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Restoration of Forest Key to Fire Control, Expert Says

Dr. Trauernicht gives background on the wildfire issue in Maui and across the state. Credit: The Maui News

Dr. Trauernicht gives background on the wildfire issue in Maui and across the state. Credit: The Maui News

Great article on the wildfire issue in Hawaii based on a recent talk by our close partner, Dr. Clay Trauernicht of University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension / Pacific Fire Exchange. Also, important identification of the need for more funding for forest restoration and fire prevention by another close partner of ours, Chris Brosius, program manager of the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership.

From the Source:

The causes of most fires are unknown. Out of 12,000 recorded incidents statewide from 2000 to 2011, only 882, or about 7 percent, had a determined cause. Of those, 72 percent were accidental, which also means they’re preventable, Trauernicht said at Wednesday’s meeting in the Pacific Whale Foundation’s classrooms in Maalaea. That’s why part of the solution is public education on the risks of fire and how to avoid sparking a fire.

That’s why it’s important to find ways to change the landscape to less sensitive and less flammable vegetation, he said. Statewide, non-native grasses and shrubland cover 25 percent of the total land; in Maui County, it’s 36 percent.

“Rather than trying to weed wack or spray to kill the grass, maybe you should think about a more permanent strategy, like planting trees to shade those grasses out,” Trauernicht said. “In other words, converting that vegetation to something that’s less likely to burn.”

“We can really only do two things,” Trauernicht explained. “We can target ignitions . . . and the only thing we have direct control over is the vegetation.”

“A lot of people think about jumping right into fuels management,” he said. “One of the big things is just having access and safer conditions and water for firefighters. So I think some of the more immediate things is ensuring they have the safest conditions.”

A Warming Planet Could Trigger More Intense Wildfire Season in Hawaii

Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

Over the last several years, HWMO has prioritized adaptive measures such as Firewise Communities and strategic, cross-boundary vegetation management planning to ready areas for the rapidly changing conditions causing more and larger wildfires in Hawaii. The gravity of the situation is real with climate change, but there is so much we can do in our own communities to prepare for wildfires and other climate hazards. Learn how by visiting our Take Action page and the Wildfire Lookout! page.

Check out this excellent article with some of our close partners, including Dr. Clay Trauernicht and Michael Walker, who were interviewed and data that HWMO was instrumental in laying the groundwork for — the statewide wildfire history database we produced with our fire agency partners. Although sobering, it is great to see this data put to use for a better understanding of how climate change affects Hawaii locally.


From the Source:

In Hawaii, wildfires generally ignite during the dry season, typically between May and November, when it's hotter, drier and windier outside.

But models show that the drier leeward areas, where fires are more frequent, will see even less rainfall as a result of climate change, exacerbating drought conditions and expanding the length of Hawaii's dry season.

That means more favorable conditions for brush fires to ignite.

And non-native grasslands and shrubs — which cover nearly a fourth of Hawaii's total land area — are highly adapted to fire, meaning they thrive when they burn and come back really quickly, researchers say. And the drier it is, the harder it is for forests to recover in those spots.

Hotter days could spell longer-lasting brush fires, meaning more hours for firefighters and greater potential for damage to infrastructure.

And it's only going to get hotter. A regional NOAA report estimates that in Hawaii, temperatures are expected to rise by 4 to 5 degrees by 2085 — under a worst case emission scenario.

"If you have hotter days, the conditions that are going to promote your most active fires — like the hottest, windiest conditions — have the potential to last longer for hours within a span of a day," Trauernicht said, pointing to the Makaha fire that continued burning in the early evening, when temperatures are normally dropping and humidity levels usually go up.

Fire Is the One Hawaii Disaster We Can Avoid

The August 2018 wildfires in Waianae Valley. Credit: Clay Trauernicht

The August 2018 wildfires in Waianae Valley. Credit: Clay Trauernicht

An excellent article by Dr. Clay Trauernicht, wildland fire specialist of University of Hawaii CTAHR Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange.

Not only does he explain why wildfires in Hawaii have burned 30,000 acres in August 2018, (more than double the annual average), but that it was predictable and there is much people can do to prevent wildfires. Dr. Trauernicht specifically sites the Wildfire LOOKOUT! tips for wildfire prevention.

To learn more about what you can do to protect your home and community from wildfire, visit HawaiiWildfire.org/lookout

From the Source:

Vegetation may be the most problematic issue facing fire management in Hawaii. Simply put, our communities and forests now exist amid an ocean of fire-prone grasslands and shrublands — about a million acres statewide. This is mostly a consequence of benign neglect as the value of real estate outweighs the value of maintaining production landscapes. Our agricultural and ranching footprint has declined by more than 60 percent across the state….

So what can we do about it? Awareness and education is the first step. Multiple state and county agencies and non-profits are working on this via the Hawaii Wildfire Lookout! Campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Fire prevention education can reduce accidental fires. Homes can be “hardened” to reduce the risk of loss. Communities can become “firewise” and organize to take actions such as increasing access for firefighters and reducing hazardous fuels near homes.

Vegetation is in some sense the simplest issue to tackle because it is the only fire hazard we can directly manage.  Yet it is also the most challenging due to the scale of the problem — the million acres of grasslands and shrublands across the state. There are multiple solutions for reducing risk in these fuels: fuel breaks, targeted grazing, prescribed fire, the restoration of agricultural and native ecosystems. There are also regulatory measures that can help such as firewise building and development codes.

Check out this letter to the editor from a former Firewise Co-Chair for Launiupoko, Ms. Linda Jenkins, who talks about their Firewise outreach efforts as a pathway forward.

”We completed assessments and provided all our neighbors with tips on how to make their homes and properties fire wise. An extensive public education campaign was conducted and we received our Firewise certification. We circulated tips on how to build a home and lay out a property to reduce fire risk. We also circulated tips on how to make your existing property and already built home safer.

This was successful in that many people made simple changes to their properties. I was also on the board at Makila and we maintained the sides of the bike path to create a fire break and kept our grass verges green.”

Drought in West Hawaii Increases Risk of Wildfires Running Rampant Already

"North Kona, seen from the Highway 190 scenic lookout, is brown and dry from the ongoing drought." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

"North Kona, seen from the Highway 190 scenic lookout, is brown and dry from the ongoing drought." (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

Did you know 99 percent of wildfires in Hawaii are started by people? This West Hawaii Today article written by reporter Max Dible, explores the effects of drought on wildfire. 

Check out HawaiiWildfire.org/lookout for tips on what you can do to help protect your home and family from wildfire.

From the Source:

Tamara Hynd, program and operations assistant with the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said wildfires have already burned through roughly 34,000 acres across the state, more than double the yearly average of 17,000 with more than four months of a dry year yet to go.

“Drought always plays a factor because the longer it goes on, the more intense it gets,” she said. “Your larger fuels begin to dry out more and more.”

Some advice she offered to mitigate risk is to avoid parking on dry grass because heat from exhaust systems can ignite it, or to keep heavy machinery like welding equipment and weed whackers away from dry areas, as such work can result in sparks that start fires.

Hynd said it was repair to heavy equipment that was the catalyst for the wildfire that ignited in Volcano earlier this month.

People who keep their grass short, their rain gutters free of debris and who have a water source and/or fire extinguisher on hand are also less likely to cause accidental wildfires, she said.

The Conversation: Fire Campaign - Look Out for Wildfires!

Credit: Flickr

Credit: Flickr

Check out our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, on Hawaii's popular radio program The Conversation talk about Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization spearheading a messaging campaign called Wildfire LOOKOUT!

From the Source:

This has been a wild few weeks. We are talking wildfires...from California to Oahu’s west side, to the Big Island where firefighters are still working to protect special ecological areas, cultural heritage sites from being destroyed. A management team from California which has been helping the National Park Service as most of the blaze is within park boundaries.  This week the Hawaii Wildfire organization is launching a campaign to get the public to take steps now to prevent the start a wildfire.

Wai Watchers: The Vital Role of Volunteers in Watershed Health

"Dedicated Makai Watch Volunteer James Heacock (clipboard) has been doing surveys for 10 years. Here, he surveys the coast with fisherman Kawika Auld." Photo courtesy of Christine Shepard

"Dedicated Makai Watch Volunteer James Heacock (clipboard) has been doing surveys for 10 years. Here, he surveys the coast with fisherman Kawika Auld." Photo courtesy of Christine Shepard

What does it take to protect an entire watershed? Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. Great feature in Ke Ola Magazine highlighting South Kohala Coastal Partnership efforts - we are proud to be a part of such a solid partnership!

From the Source:

The South Kohala Coastal Partnership is composed of over 70 participants including 30 state and local experts such as biologists, kūpuna, cultural practitioners, teachers, fishermen, coastal business owners, land managers, resort representatives, and more. Together they tackle everything from land-based sources of pollution, to unsustainable fishing practices, to invasive species. Community participation has provided essential people-power for data collection and projects supporting this work.

The reefs located at the bottom of Kohala Mountain reflect what happens at higher elevations. Over the centuries, events such as the historic harvest of sandalwood, the introduction of species like goats, overgrazing by cattle, fires, and floods have converted much of the once-forested mountain into grassland and denuded landscapes. Without roots, ferns, and mosses to catch and hold the heavy rains, acres of bare soil wash downstream. This erosion buries corals in sediment and reduces the reef’s once-rich diversity of fish and invertebrates. Did you know that each grain of sediment can be re-suspended 10,000 times by waves, blocking light and re-smothering coral over and over? Agencies like The Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization and The Kohala Center are working in partnership with landowners and ranchers to reduce this impact up-slope.

 

Officer Bidal and Firefighter/EMT Willey are Honored by Aloha Exchange Club

Officer Conrad Bidal (L) Firefighter/EMT Kainoa Willey (R). Credit: Hawaii 24/7

Officer Conrad Bidal (L) Firefighter/EMT Kainoa Willey (R). Credit: Hawaii 24/7

Kainoa is also an amazing musician - he and our project assistant, Tom Loomis, played hours of sweet tunes for our Denny's Fundraiser in 2015! Congratulations Firefighter Willey and Officer Bidal from all of us at Hawaii Wildfire.

From the Source:

Firefighter Willey is honored for his outstanding work as a Firefighter/EMT in West Hawaiʻi, but what sets him apart is his initiative in volunteering for several community projects sponsored by the Hawaiʻi Fire Department including spearheading numerous fundraising efforts for Fire Department Personnel in need of financial assistance due to illness, injury, or traumatic events.

Registration Open for Hawaii Wildfire Summit

2018_3_16_Hawaii Wildfire Summit_Schedule_at_a_glance_FINAL copy_Page_1.jpg

Mahalo to Big Island Now and West Hawaii Today for publishing information on our upcoming Hawaii Wildfire Summit.

From the Source:

Since wildfires are such a wide-spanning issue that affect communities, lands, and waters, the solutions require everyone playing a proactive role. The Hawai‘i Wildfire Summit is a unique opportunity to learn, share, and collaborate with others who deal with wildfire in their work and communities across Hawai‘i and the Pacific.

This year’s theme is “Collaborating Across Hawaii and the Pacific for Summit to Sea Wildfire Protection.”

Presentations and workshops that one would otherwise have to attend on the mainland U.S. will also be a highlight of the event, offering a local option to connect to national-level programs, research and trainings.

VIDEO: Officials Warn of Fire Danger in Dry Season

Big Island Video News screen capture from October 19, 2017 video.

Big Island Video News screen capture from October 19, 2017 video.

Courtesy of the 40+ partners including HWMO issuing a "Wildfire LOOKOUT!" advisory. 

From the Source:

"State officials are warning that Hawai‘i fire danger is currently high across the state and will remain so until normal winter precipitation sets in.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources says the state has experienced persistent and worsening drought conditions since July, with wildfire activity ramping up over the last month. 'Unlike most of the U.S., fire season in Hawai‘i is year around,' DLNR wrote in a media advisory. 'Residents and visitors are urged to prevent fire ignitions from starting: be careful with equipment that may spark, do not park or idle cars on dry grass, and completely extinguish all campfires.'

'Also, a wildfire can quickly turn into a subdivision fire, such as the recent and devastating wildfires in California and other states,' DLNR stated. 'This can happen in Hawai‘i too, but residents can take action to protect their homes and prevent the spread of fire.'”

HWMO Highlight on the Conversation

Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

Thank you to The Conversation on HPR for highlighting the wildfire issue and having HWMO's Elizabeth Pickett as a guest on the show! Peak wildfire season is not over (and in Hawaii, fire season is all year long) so stay vigilant, have a plan, and evacuate early.

From the Source:

"Hawaii has its own problem with wildfires, and each summer seems to bring a rash of fires that are mostly caused by people – some accidental, many of them deliberate. The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization compiles the available data about each year’s wildfires."

Firefighter Chili Cook-Off Spices Things Up in Waimea

PTA Fire Chief Eric Moller serves their recipe to Connie Bender at the Chili Cook-Off for Wildfire Prevention Saturday at the Parker Ranch Red Barn. (Laura Ruminski-West Hawaii Today)

PTA Fire Chief Eric Moller serves their recipe to Connie Bender at the Chili Cook-Off for Wildfire Prevention Saturday at the Parker Ranch Red Barn. (Laura Ruminski-West Hawaii Today)

We are ecstatic to see that the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off made the front page of the West Hawaii Today on Monday, August 28! Thank you to everyone who made the cook-off such a wonderful event and successful fundraiser. You can also read more by checking out our blog post.

From the Source:

"The sold out fundraiser for the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) was attended by over 200 guests who sampled and voted for their favorite chili recipe.

HWMO’s mission is dedicated to proactive and collaborative wildfire related education, outreach and technical assistance, project implementation and research.

Money raised will go to the nonprofit organization’s operating costs, according to Pablo Beimler, Community Outreach Coordinator.

Beimler said 25,000 flyers recently went out to students across the state as part of their school outreach, and coloring books are on their way."

The Conversation - HWMO Interview June 2, 2017

Credit: National Park Service

Credit: National Park Service

Check out HWMO's Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, on The Conversation on HPR! We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to share about wildfire readiness for 10 minutes on the air.

From the Source:

"With the hot dry summer months ahead, the fire threat, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is reminding the state that wildfires are nearly always started by people, regardless of intent."

Waikoloa's New Fire Management Committee

Waikoloa Fire Management Committee

Waikoloa is entering a new phase in wildfire protection with the formation of a new Fire Management Committee made up of four knowledgeable go-getters! As their first major goal, they are working with HWMO to become the largest Firewise Community in the State of Hawaii. HWMO completed a hazard assessment report for the village and the committee will now work on developing an action plan. We thank the new committee members for stepping to the plate to help protect the village from wildfires!

NOTE: The brief article is on page 3.

From the Source:

"WVA now has a newly formed Fire Management Action Committee. Team members are Mark Gordon (Chair), Wayne Awai, Bev Brand, Dave Faucette. The current goal of the Committee is to achieve a National Firewise Community designation for Waikoloa Village by the end of 2016.

On Tuesday, Sept. 13th 2016, members of the Committee, along with staff from Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, Hawaii Fire Department, Waikoloa Dryland Forest Initiative and the Department of Forestry and Wildlife conducted a Firewise Community Hazard Assessment. This involved conducting a home ignition zone assessment of 3 homes as varying examples of common wildfire hazards and Firewise modifications made to minimize exposure from embers and heat from wildfire. In addition, priority areas at risk of wildfire were examined by the team to determine what steps could be done to make the greater community more Firewise."

'Good Neighbors' Help to Fight Fires in Remote Kahikinui Homestead

Excellent, in-depth article of the recent PFX Field Tour of Kahikinui, the community's history and past struggles with large wildfires, and the bright future ahead of them for their preparedness efforts. Mahalo to the Maui News for the great coverage and to Leeward Haleakala Watershed Partnership and Pacific Fire Exchange for coordinating the field tour.

From the Source:

"There have been some smaller meetings with the community and adjacent landowners in the past, but this was the first time so many people with such a broad range of experience and interest in collaboration came together that I'm aware of," said Andrea Buckman, coordinator for the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, who organized the event along with the Pacific Fire Exchange.

Kahikinui resident Ainoa Kaiaokamalie and others joined Pacific Fire Exchange, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and a variety of other stakeholders for the field tour. Photo Credit: The Maui News

Kahikinui resident Ainoa Kaiaokamalie and others joined Pacific Fire Exchange, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and a variety of other stakeholders for the field tour. Photo Credit: The Maui News

"In the meantime, grant funding is also an option for the community. One available program is the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface grant, which provides funding for projects related to fire education, planning and prevention. Through this grant, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization already has $5,000 for a fuel reduction project in Kahikinui that must be matched by cash or volunteer hours."

"Currently, Kahikinui is working to become a certified Firewise Community through the help of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Pablo Beimler, the organization's community outreach coordinator, said that he expects Kahikinui to receive its certification by the end of the year. Being certified would help push Kahikinui higher on grant funding lists and could reduce insurance costs in the future, he said.

Trauernicht said that the prevention projects being considering 'are always cheaper in the long run' when compared to the costs of restoring forests, livestock fuel and homes."

Completing the (Fire) Cycle of Information Sharing

HWMO is working with its Pacific partners to bring national wildfire preparedness programs to the local level. Photo Credit: HWMO

Check out Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network's feature on HWMO released today, written by Community Outreach Coordinator, Pablo Beimler.

Excited to see the hard work of HWMO and its Pacific partners showcased on the national stage!

Mahalo Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network for the opportunity to share our lessons learned.

From the Source:

"Living in the most remote island chain in the world with over 2,500 miles of Pacific Ocean separating us from the continental U.S. (a.k.a. “the mainland”), it is only fitting that Hawai‘i has a unique set of traits and challenges that can sometimes make one feel isolated from the rest of the world. However, the era of modern networking capabilities is helping shed light on the commonalities we share, while still honoring the differences that make us unique."

"Starting in 2013, HWMO collaborated with the IAFC Ready, Set, Go! program to produce a Hawaii-version of the Wildland Fire Action Guide. IAFC graciously printed 10,000 copies for HWMO and county fire departments to distribute. Replacing photos and references to conifer forests, shake roof homes, and other mainland- WUI features, HWMO integrated Hawai’i-specific photos and information and added an introductory section about wildfire in Hawai’i’. Since incorporating the new guide into our fire preparedness workshops and outreach booths, we’ve noticed a spike in interest from residents and even visitors about the Ready, Set, Go! program. Whether learning how to prevent embers from collecting under the lanai (patio) or browsing the visual list of recommended Firewise native plants, residents have taken the RSG! guides into their own hands. Launiupoko Firewise Committee in West Mauʻi plans to send more than 350 guides to residents as their first ever Firewise event."

Watch Out for Wildfires

Currently there are several updates to Community Wildfire Protection Plans in the works, as well as new plans being developed.

Mahalo to The Garden Island for the nice feature on the wildfire situation in Kauai and the Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) that HWMO has been working.

From the Source:

“Don’t be fooled by the rain we might get and think we’re off the hook,” said Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, a nonprofit that’s dedicated to spreading wildfire education. “Rain makes more vegetation grow, that dries out and then there’s more fuel for wildfire.”

Pablo Beimler, HWMO coordinator, said with the extensive drought period the state experienced earlier this year, and the EL Nino phenomenon that’s in effect “could spell trouble in the number of ignitions and the sizes.”

In preparation for that dry summer, HWMO has been working on six Community Wildfire Protection Plans, which outline the wildfire hazard sand issues each specific community faces, the organizations and entitles that have a stake in wildfire management, and how they can work together to minimize the number and sizes of wildfires this season.

Organizations Kick Off Wildfire and Drought Look Out! Campaign

Credit - Molly Solomon/HPR

HWMO and its partners statewide worked together to launch Wildfire & Drought Look Out!, Hawaii's first coordinated statewide wildfire outreach campaign. Here are a number of news clippings from TV, radio, and newspaper sources and the links to each source.

 

KHON2:

“‘I have been preparing for it for years now,’ said Momoa. ‘Ever since I moved in there, I could see the vision that it was going to burn soon.’”

Big Island Now:

“‘We have set up both a public and a media page on the HWMO website. The public page will have loads of information for home and property owners on how best to prepare for the possibility of wildfire well in advance,’ said HWMO Executive Director Elizabeth Pickett. ‘We’ll include water saving information which is really topical during this prolonged drought event in many areas across the state, largely caused by El Nino weather conditions.’

HWMO will also maintain and manage a media page, where partners can contribute story ideas and leads for reporters and their news organizations.”

Maui News:

“Prevention suggestions include:

* Clearing combustible materials near homes and lanais.

* Keeping grass short and tree branches off of the ground.

* Creating a defensible space at least 100 feet around a home.

* Removing leaves and debris from gutters and roofs.

* Covering eaves and vents with -inch mesh.

* Creating and practicing a family evacuation plan.”

HPR:

“With an above-average fire season ahead, state officials stress a need for public awareness. Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization is a nonprofit that’s working with federal, state and local agencies to kick start a campaign to provide information and tips for homeowners. More information can be found on their website, hawaiiwildfire.org.”

Honolulu Civil Beat:

More than 60 percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions, and parts of the Big Island are facing extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Credit - Clay Trauernicht

“We hope this campaign, which has both a public and a media component, will educate and inform everyone living in and visiting Hawaii about the year-around threat of wildfires,” DLNR Director Suzanne Case said in a release.

Hookele News:

“The campaign seeks to educate homeowners and communities and empower them to take proactive steps that reduce the chances of wildfire ignition and create safer conditions for our firefighters.”

 

PHOTOS: Kanehoa Community Clears the Way to Being 'Firewise'

Credit: HWMO

We cannot be any happier to see the great work the Kanehoa Firewise Committee and residents have put in to reduce the wildfire threat in their area. The second Firewise Community in Hawaii is well on their way to retaining that title for this year and beyond!

From the Source:

"Members of the Kanehoa community spent their Saturday making their community safer against the threat of wildfires.

The Hawai’i Wildfire Management’s Wildfire Prep Day provided communities across the island, state, and nation to participate in a day of preparation in honor of Wildfire Preparedness Month.

In total, two dozen Kanehoa community members joined in to remove an entire large dumpster with haole koa, also known as ekoa. The plant is known to be highly flammable and has the potential to create embers that can spark new fires, both near and far away."

"'All of us at Hawai’i Wildfire Management Organization are very proud of the work the Kanehoa community has contributed towards reducing the wildfire threat in their area and we hope more communities will follow their lead,' Pablo Akira Beimler, HWMO Community Outreach Coordinator, said in an e-mail.

Beimler says the efforts greatly reduced the wildfire threat by ensuring the roads can act as a fuel break to slow the spread of wildfire."

Wildland Fire Meeting on Kauai

Mauna Kea Fire Field Tour on second day of 2014 CNH Conference. Credit: HWMO

HWMO will be one of the speakers at this year's California, Nevada, and Hawaii WIldland Fire Conference in Kauai. Stay tuned to our HWMO Blog for a recap on the event!

From the Source:

"The event is geared for firefighting agencies at all levels of government to promote professional wildland fire management practices that protect lives and property, and enhance natural resource values.

Among the topics of discussion will be presentations by representatives of: the National Weather Service on the El Nino season and effects on fire conditions in Hawaii, Pacific Fire Exchange on challenges to rapid wildfire containment in Hawaii, and the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization."

Despite Recent Rain, Drought Conditions Expected to Last Long Into Summer

Credit: West Hawaii Today

Credit: West Hawaii Today

You might be able to see it just outside your bedroom window: the landscape around you starting to look drier and drier. Forecasts are calling for severe droughts for most of Hawaiʻi throughout the year (and possibly beyond). There are a number of steps you can take to make sure you stay a few steps ahead of the many wildfires on the way, both on wet and dry sides. 

From the Source:

"These sudden downpours are part of the pattern, said Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, based in Waimea. The moisture stays just long enough to encourage vegetation growth, then it disappears and takes its time coming back."

"A coordinated group of federal, state and county fire officials have declared a wildfire and drought lookout, said Pickett. Officials with the National Park Service, U.S. Army, and Hawaii County Fire Department and the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife are on alert, she said.

'The forecast is really dismal as far as long dry periods and vegetation growth,' Pickett said.

The public will see the agencies roll out a wildfire awareness campaign in May in coordination with the national Wildfire Awareness Month, Pickett said.

Residents can do simple things to protect themselves from wildfire. They include landscaping with native plants -- most of which are naturally fire resistant -- and cutting down and removing brush and other fuel from near their homes.

'Many (introduced) plants that don't get enough water during a drought will drop their leaves and create a fire hazard,' Pickett said.