fuels reduction projects

As Dry Summer Season Nears, A Community is Working to Prevent Wildfires

Team Rubicon volunteers out in full force to help create a firebreak. Credit: Hawaii News Now

Team Rubicon volunteers out in full force to help create a firebreak. Credit: Hawaii News Now

As a very fitting tribute to Memorial Day, a collaboration of people including military veterans from Team Rubicon, an international veteran service organization that uses disaster response to help reintegrate veterans back into civilian life, came out in full force to create a large firebreak around Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove. The Firewise Community (the first ever on Oahu as of 2018!) of agricultural and residential lots in Hawaii Kai, has been working with HWMO for a couple of years now in an effort to create a more wildfire resilient community.

This weekend, as part of Wildfire Preparedness Day, we are seeing what it means to be fire-adapted: everyone playing a role to reduce wildfire risk. The Firewise committee consisting of local residents and farmers, Aloha Aina O Kamilo Nui, and Livable Hawaii Kai Hui organized the work days; Team Rubicon volunteers are knocking back fire fuels; neighboring landowners provided access to the land and green waste hauling services; residents are feeding volunteers; and HWMO provided a hazard assessment, continual guidance through the Firewise Communities process, and a $2,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service. We are so grateful to everyone who is helping out to make Kamilonui - Mariner’s Cove a model for community-driven wildfire protection on Oahu and for the rest of the Hawaiian Islands!

From the Source:

This Memorial Day weekend, hard-working volunteers are helping out homeowners worried about the threat of wildfires. They started creating a new firebreak on Saturday near Mariner’s Cove.

With the help of a hazard assessment from the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, the community came up with an action plan.

With moderate drought conditions across the state, wildfire experts are concerned about this summer.

“During those El Nino periods, we actually see significant increases in wildfire ignitions, but also in the amount of area that burns so we’re defintiely very worried this summer,” said Pablo Beimler, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization’s community outreach coordinator.

“It’s like black and white, like a swarm of bees come in here and sort of take over, start in five different spots and just continue on down. It’s really amazing,” said homeowner Dick Johnson.

Brushing Up on Wildfire Skills

Credit: Maui News

Credit: Maui News

Prescribed fire can be a great opportunity for firefighters to train for real life wildfire scenarios, while also reducing vegetation hazards prior to peak fire season. Wildfires are inevitable in dry areas, but they don’t have to catch us completely off guard and be as destructive as they have been. As Chief Eric Moller of U.S. Army-Garrison, FES says: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of protection.”

From the Source:

Maui Fire Department firefighters learn how to “fight fire with fire” while taking part in an annual wild land refresher training in a former sugar cane field several miles mauka of Puunene Tuesday morning. Assistant Chief Rick Kawasaki explained that during a windblown brush fire a “backfire,” or “burnout,” strategy can be used to widen a firebreak or eliminate combustibles next to structures to rob a raging fire of fuel when it reaches the area. “It’s less labor intensive,” Kawasaki said. “With this type of fuel, it burns so fast, we can’t keep up.” 

Live Wildfire Training on Maui Set Later This Month

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

View of Launiupoko where the April 17, 18, 22 training will take place.

Attention Maui residents and visitors:

From the Source:

The Maui Fire Department will be conducting wildland firefighting refresher training in the Launiupoko and Central Maui areas April 17 to 19 and 22 to 24 — using live fires.

Residents may see flames or smell smoke in the training areas, said acting Fire Services Chief Jeffrey T. Giesea.

The purpose of the exercises is to provide a hands-on refresher training for firefighting personnel prior to the upcoming brush fire season and to reduce the brush fire hazard in the neighboring communities by burning away fuel and creating a “safety buffer.”

Firefighters will be in a 20-acre plot about 3 miles east of the old Puunene Mill from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 19, 23, 24; and in Launiupoko on a 20-acre plot north of Haniu Street and Punakea Loop along “Lahaina Pump Ditch Two” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 17, 18, 22.

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.”

Apply for a Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Grant by March 1!

#WildfirePrepDay 2018 at Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove in Hawaii Kai, Oahu. They received a State Farm grant for their vegetation reduction efforts and were able to go the extra mile because of it! Credit: Livable Hawaii Kai Hui

#WildfirePrepDay 2018 at Kamilonui-Mariner’s Cove in Hawaii Kai, Oahu. They received a State Farm grant for their vegetation reduction efforts and were able to go the extra mile because of it! Credit: Livable Hawaii Kai Hui

From our partners at NFPA:

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day this year it is May 4, 2019. NFPA® will again be offering project funding awards to 150 communities across the United States. Each of these $500 awards provided with past generous support from State Farm, can be used to complete a wildfire safety project where you live.

The application period for one of one hundred fifty $500 awards opens January 7 at 8 AM EST, and will close March 1 at midnight EST.  Winners will be announced March 22. 

Fueling the Fire: Trump Thinks Logging Will Stop the Burning in California. It won't.

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

“On the left is the Camp Fire in Big Bend, California, and on the right the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.” - Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images and David McNew/Getty Images

One of the most renowned wildland fire experts, Stephen J. Pyne, offers more than his two cents of why the California fires are as extreme as they are…and it is not because California has not removed enough trees.

From the Source:

Where fires are crashing into towns, the real fuel is the built environment. Aerial photos of savaged suburbs tend to show incinerated structures and still-standing trees. The vegetation is adapted to fire; the houses aren’t. Once multiple structures begin to burn, the local fire services are overwhelmed and the fire spreads from building to building. This is the kind of urban conflagration Americans thought they had banished in the early 20th century. It’s like watching measles or polio return. Clearly, the critical reforms must target our houses and towns and revaccinate them against today’s fire threats. The National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise program shows how to harden houses and create defensible space without nuking the scene into asphalt or dirt.

Too often, whether we’re talking about politics or fire management, the discussion ends up in absolutes. We leave the land to nature, we strip it, or we convert it to built landscapes. We have either the wild or the wrecked. In fact, there are lots of options available, and they will work best as cocktails. There is a place for prescribed burning, for prescribed grazing, for prescribed thinning (a kind of woody weeding), for prescribed chipping and masticating by machines, for greenbelting—crafting swathes of low-fuel land use like recreational parks or even golf courses—and, in select sites, for prescribed logging. Most treatments should concentrate where people and high-value assets are at risk—exurbs, suburbs, municipal watersheds. Elsewhere, in wildlands, some kind of managed fire will likely prove the most usable means, and in the West, hybrid practices—half suppression, half prescribed burn—are becoming common.

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.”

Officials: Fuelbreaks ‘Without A Doubt’ Save Homes In Grand Lake Golf Course Fire

Credit: Colorado State Forest Service

Credit: Colorado State Forest Service

Wildfire preparedness - it really works! HWMO has committed much time and resources working with community and agency partners to protect communities and natural resource areas using vegetation reduction strategies such as fuelbreaks. Check out this success story from one of the large fires in Colorado this summer.

From the Source:

Last Thursday, 300 homes were ordered to evacuate due to the 20-acre wildfire burning at the Grand Lake Golf Course in Grand Lake.

The fire came within 30 feet of some homes but no homes burned.

“The forestry work and fuels mitigation the Colorado State Forest Service has administered in the Grand Lake community without a doubt saved the Columbine subdivision,” said Chief Mike Long, Grand Lake Fire.

6,342 Invasive Pines Removed at Haleakalā, Volunteers Sought

"Volunteers remove invasive plants at summit of Haleakalā." Credit: Haleakalā NP.

"Volunteers remove invasive plants at summit of Haleakalā." Credit: Haleakalā NP.

Aloha friends visiting or living in Maui, here is a great way to care for the ʻāina with our friends from the National Park Service and the Pacific Whale Foundation, while also reducing the wildfire risk in Haleakalā. 

From the Source:

The next Waele ma Haleakalā will occur this Saturday, April 7, 2018. Since April of last year, Waele ma Haleakalā volunteers have pulled 6,342 invasive pines and almost 2,500 invasive plants.

Volunteers will physically remove young pine trees and other small invasive plants from the Summit District. Transportation, training, hand tools, gloves, and other equipment will be provided. Please sign up by 7:30 a.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018, by contacting the Pacific Whale Foundation at (808) 249-8811. Space is limited to 11 volunteers.

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.

 

Haleakala Seeks Volunteers for Pine Pulling Project

Three non-native pine species (Monterey pine, Mexican weeping pine, and maritime pine) are highly invasive. PC: Haleakalā NP.

Three non-native pine species (Monterey pine, Mexican weeping pine, and maritime pine) are highly invasive. PC: Haleakalā NP.

Great volunteer event this Saturday, July 15, to help reduce the fire threat at Haleakala National Park. 

From the Source:

"Three non-native pine species (Monterey pine, Mexican weeping pine, and maritime pine) are highly invasive. Rangers say they displace endemic and endangered species, change soil chemistry, and increase the potential for wildfire in habitats not adapted to fire. Park staff, partners, and volunteers periodically pull young pines to keep them from spreading throughout the park."

Advancing FAC in Hawaii: Increasing Awareness, Thinking Both Short and Long Term and...Goats?

Click to Read the Blog Post

Click to Read the Blog Post

In 2015, we began working with several communities statewide on grassroots-level community wildfire protection efforts, primarily through Firewise’s communities recognition program. Only a few years later, we’re happy to say that our communities are seeing some great success! Find out how HWMO and its partners are working with communities to advance Fire Adapted Community goals in the latest highlight on the FAC Learning Network blog.

From the Source:

"These recommendations have already encouraged Firewise committees to start thinking outside of the box. For example, two years ago, Waikoloa Village received a fuels reduction grant from the USDA Forest Service. The village used the funds to hire a goat-grazing contractor to reduce flammable vegetation on vacant lots. As phase two of the project, the community will be installing permanent fence posts to allow for more regular grazing. Eventually, they may transform these lots into a multi-use area where goats continue to graze and the community also grows citrus trees.

These communities are also engaging residents through outreach. A few months ago, the Launiupoko Firewise committee sent over 300 copies of ReadySetGo! Wildland Fire Action Guides to residents. This spring, they will be hiring a contractor to remove flammable vegetation along an established bike path. Kahikinui, a small homestead in one of the most remote areas on Maui, worked tirelessly last year to engage neighboring large landowners and various agencies in their Firewise efforts. Their persistence and creativity led to a collaborative fuels mitigation project that received funding from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and a local wind farm."

Fire Adaptation Strategies from Across the Nation: My Travels in 2016

Great to see such amazing work happening across the nation -- we are so grateful to be a part of this movement towards Fire Adapted Communities. Mahalo to USAA's Rob Galbraith and Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network for the feature and encouraging support.  

From the Source:

"Finally, I had the unique opportunity to spend a day with Pablo Beimler and the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) on the Big Island in September. Pablo’s previous blog post captures much of what he shared with me, but I left so inspired by what HWMO has been able to accomplish with such a unique landscape (where fire is not a natural part of the ecology), being so remote from others and with limited resources. Their can-do spirit, willingness to innovate and strong sense of motivation and engagement has remained with me and inspires me to continue our work at USAA to further collaborate and support FAC Net members and affiliate members in their efforts."

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."

Student Earns National Fire Prevention Award

"Waimea Middle School student Kyren Martins was selected as one of 10 national recipients of the $500 'TakeAction' community service funding award."

Out of our superb team of action takers in Waimea sprouted a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) #‎TakeAction winner! Congratulations Kyren Martins!

From the Source:

"Five Waimea Middle School students assembled together in a group organized by the Hawai’i Wildlife Management Organization to address wildfire prevention and preparedness. One of those students gained national recognition."

"Martins and Rillanos created prevention signs, Murakami-Mattos worked on a video project that focuses on 'good versus bad defensible space,' and Bell-Kaopuiki and Rivera joined together to remove flammable plant debris from the Mālaʻai Culinary Garden.

Martins was one of ten national recipients. His family was affected by the Kawaihae fire and flooding that followed in August. As a project, Martins made and installed a wildfire prevention sign at the edge of his home, visible from the roadway."

Waimea Youth Wildfire Prep Team

Waikoloa Breeze July 2015 - Goat Dozing and Future of WVA Owned Lands; Pohinahina

Click to enlarge.

We're featured in the Waikoloa Breeze's General Manager Report for July 2015. GM Roger Wehrsig of Waikoloa Village Association recaps our latest project clearing portions of association-owned lands within the Village using "goat-dozers." 

Also, check out our "Native Firewise Plant of the Month" section highlighting Pohinahina, a great Firewise ground-cover that also acts as a soil stabilizer and grows quite quickly in dry areas.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

New Community Partnership on Hawaii Island Aims to Improve Water Quality

"Rocky coastline on Hawaii Island." Credit - UH Manoa

"Rocky coastline on Hawaii Island." Credit - UH Manoa

We are excited to be a partner of UH Sea Grant and South Kohala Coastal Partnership for this incredible project. Post-fire erosion has always been a major concern for HWMO, so we linked up with Sierra Tobiason and the rest of the partnership for this forward-thinking project to provide any help we could, including funding support for fuels reduction (which has taken place at a couple of sites within the last month.) 

From the Source:

"The two-year Wai 2 Kai project will take place at five sites along the Waikoloa stream and within the Wai‘ula‘ula Watershed. At these sites volunteers will be recruited to install and maintain raingardens, participate in stream and beach clean-ups, remove invasive plant species, and help the project reach its goal of planting 20,000 native plants."

These native plant restoration and Wai 2 Kai volunteer activities were designed to not only restore and improve water quality, but to encourage long-lasting stewardship and understanding of the importance of healthy watersheds.

Said Tobiason, 'The organizations, agencies and community groups of the South Kohala Coastal Partnership have been instrumental in helping to develop collaborative stewardship opportunities to improve the water quality from wai to kai -- the stream to the ocean. It is very exciting to have so much community involvement and partnership support in this project as we work together to improve water quality and reduce impacts to coral reef ecosystems.'"

Helping Mother Nature Fight Fires Native Plant Landscapes and Other Fire Resistant Measures Demonstrated

We made it onto the front page of West Hawaii Today (Sunday edition) - great article recapping the Wildfire Preparedness Day event we held at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. The article also covers some of the wildfire issues communities in Hawaii face and some of the steps people can take to protect their homes and families. 

From the Source: 

'Waikoloa Village resident Melissa Newberg vividly remembers the Lalamilo fire of 2005.

Eight months pregnant, she and her family scrambled to pack up photo albums and important papers. As a fire that would ultimately consume 25,000 acres burned fiercely outside the village and helicopters buzzed overhead, the Newbergs evacuated to a friend’s house in Kailua-Kona.

“People were driving on the wrong side of the road. It was pretty chaotic,” she said. “We didn’t know if we would have a house the next day.”

The Newberg home was spared — albeit with a thick layer of ash left on the lanai.

Nine years later, Newberg and her 3-year-old son, Xavier, sat in the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. While her daughters, Kamila and Alena, placed native plants in the cinder soil nearby, Newberg cleaned up dead leaves.

It is the type of activity the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is encouraging everyone to do as the island heads into summer. It is also a cue the western mainland states would do well to follow, as drought and high fuel loads spark wildfire fears on the national level.

The Melia Street wildfire safety park was part of a larger demonstration by the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization that landscaping with native plants can reduce fire risks around the home. It was a centerpiece of a wildfire awareness event Saturday that also featured informational booths, art projects, presentations and tours of fire engines and emergency vehicles.

Piper Heath, 11, and Sai Cordeiro, 12, were part of a group of youngsters planting seedlings at the park Saturday. They are both members of Waikoloa Future Foresters, a group created three years ago by the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative to bring area children in contact with reforestation, fire prevention and other aspects of conservation. Part of their task is to understand the park, help take care of its plants and give tours to the public.

Heath and Cordeiro happened to be planting Cordeiro’s favorite plant, the ihi, a native succulent.

“It’s like a cactus. It holds water,” he explained. “The more water it gets, the more it holds. I like the shape of the leaves and the yellow flowers it gives.”

The park, with plantings of ilima papa, wiliwili and a ground cover called pohinahina, is meant to demonstrate that fire-resistant native plants can be low maintenance, said Pablo Beimler, education and outreach coordinator for Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization.

“These plants are already adapted to the ecosystem and the minerals in the soil,” Beimler said.

They represent a less colorful but wiser choice from a fire safety perspective than the flamboyant bougainvillea, which tends to leave a lot of flammable debris. Beimler said that picking up woody debris from the yard is one of the best ways residents can help prevent fires.

“Where the wind collects all the debris is also where the wind will take the embers,” he said. “That’s scary and it’s not a connection people always make.”

Residents should also put fine screens over their vents — especially at the foundation level — as a key step to keep burning embers from blowing in, Beimler said. Other measures include keeping a “defensible space,” of area cleared of dead vegetation in a 30-foot perimeter around the home — plus making sure grass, trees and other vegetation are trimmed.

A general awareness of the conditions on the surrounding landscape, and a family action plan in time of fire are also important, Beimler said.

“Fire is a mauka to makai issue,” he said. “It affects everything.”

The problem of fire isn’t limited just to ruined forests and homes, said Elizabeth Pickett, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization’s executive director. Erosion from the exposed land washes downhill and can smother reefs, bringing environmental consequences into the ocean.

“We’re still dealing with the dust and sediment issues from the 2005 and 2007 fires,” she said.'

"Tom Loomis, with the Hawaii Wildlife Management Organization, helps Alena Newberg, 7, as they plant native plants at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park." Credit - West Hawaii Today

"Tom Loomis, with the Hawaii Wildlife Management Organization, helps Alena Newberg, 7, as they plant native plants at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park." Credit - West Hawaii Today

"Firefighter Chuck Segawa gives 12-year-old Micah Canionero a tour of a fire truck during the day of fire preparedness at Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park on Saturday." Credit - West Hawaii Today

"Firefighter Chuck Segawa gives 12-year-old Micah Canionero a tour of a fire truck during the day of fire preparedness at Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park on Saturday." Credit - West Hawaii Today

"Firefighter Paul Higgins gives keiki a tour of a fire truck during the day of fire preparedness at Waikoloa Dryland Safety Park on Saturday." Credit - West Hawaii Today

"Firefighter Paul Higgins gives keiki a tour of a fire truck during the day of fire preparedness at Waikoloa Dryland Safety Park on Saturday." Credit - West Hawaii Today

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday in Waikoloa

From the Source: 

"Big Islanders are invited to activities Saturday in Waikoloa in observance of the first Wildfire Community Preparedness Day focused on reducing the risk of wildfire damage in Hawaii by encouraging community volunteers, neighborhoods and individual homeowners to join forces in creating safer places to live. 

State Farm, the National Fire Protection Association and Fire Adapted Communities are cosponsoring the event.

From 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., there will be volunteer gardening and wildfire workshops, field tours and lots of info and tips, plus Smokey the Bear, at the Dryland Safety Park in Waikoloa Village, said coordinator Pablo Beimler, of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.

For more information, visit www.hawaiiwildfire.org, email Beimler at pablo@hawaiiwildfire.org, or call 885-0900.

On Wildfire Preparedness Day, communities across the nation are rallying to host a variety of events to help raise wildfire awareness, promote collaboration and bring neighbors together to work on projects that protect homes, neighborhoods and entire communities.

'We at HWMO are organizing a Fire Awareness, Prevention &Work Day event at the Waikoloa Dryland Safety Park in Waikoloa Village,' said Beimler. 'We will be holding a volunteer work session in the morning followed by a series of wildfire preparedness workshops, field tours and activities. All ages are welcome, and the event is free.'

At HWMO headquarters in Waimea, volunteers recently received 10,000 copies of the first-ever Hawaii version of the 'Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.'"

"Fire fighters work to control a brush fire near mile marker 50 on Hawaii Belt Road (Highway 11) in Kau Tuesday afternoon." Credit: Hollyn Johnson/Tribune-Herald 

"Fire fighters work to control a brush fire near mile marker 50 on Hawaii Belt Road (Highway 11) in Kau Tuesday afternoon." Credit: Hollyn Johnson/Tribune-Herald 

Fun Fire Preparedness Education Day Planned at Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park on May 3

We made it onto a full page spread on North Hawaii News about our upcoming Wildfire Preparedness Day event at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park this Saturday, May 3rd!

From the Source: 

"Fire takes no holiday, and the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is organizing a day of fire preparedness at the Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park in Waikoloa Village on Saturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Melia Street in Waikoloa. Activities include a firefighter meet and greet, student-led garden tours, a keiki activity station, and a visit from Smokey the Bear. Wildfire preparedness workshops and guest speakers will also be on hand to teach community members how they can help prevent wildfires and protect their homes.

'It’s the first ever National Wildfire Preparedness Day,' said Pablo Beimler, education and outreach coordinator for Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. 'The idea is to have communities from all over the nation participate in wildfire awareness and hold these events. This is a great way to show that Hawaii has wildfire issues and that communities are taking charge and getting involved.'

'Almost all of the fires in the state of Hawaii are from humans,' said Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of HWMO. 'Whether it’s intentional or accidental they’re all human caused. Preventing ignition is key. Fire goes where there’s fuel, and we consider fuel to be vegetation, leaf litter, tree debris, branches and anything that’s combustible. It’s important to maintain your landscaping. You want your house 10 feet clear of debris, dried grass, or brush. You want your grass short. You also want to harden your home. By that we mean converting as much as you can around your home to non-combustible building materials. For example replacing wood fences with stone, or replacing wooden shingles with metal roofing.'

Waikoloa is the most fire prone subdivision, not just on Hawaii Island, but in the entire state.

'Waikoloa is vulnerable to large-scale, destructive wildfires like the one in 2005 that could have wiped out the entire village,' said Beimler. 'The idea is to really ramp up our efforts in Waikoloa and let people know there are things they can do to protect their homes and prevent wildfires.'

HWMO is anxious about the upcoming fire season and hopes that educational events like National Wildfire Preparedness Day will help educate the community and subsequently prevent possible ignitions.

'With all the recent rain and all the recent vegetative growth, we are getting really nervous about the upcoming fire season,' said Pickett. 'There’s predicted drought conditions, and although we have a lot of rain right now, in the future it looks like the vegetation will likely dry out and it will be at high risk of wildfire. We want to get the message out early on.'

Research shows that Hawaii has a higher proportion of fire-prone acres than any of the 17 western-most states. HWMO educates the community by raising awareness through proactive planning and prevention efforts. They created the first and only fire preparedness demonstration garden in Hawaii, The Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. The garden teaches community members how to reduce the impact of wildfires through defensible space, firewise landscaping and fire resistant building materials. This garden is primarily made up of low-maintenance, native Hawaiian species that are resistant to drought, wind, and heat.

'A fire can only go where things can burn,' said Pickett. 'The idea is to interrupt that process and make the fire go somewhere else - not straight toward your house. You can do that by managing your vegetation, your grass and your leaf litter. It’s important to do all that ahead of time so the fire can’t damage your home.'

The best defense against wildfire is preparation and prevention. Saturday’s event hopes to provide lessons that will assist the community with protecting their property.

HWMO is working with the following organizations to put on this event: Hawaii Fire Department, Waikoloa Community Association, Waikoloa Community Emergency Response Team, Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative, Waikoloa Outdoor Circle, and Malama Kai Foundation.

For more information contact, pablo@hawaiiwildfire.org or visit Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization at www.hawaiiwildfire.org."

Above: Community members from Waikoloa Village pose for a photo after hard work removing weeds from the garden on March 7 after a long period of rainfall. Credit - HWMO

Above: Community members from Waikoloa Village pose for a photo after hard work removing weeds from the garden on March 7 after a long period of rainfall. Credit - HWMO