wildfire impacts

Hawaii Is Losing As Much Of Its Land To Wildfires As Any Other State

Wildfire researcher Clay Trauernicht says the African grasses and shrubs that have taken over Hawaii’s ag lands need to be managed to control wildfires.

Wildfire researcher Clay Trauernicht says the African grasses and shrubs that have taken over Hawaii’s ag lands need to be managed to control wildfires.

This Honolulu Civil Beat Article does a wonderful job of describing the wildfire situation Hawaii is currently facing. With as high of a percentage of land that is burned every year as the notoriously fire-prone western United States, Hawaii has a big issue on its hands.

This Civil Beat article goes into the environmental conditions that have resulted in such a dramatic increase in wildfires throughout the state, as well as the economic and historical reasons that have helped cause these current conditions to exist. Hawaii’s past has consisted of large-scale land alterations, heavy impacts on fragile endemic and native species with the introduction of invasive competition into the ecosystem, as well as dramatic increases in human population over time. All of these factors, along with many other environmental variables currently in flux with the rapidly changing climate play a part in Hawaii’s fire situation. It is becoming increasingly imperative that fire fuel loads are managed throughout the state, and that we all share the knowledge of how to live alongside this increasing threat of wildfire.

From the article:

“University of Hawaii professor Camilo Mora recently reviewed 12,000 scientific studies and found at least 30 different types of impacts of climate change related to fires, hitting health, food, water, infrastructure, security and the economy. Wildfires affect mental health and spread disease, degrade air quality and harm coral reefs, threaten freshwater supplies and deter tourists”

-Civil Beat Author Nathan Eagle

We recommend reading the Honolulu Civil Beat Article to take a deeper dive on all of these dimensions to wildfire in Hawaiʻi.

Spark from hammer caused California's largest wildfire, agency says

The Mendocino Fire Burned for weeks before it was contained.

The Mendocino Fire Burned for weeks before it was contained.

The Ranch Fire was Californiaʻs largest wildfire at 410,203 acres, and It was started from one tiny spark. The Mendicino Fire Complex that raged during the summer of last year was multiple fires that ignited at the same time in close proximity, heavily taxing all fire suppression resources in the area. 280 structures were destroyed in the fire complex, and the biggest fire in the dual-fire incident started due to a single spark.

From the source:

(CNN) The Ranch Fire, the largest wildfire in California history in terms of acres burned, was caused by a spark or hot metal fragment that came from a hammer driving a metal stake into the ground, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"After a meticulous and thorough investigation, CAL FIRE has determined that the Ranch Fire was caused by a spark or hot metal fragment landing in a receptive fuel bed," the news release said.

Read More about the Mendicino Fire Complex here

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.

Climate Change is Creating Catastrophic Wildfires

“Wildfires can have detrimental impacts on entire ecosystems.” Credit: Reuters / Rafael Marchante

“Wildfires can have detrimental impacts on entire ecosystems.” Credit: Reuters / Rafael Marchante

According to a recent study from Dr. Clay Trauernicht of UH CTAHR Cooperative Extension, parts of Hawaiʻi Island are at risk of an increase in up to 375% in annual fire risk due to climate change. Global warming is contributing to worsening wildfire conditions across the globe.

From the Source:

With little fanfare and scant news coverage, fire season 2019 has arrived. Firefighters are already containing blazes in several states, including ColoradoFlorida and Oklahoma, and seasonal outlooks suggest that significant wildfires are likely in parts of Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast.

While forest management and human development have increased wildfire incidence and risk, climate change has exacerbated the trend of large fires and contributed to the lengthening of the fire season, in some cases making wildfires a year-round phenomenon. In the Western U.S., climate change is a major driver behind the near doubling in burned area that we've experienced over the past 35 years, and has contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of fires, while lengthening the fire season in some regions.

HFD Responds to Five Brush Fire Calls in One Day on Oahu

Credit: KHON2

Credit: KHON2

"I would say that generally it's a little early in the season. But when you have the growth with the rain that we've had, as long as it's there. It's ready to burn," said Scot Seguirant, HFD.

Now is the time to prepare. Check out Wildfire LOOKOUT! for tips and tricks on preventing and preparing for wildfire.

From the Source:

Additional ways you can prevent these kinds of fire include only lighting matches or other kindling when there aren't windy conditions, and being aware of where you throw lighted cigarettes. Having a shovel, water and fire retardent in your yard for use can also be useful when a fire comes near your home. Finally you can protect your home and family by simply being aware of what may cause accidental fires and limiting risk factors such as a lighted barbeque pit or campfire.

Brush Fire in Kalihi Burns 15 Acres

Kalihi Fire, April 7, 2019. Credit: KITV4

Kalihi Fire, April 7, 2019. Credit: KITV4

”Heavy stands of iron wood (Casuarina equisetifolia) on this ridge get thick carpets of leaf litter and duff - fire will just slow churn through that stuff for hours.” - Dr. Clay Trauernicht on the Kalihi fire.

From the Source:

A brush fire in Kalihi and Fort Shafter burns about 15 acres. The flames came close to the Kamehameha IV Apartments, but did not damage any Kalihi valley homes this afternoon. 

Smoke and flames were seen above Kalena Drive as the fire broke out around noon. Fire crews battled the flames on the hillside for nearly four hours before getting it under control.

Wildfire Rips Along South Korea's Eastern Coast, Prompting National Emergency

Our thoughts are with those impacted by these tragic wildfires in South Korea.

“A forest fire is seen raging near buildings in Sokcho, South Korea. South Korea mobilized troops and helicopters to deal with the massive blaze that roared through forests and cities along the eastern coast.” Credit: Kangwon Ilbo / Getty Images

“A forest fire is seen raging near buildings in Sokcho, South Korea. South Korea mobilized troops and helicopters to deal with the massive blaze that roared through forests and cities along the eastern coast.” Credit: Kangwon Ilbo / Getty Images

From the Source:

South Korea is using its military to contain a large forest fire that spread quickly after igniting in Gangwon Province, along the country's east coast. Strong winds moved the blaze from city to city, prompting President Moon Jae-in to declare a national emergency.

It's being called the worst wildfire to hit South Korea in years, forcing thousands to evacuate and ravaging rural towns. Fire officials are reporting two deaths, according to the Associated Press.

In Gangwon's national forests and other woodlands, fires are common in the spring — but they usually don't spread so quickly, and they're usually confined to unpopulated areas, residents tell the Korea Herald.

500 Acre Brush Fire Behind Nanakuli Sack N Save 100% Contained

Fire behind Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Credit: KITV4

Fire behind Sack N Save in Nanakuli. Credit: KITV4

From the Source:

Honolulu firefighters say a West Oahu brush fire that burned since pre-dawn on Sunday is 100 percent contained. The fire department says 500 acres burned, and hot spots and smoke are coming from burned areas. 

HFD says strong gusty wind conditions, accessibility, and terrain are challenging fire fighters efforts. In Nanakuli, the fire came as close as 100 feet to some homes.

HFD says the fire originated in Nanakuli Valley and branched off into Waianae Valley. Throughout the day, it was an active fire that firefighters battled on multiple fronts, and with the help of the federal fire department.  

750 Trees Find New Homes in the Mountains of Waianae

“Dozens of volunteers got down and dirty to plant roughly 750 trees on Oahu’s west side.” Credit: DLNR.

“Dozens of volunteers got down and dirty to plant roughly 750 trees on Oahu’s west side.” Credit: DLNR.

Important work being done by our partners from the Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership and DLNR to reforest Waianae Kai State Forest Reserve, which will create a more resilient landscape and reduce the wildfire risk in the area. If you want to get involved with the planting events, you’re asked to contact coordinator Yumi Miyata at (808) 227-9545, or wmwpcoordinator@gmail.com.

From the Source:

“The Enterprise Urban Tree Initiative brings our employees together to volunteer in communities like Waianae that have been devastated by natural disasters, such as wildfires,” said Chris Sbarbaro, Enterprise Hawaii Vice President of External Affairs. “We support the Arbor Day Foundation and its partners in their efforts to build strong communities from the ground up and create a sustainable and inclusive future for all.”

The need to restore Oahu’s west side comes as a dry spell started to hit Nanakuli, and is likely to move toward Waianae during the normally hot and dry summer months.

“Unfortunately, wildfires have become more frequent in Waianae. The cycle of infrequent, heavy rain followed by dry, hot and windy weather creates the perfect conditions for fast-moving, intense fire. A recent fire in August 2018 burned more than 1,500 acres of the forest reserve, threatening native forests important for water recharge,” said Yumi Miyata, Waiʻanae Mountains Watershed Partnership Coordinator and Chair of Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships.

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.”

Loloa Street Wildfire in North Kona Forces Evacuations

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 11.42.19 AM.png

Fortunately the fire did not do damage or cause any casualties — with the winds blowing from the Kona Low storm, it could have been a lot worse.

From the Source:

Hawaii County Police say a fire is forcing the evacuation of North Kona Sunday.

Evacuation orders were announced shortly after noon.

Police say Loloa Street is closed in Kalaoa as crews respond, and officials suggest that drivers use alternate routes.

Hotel Wailea Luxury Resort Evacuated Due to Fast-Moving Wildfire

Brush fire that forced evacuation of luxury Maui resort is seen in background on January 6, 2019

Brush fire that forced evacuation of luxury Maui resort is seen in background on January 6, 2019

From the Source:

A luxury Maui resort was evacuated Sunday night as a fast-moving brush fire swept through Wailea, CBS Hawaii affiliate KGMB reports.  Guests and employees at Hotel Wailea, a five-star resort, were evacuated at about 8:30 p.m., almost two hours after the wind-whipped blaze started.

Hotel Wailea shut off propane tanks and police were on the property knocking on doors telling people to leave.

The American Red Cross of Hawaii opened an emergency shelter at a local community center to assist affected visitors and residents.

Wildland Fire Danger Elevated in Hawaii with Drought in Forecast

Hualalai and Puu Anahulu Fuels.JPG

From the Source:

For Hawaii, El Nino often translates into summer moisture followed by winter drought.

Drought conditions will be increasingly prevalent in the coming decades, said Clay Trauernicht, UH-Manoa wildland fire specialist and author of a study that examined how climate change will affect wildfires in Hawaii and tropical areas around the world.

The paper, published in Science of the Total Environment, not only discusses the effects of climate change on fire, but demonstrates how tracking rainfall patterns year to year can help better forecast near-term wildfire risk, including the danger that excess rainfall in advance of drought can pose to Hawaii’s vulnerable grasslands.

As for the current fire danger, Trauernicht said environmental conditions are quite similar right now to the period right before August, when a string of storms built up the fuel load and the drying islands were struck by a rash of wildland fires that burned nearly 30,000 acres.

Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said most people don’t realize the scale of Hawaii’s wildfire problem. Each year about 0.5 percent of Hawaii’s total land area burns, which is equal to or greater than the proportion burned of any other U.S. state, she said.

Pickett said 98 percent of wildfires are started by humans, most of them accidentally. People have to accept that we live in a fire-prone state and be extra careful to prevent fires, she said.

One common way to start a wildfire is from a spark or hot components of a motor vehicle. It’s the primary reason why Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park closed Mauna Loa Road.

“By reducing the number of vehicles in high-risk areas, the park can mitigate the potential for a catastrophic event,” the park said.

Pickett said there are a number of simple things folks can do: Park cars on pavement and never on dry grass. Keep yards maintained and free of debris. Be careful with equipment that could spark. Practice family emergency plans.

More tips can be found at HawaiiWildfire.org/lookout.

Lahainaluna High School Post-Fire Recovery (VIDEO)

Screenshot from the Lahainaluna Digital Media video.

Screenshot from the Lahainaluna Digital Media video.

Lahaina’s community came out in droves to help Lahainaluna High School recover from the August brushfire during Hurricane Lane. This video from Lahianaluna Digital Media will brighten your day by showing you what a community-wide resilient spirit looks like.

How One Homeowner Saved His House from the Carr Fire

Credit: FEMA

Credit: FEMA

Investing in wildfire preparedness works. Check out this wildfire risk reduction success from a FEMA excerpt from Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.

From the Source:

“Some of the wildfire mitigation measures he took during construction and maintained over the years to make his home fire-resilient included:

  • A well-maintained, simple Class A metal roof.

  • A non-combustible zone (3-5 feet wide) around the outside of the home that helped prevent embers from landing in close-by vegetation.

  • Pruned trees and low-growing cactus and succulents.

  • Boxed-in or soffited eaves with venting located at the outside edge. This makes ember intrusion more difficult.

  • Well-maintained stucco siding.

  • Accessible water and hoses labeled with reflective signs for firefighters.”

In California Wildfires, Disabled People May Be Left Behind

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

Credit: Elijah Nouvelage / Getty Images

The voices of those with disabilities need to be heard and included in all disaster preparedness planning. Here is a powerful article written by a wheelchair user who uses a ventilator on ways you can support people with disabilities as frequent natural disasters have become the worsening normal with climate change.

From the Source:

Climate change is real. Frequent natural disasters are the new normal. Right now, disabled advocates are working with communities all over the state connecting them to the help they need. Community organizations and informal networks need support coordinating services and providing direct assistance. Our lives are at stake and thoughts and prayers are not enough. Below are some ways you can support people with disabilities and the general population during these wildfires and the ones to come in the near future.

1. Ability Tools is a program of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, providing medical equipment, daily living aids, and technology to people in shelters who need them. They are currently taking donations, and you can contact them via Facebook or by calling 1-800-390-2699 (1-800-900-0706 TTY). Support them by donating money or equipment in good condition.

2. Donate to the Portlight Strategies/Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, a national organization on disability rights, accessibility and inclusion related to disaster operations. It manages a 24-hour disaster hotline for for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs (1-800-626-4959 or info@disasterstrategy.org)

3. Give money to Mask Oakland, a volunteer group of queer disabled people delivering free N95 respirator masks to Oakland’s most vulnerable. They use donations to buy more masks and post receipts of all their purchases. Twitter: @MaskOakland; Venmo: @maskoakland.

4. Donate to the Northern California Fire Relief Fund by the North Valley Community Foundation to raise money to support the operations of organizations sheltering evacuees of the Camp Fire.

5. Give to Supplying Aid to Victims of Emergency (SAVE) program from the California Fire Foundation, which gives $100 gift cards to people impacted by wildfires including firefighters and civilians.

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.

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.”

Repeated Natural Disasters Pummel Hawaii’s Farms, Affecting Macadamia Nuts, Taro, Papaya, Flower Harvests

“An image by NOAA’s GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane when it was about 300 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island on Aug. 22. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)”

“An image by NOAA’s GOES-15 satellite shows Hurricane Lane when it was about 300 miles south of Hawaii's Big Island on Aug. 22. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)”

Farmers in the Pacific on the front-lines of climate-related natural disasters such as cyclones and wildfires. We must do all we can to ensure our farmlands are protected from these growing threats to our food and people’s livelihoods.

If you are a farmer or own/operate large lands in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, check out the Pacific Fire Exchange pre-fire planning resources: http://www.pacificfireexchange.org/research-publications/category/pre-fire-planning?rq=pre-fire%20plan

From the Source:

As Hawaii begins to recover from the tropical cyclone that dumped more than three feet of rain onto the Big Island last week, farmers here are just starting to assess the damage to their crops. Lane landed yet another blow to Hawaii’s agriculture industry after an already difficult year of reckoning with Mother Nature. Flooding, excess moisture and pounding rains could hurt macadamia nut, coffee and flower harvests for farmers on the east side of the island, which bore the brunt of the storm.

Lane also impacted small farms on the island of Maui, where the storm’s winds fanned and spread wildfires across hundreds of acres in Lahaina.

In the days leading up to the hurricane, beekeeper Eldon Dorsett prepared his bee hives for the coming weather, putting heavy weights on the top of the boxes to keep them from blowing away.

Dorsett arrived at the farm Saturday morning and found 15 of his hives burned to a crisp — the only evidence of their existence was a few nails and screws on the still-smoldering ground.

“It was a rough day,” Dorsett said. “The farm was like the day after Armageddon.”

“No matter what happens, we need to keep moving forward,” said Haraguchi-Nakayama, whose family operates Hanalei Taro. “People in Hawaii are resilient by coming together as a community during times of crisis. Farmers are vulnerable to so many things beyond our control. Farmers need to be resilient in order to continue farming.”