʻi Environmental Court? Hawaii has once again taking another major step in leading the country in environmental protection by forming the court as a way to “ensure the fair, consistent, and effective resolution of cases involving the environment,” as quoted by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. The court is only the second in the nation, behind Vermont’s, which implemented theirs in 1990. 

On April 25, Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful, a chapter of Keep America Beautiful, worked with their partners to hold a Hawaiʻi Environmental Court Workshop for the City and County of Honolulu. The workshop was focuses on “Debris, Illegal Dumping and Community Environment Enforcement.” The keynote speaker was Judge Larry Potter from Shelby County Tennessee, who is a legend in the environmental law field. HWMO had the honor of speaking at this event that hosted fifty people, many of whom were students at the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law. HWMO’s Pablo Beimler made the connection, during his presentation, between illegal green waste dumping and vehicular abandonment to added wildfire risk on the islands. We thank Keep the Hawaiian Islands Beautiful for the opportunity to share during this special occasion. 

Hawaii Environmental Court Workshop 4/25/17

Ready Set Go! Workshop with Sukyo Mahikari Oahu

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. 

Ready Set Go! Workshop with Sukyo Mahikari Oahu 4/9/17

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

March Wildfire Readiness Tour - Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island

As peak wildfire season approaches, HWMO is committed to reach out to as many people as possible statewide about wildfire readiness. With stacks of Ready, Set, Go! guides, Firewise plant bookmarks, Wildfire Prep Day info, and Firewise Communities brochures on hand, Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, traveled to various parts of Oʻahu and Maui to present wildfire readiness information. From March 7 to March 9, Pablo visited Rotary Clubs of Diamond Head/Kaimuki, Kahala Sunrise, West Pearl Harbor, and Wailuku. In total, 57 Rotarians were reached out to, some of whom have followed up with HWMO about possible partnerships in the future. 

Pablo Beimler promoted Wildfire Prep Day at each presentation. (Photo Credit: Rotary Club of Diamond Head/Kaimuki)

Pablo Beimler promoted Wildfire Prep Day at each presentation. (Photo Credit: Rotary Club of Diamond Head/Kaimuki)

Pablo Beimler with Rotary Club of Diamond Head/Kaimuki President Carie Sarver. (Photo Credit: Rotary Club of Diamond Head/Kaimuki)

Pablo Beimler with Rotary Club of Diamond Head/Kaimuki President Carie Sarver. (Photo Credit: Rotary Club of Diamond Head/Kaimuki)

On March 14 at Tutu’s House in Waimea, with a small group in attendance, Pablo gave a more in-depth Ready, Set, Go! wildfire readiness workshop. A couple Puʻu Kapu residents were intrigued by the presentation and were inspired to bring information back to the community and generate support for Firewise Community certification. On the last day of the tour, March 15, Pablo gave a presentation about Ready, Set, Go!, Firewise Communities, and Wildfire Prep Day to over 30 members of the Waiʻanae Coast Disaster Readiness Team (including keiki) (banner photo). As a result of the talk, several members were interested in linking up with HWMO and the local Waiʻanae Library to start a Firewise demo garden around the library perimeter. 

Mahalo to all who invited us to speak and who listened in. We hope we have given you enough tools to take action in your community right away!

HEEA Symposium

Environmental education, according to the U.S. EPA, is “a process that allows individuals to explore environmental issues, engage in problem solving, and take action to improve the environment. As a result, individuals develop a deeper understanding of environmental issues and have the skills to make informed and responsible decisions.”

HWMO's information booth was a hub for wildfire curricula information.

HWMO takes pride in the environmental education programs we share statewide, placing heavy emphasis on the “take action” part of the above definition. We hope through our educational programs that people are moved to action to become wildfire ready. 

Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator for HWMO, flew to Oahu for the Hawaii Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA) Symposium on July 13th at the Hawaii Pacific University downtown campus at Aloha Tower in Honolulu. The symposium was a gathering place for environmental educators from across the islands to share lessons learned, support innovative teaching methods, and create new networks.

Presentation topics of interest included:

* Branding for Good: Lessons learned on branding as a non-profit, especially relevant for our organization.

* ARTSEED - A Honolulu Museum of Art program that integrates art and science in a real world context. Students’ artwork were featured in the new editions of the Oahu Botanical Field Guide.

HWMO poster board.

* MECO - Engaging with Local Government - A presentation by Kuhea Asiu who shared best practices for getting involved in the political process and how to “infiltrate” to increase environmental action.

* Inquiry-Based Field Science - HWMO’s former Planning Assistant, Ilene Grossman, shared about her new efforts of bringing science to the hands of keiki and the community. 

* Waimea’s own Seri Niimi-Burch shared success stories of Foodcorps from across the islands.

An environmental educator stops by to pick up Native Firewise Plant bookmarks.

Pablo held an informational booth with a poster board displaying the diverse environmental education methods HWMO uses to promote awareness and catalyze action among Hawaii residents and youth. He made great connections throughout the day and shared HWMO’s curricula with various educators. 

HEEA Symposium 7/13/16

Oahu Wildfire Information and Education (OWIE) Meeting - January 2016

OWIE representatives discuss coordinated inter-agency El Niño wildfire prevention and preparedness messaging.

Between 2005 and 2011, Oahu had an average of around 600 wildfires annually, according to new research co-published by HWMO, UH CTAHR, U.S. Forest Service, and CEMML.

This figure might see a major jump this year with the strengthening of El Niño and the intensifying of a drought to go along with it.

Pablo Beimler met with Oahu Wildfire Information and Education (OWIE) group members on January 26th at the Federal Fire Department Headquarters in Pearl Harbor to discuss an outreach campaign to get the word out there about the drought and preventing/preparing for the potential uptick in wildfires. Representatives from Honolulu Fire Department, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension, NOAA National Weather Service, Federal Fire Department - Navy, and U.S. Army-Garrison were present at the meeting. 

Hot dog, Sparky, rearing up for a busy wildfire period.

Derek Wroe, of NOAA NWS, gave an update on the El Niño outlook, which does not look good for Hawaii. This El Niño, which will go down as on the top 3 worst on record, has already significantly impacted the leeward and windward sides of Oahu. In December, there was less than 30% of normal rainfall in most areas, with January looking even worse. We'd be lucky to have a solid rainfall event for the rest of the winter!

With spring break on the way, fire activity could be on the rise.

OWIE members had an excellent discussion on ideas for reaching out to the public - plenty of exciting news to share once event details come to fruition and can be publicized. 

OWIE Oahu Media Event

National Weather Service rep talks about chance of active wildfire season with press.

We had the privilege of speaking to multiple media sources including KHON, KITV, Hawaii News Now, and Honolulu Star Advertiser at a media event on May 27th organized by our partners from Honolulu Fire Department. Representatives from HFD, Honolulu Police Department, DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, National Weather Service, UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension, and Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization worked together to stress the importance of wildfire prevention and taking necessary steps to protect the home and family from fire.

It has already been a busy wildfire season for Oahu, with 4 brush fires burning last Saturday alone (one of which threatened homes near Makakilo). 

Featuring Kaleo the Pueo at our media outreach booth.

Wildfire season is year round in Hawaii, but this is peak season and it looks like it will be a long, active one. 

Kaleo the Pueo is helping us get the word across, especially to our youth, about the importance of wildfire prevention and preparedness. We were able to showcase Kaleo to the media at an information booth at the event.

Check out the media's coverage of the event here: