HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, and University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension’s Wildfire Specialist, Dr. Clay Trauernicht presented a full morning of information on wildfire and climate change in Hawaii to West Oahu school teachers. West Oahu is an epicenter of wildfire activity, so we were very grateful for the opportunity to share information on Ready, Set, Go!, Firewise Communities, and Wildfire LOOKOUT! We even had the teachers do a round of “Fire Tag” to then teach to students — the game is a great way to learn about how fire has destroyed native forests and created Hawaiian savannas. Mahalo Malama Learning Center for inviting us and Kapolei High School for hosting us!
Fire follows fuel. On February 19 at the Mililani District Park, we convened a large group of 33 people on Oahu representing a patchwork of different agencies, groups, and organizations across a variety of fields to come together to plan for collaborative, large-scale vegetation management to reduce wildfire risks throughout the island. This was part of a series of workshops on Oahu, Kauai, and Hawaii Island we held in February on this matter (we had a similar meeting on Maui in 2018).
During the workshop, participants:
Checked out the results of recent efforts to map current management of hazardous vegetative fuels (thanks to all of the information that partners contributed).
Identified and discussed shared regional fuels management priorities to mitigate the risks of wildfire across our island landscapes through a facilitated series of small and large group conversations.
The knowledge and priorities of the participants will contribute to planning next steps in the ongoing collaboration to manage vegetative fuels to reduce wildfire and protect our communities and natural resources.
We are all in this together and it takes all of us!
Stay tuned via our website, social media, and e-newsletter (sign up at the bottom of this page) for final project-related products before this summer.
Mahalo DOFAW, UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension / Pacific Fire Exchange for co-organizing with us.
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.
HWMO’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler, met with Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership on June 26 in Palehua on the leeward slopes of the Waianae Mountains in West Oahu. Pablo presented and introduced to the group the vegetative fuels management mapping project HWMO was coordinating to improve landscape-level prioritization, collaboration, and funding capabilities of fuels management. HWMO will be working with the partnership to hold a workshop in the coming months to gather data for the project.
Banner photo: Conservation managers, members of the Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership, assess damages to the native forest preserve areas after the Nanakuli Fire in 2016. Photo credit: Dr. Clay Trauernicht, UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension
HWMO’s Pablo Akira Beimler traveled to Waianae to set up an outreach table at the Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Fair. The event was organized by the Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Team who is doing incredible work in the community to better prepare Waianae residents for emergencies. At the Waianae Mall event on June 2, we handed out ReadySetGo! wildland fire action guides, Firewise Communities information, keiki swag, and more.
On June 1, 2018, HWMO met with representatives from DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Honolulu Fire Department, Sea Country Community Association, and Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Team, along with residents from Sea Country to conduct a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment of the Sea Country subdivision in Maili in West Oahu. Together, the group caravanned to several areas in the community to gain a vantage point of the intersection between wildland and urban areas. Along with these priority areas, the team also visited several representative homes to conduct a “Home Ignition Zone” assessment to better comprehend the wildfire hazards at the individual lot level and identify locally-relevant examples of best practices for creating defensible space and fire-proofing structures.
The community of Sea Country is at a high risk for wildfires due to its high winds, history of nearby human-caused ignitions, location on the wildland-urban interface, and prevalence of fire-prone vegetation. By conducting the assessment, Sea Country will be one step closer to becoming a Firewise Community.
As part of a way to celebrate the upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit and Wildfire Preparedness Day, HWMO met with middle school students from several schools and youth programs and had them participate in a youth "Prevent Wildfire" bookmark contest. Students represented Kamaile Academy, Kohala Middle and High School, Waikoloa Middle School, and the Malama Kai Foundation Ocean Warriors program. The artwork they produced conveyed several messages that they could choose from:
"Prevent wildfires to protect our ocean"
"Prevent wildfires to protect our forests"
"Prevent wildfires to protect our communities"
23 of the bookmark entries were selected by the HWMO staff to be voted on at the Hawaii Wildfire Summit on May 2 and 3.
We are excited to announce the winners of the contest as determined by the many participants who took the time and thought to cast their ballots at the summit.
Congratulations to our winners and mahalo to all of the youth participants in this year's art contest. Special thanks to Jameil Saez, STEM teacher at Kamaile Academy, and Elizabeth Pickett of the Malama Kai Foundation Ocean Warriors program.
On February 22 and 23 in Kaneohe, HWMO and a group of HWMO’s partners from University of Hawaii CTAHR, DNLR Division of Forestry and Wildlife, Guam Forestry, and Honolulu Fire Department gathered for a breakout discussion on how to improve engagement around the wildfire issue in Hawaii Kai and Waianae. The discussion was part of a TELE Workshop, a project of the Sustaining Family Forests Initiative, a collaboration between Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Nonprofit Strategies. During the workshop, participants learned the ins and outs of designing and implementing more effective programming and outreach with landowners. We found the training to be incredibly useful and it will help us better our own wildfire engagement strategies.
Banner photo credit: DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife
We joined a climate adaptation meeting with the very proactive Waianae Coast Disaster Readiness Team on February 21. The WCDRT had recently formed a subcommittee to focus on Firewise Community work in Waianae and invited us to chat with them to discuss potential candidates for the program. The group settled on Sea Country in Maili, which would make the community the first Firewise Community in the western half of Oahu. We stayed for the rest of the meeting to hear from presenters regarding sea level rise adaptation and general climate adaptation strategies. Josh Stanbro from the County of Honolulu Office of Climate Change took a survey of the large meeting group to assess what climate challenges were on people's minds.
HWMO's Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Akira Beimler, traveled to the westside of Oahu to teach about wildfire impacts with 7th grade students of Kamaile Academy. The intelligent and enthusiastic students took part in an activity to place photos of wildfire impacts on a blown-up drawing of an island. They had to determine where those impacts would occur on the island, eventually filling up the island with impacts from summit to sea. Wildfires affect everything from mauka to makai. To put this newfound knowledge into action, the students created bookmarks with wildfire prevention messages. These bookmarks would eventually be voted on at the upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit in May.
Mahalo Mr. Jameil Saez for having us share with your awesome students!