Brand New: HWMO Projects Map
Click on the map above to get a glimpse of all of the projects we are involved in across Hawaii!
HWMO's 5 Tips for the Upcoming Fire Season
Check out our latest PSA regarding how you can prepare for the upcoming wildfire season, courtesy of the Waikoloa Breeze (March 2014 issue). Click on the picture on the right to enlarge it.
To view the entire Waikoloa Breeze issue for March, click on the button below:
Stay Hot on our
HCC Career and Job Fair
When: March 17, 2014, 10a-2p
Where: Hawaii Community College Cafeteria (Manono Campus)
2014 California/Nevada/Hawaii Forest Fire Seminar & Training
When: April 9-11, 2014
Where: Waikoloa Beach Resort, Waikoloa
Hawai'i Conservation Conference
When: July 15-17, 2014
Where: Hawai'i Convention Center, Honolulu
Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium Poster Session 2/21/14
Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization and Pacific Fire Exchange partnered up to present a poster about Hawaii's wildfire problem at this year's Nahelehele Dryland Forest Symposium. A couple hundred people from a variety of different organizations involved in various degrees of conservation work attended the event, many of whom stopped by to visit our poster. Clay Trauernicht (UH Co-op Extension and PFX), Pablo Beimler (HWMO and PFX), and Ilene Grossman (HWMO) spoke to visitors about the many projects HWMO and PFX are involved in and how those projects are helping mitigate Hawaii's wildfire problem. One of the highlight's of the booth was the presentation of the most recent fire history maps, printed out on a large poster board. At one point, a retired HFD firefighter stopped by and interacted with the poster by sharing stories and lessons learned about specific points on the map. By teaming up for this year's Dryland Forest Symposium, PFX and HWMO are continuing to forge a stronger partnership in order to amplify our outreach efforts.
BIWCG Meeting 2/13/14
The Big Island Wildfire Coordinating Group (BIWCG) met for its quarterly meeting at the DOFAW office in Hilo. Members represented the following agencies: DOFAW, USFWS, HCC, HFD, NPS, Firewise Hawaii, HWMO, and PFX. Wayne Ching (DOFAW), lead organizer of this year's CNH Spring event kicked off the meeting with an update on the upcoming event's proceedings and logistics. Clay Trauernicht of PFX then gave a review of the recent Hawaii Wildfire Risk Assessment organized by Ching a few weeks ago. The risk assessment was developed for the 17 western-most states (including Hawaii and Alaska) using a variety of inputs such as fuel models, topography and historical ignition points. Clay emphasized that the most striking message from the assessment was that Hawaii showed the largest amount of burnable acres out of all 17 states. Such striking data and maps will be useful in conveying the severity of Hawaii's wildfire issue to community members, land managers, first responders, and decision-makers. The PFX team also presented the group with a rough draft of Trauernicht's Hawaii Wildfire Problem Statement in newsletter-type form along with a variety of new templates for upcoming PFX fact sheets. BIWCG members were enthusiastic and appreciative to see the work done by PFX and HWMO, which could not have been done without partner support. Elizabeth Pickett of PFX and HWMO and Clay Trauernicht of PFX and UH Co-op Extension were then invited to represent their respective agencies at the State Fire Council meeting to present the problem statement to the group.
West Maui CWPP Community Meetings 1/22-29/2014
West Maui is at a high risk of wildfire due to unmitigated fire fuels, limited community engagement in the wildfire issue, and under-addressed pre- and post-fire planning and preparedness. HWMO is taking a proactive approach to protect West Maui's natural resources and communities by developing a West Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) that will help secure funds for wildfire mitigation projects in the near future. CWPPs are unique in that they require a significant amount of community input and involvement. In order to understand, prioritize, and address community concerns and possible solutions, HWMO held a series of 6 community meetings in Lahaina, Wailuku, and Waihee. As part of a two-way communication process, HWMO shared information through a presentation about the CWPP and by displaying large maps of West Maui's fire history and subdivision-level hazard assessments (developed by HWMO). Towards the end of the meeting, members stood in front of a giant satellite image map of West Maui to place stickers on areas of significant interest (watersheds, their home, their favorite park, etc.). The meetings were a great success judging by the vast amount of in-depth input we received. We thank all of you who have taken part in the process! There are many more opportunities to take action as an interested community member as this is only the beginning of an ongoing process of addressing West Maui's wildfire issue.
Waimea Cherry Blossom Festival 2/1/14
This year's Cherry Blossom Festival could not have happened on a more beautiful day! Fresh snow on Mauna Kea and newly blossoming cherry blossoms welcomed locals and visitors to Waimea's celebrated event. We at Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization gratefully received a wonderful location to set-up our booth this year: on a bright green lawn a few steps away from the main stage. Over 100 or so visitors stopped by the booth to learn about the latest projects we are involved in, including the West Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Our new fire history maps were also a highlight for visitors, many of whom were shocked to see the large number of ignitions on the wet sides of the islands. To top off the day, a plethora of smiling keiki visited the booth to collect Smokey gear, including new Smokey frisbees that were put to use immediately!
West Maui CWPP Meetings with West Maui Fire Task Force & West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership (WMMWP) 11/19-11/20/13
HWMO started ramping up its West Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan efforts by holding meetings with the West Maui Fire Task Force and the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership (WMMWP). In order for us to better understand the issues at hand in West Maui, members from these groups provided input regarding wildfire concerns of theirs and possible resolutions for those specific issues. These meetings were an important early step in this giant collaborative effort that will later involve a wider range of community input. In the end, the West Maui CWPP will identify, prioritize, and bring funding towards projects to reduce the threat of wildfire to West Maui communities. As described by our own Elizabeth Pickett in a recent Lahaina News article: "CWPPs are meant to tie into existing or planned projects. Many communities are developing disaster plans or long-range community plans, and the CWPP is meant to complement those plans. "It will be a useful tool for community members to help make West Maui's neighborhoods and natural areas fire-safe. Wildfires tie into many natural resource, municipal and community issues, so this is an important opportunity for communities to learn, have their voices heard and get involved."
Waikoloa Parade & Banjy's Keiki Festival 12/07/2013
As another example of HWMO's strengthening partnerships, we connected with DOFAW's Smokey the Bear for this year's Waikoloa Parade and Banjy's Keiki Festival. A full day begun with Smokey marching along the parade route, only to fall behind due to the constant inflow of fan photo-ops. Not only kids, but adults were just as happy to take photos with Smokey, who in turn reminded all that "only YOU can prevent forest fires." The fanfare continued into the Banjy's restaurant at the Keiki Festival's Craft Fair. Pablo Beimler, Education and Outreach Coordinator for HWMO, set up a booth with all of our outreach materials, including new Firewise brochures and HWMO overview flyers and a brand new poster-board layout. Dozens of keiki stopped by the booth to collect Smokey gear and a great deal of adults received brief lessons about fire safety and the newest updates from HWMO and PFX. All in all, another successful, exciting outreach day, thanks much in part to Smokey's generosity!
Ocean Warriors Fire Lesson 10/30/2013
HWMO collaborated with the Ocean Warriors program for a Fire Day in Waikoloa. Elizabeth Pickett and Pablo Beimler met with Tom Loomis and Maja Sommerfeld from Ocean Warriors to give a lesson on fire ecology and issues relevant to the Waikoloa region. Wildfire issues in Waikoloa are some of the most rampant on the island and are tied into ocean issues due to post-fire erosion and runoff events. The middle school students also enjoyed an informative guest lecture by Jen Lawson of one of HWMO's many local partner organizations: Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative. Jen touched on the importance of restoring native dryland forest vegetation to help combat the vicious fire cycle that has severely reduced the populations and chances for the repopulation of native dryland species. As part of the concluding events to help the students visualize the fire cycle, we put on a game of "fire tag" which the energized kids thoroughly enjoyed.
Kona Fire Prevention Week 10/26/2013
Once a year, the entire HWMO team gathers together for an outreach event. Saturday, October 26th, 2013, was that day, which was Fire Prevention Week in Kona at the Wal-Mart parking lot. By showing up in full force, we were able to reach out to a great number and variety of visiting families, ranging from local to mainlanders to even those from Japan. We gave out a stack of "Ready, Set, Go" brochures, among other important fire safety guides; And, of course, the kids walked home with a collection of our Smokey goods. Some great events occurred throughout the day including a simulation put on by HFD firefighters demonstrating a live-action Jaws of Life "rescue," which kept the crowd on their toes. Afterwards, the annual Bucket Brigade Competition was held, featuring 16 teams of all ages and backgrounds. HWMO happened to be one of those teams, and we ended up landing a 5th place finish. Our team was as cohesive and fluid as ever, but we fell short to those who know how to put out fires best: HFD and their staff.
Parker School Presentation and Workshop 10/25/2013
The HWMO team traveled down the road from our office to Parker School for a "Make A Difference Day" event. Our Board Treasurer, Carolyn Stewart, and Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, teamed up to give presentations to a class of high school students regarding watershed and fire issues, respectively. Afterwards, even given a long day of field work the students endured, the students were enthusiastic enough to join us for an outdoor activity. Pablo Beimler and Tom Loomis set up diaramas that demonstrated direct/indirect point source pollution. We had students simulate pollution events ranging from leaky septic tanks to agricultural runoff to post-fire erosion. The students not only learned a great deal in such a short period of time, they had quite a blast pouring cocoa powder and Kool-aid ("pollutants") into the model and watching the unfortunate aftermath. If only it were as easy to start our watersheds from scratch the way we did by simply pouring the "pollutants" out of the "sea" and giving the diaramas a nice rinse.
Hilo Fire Prevention Week 10/4/2013
HWMO's Pablo Beimler set up a booth representing HWMO and PFX down in Hilo for this year's Fire Prevention Week. The theme for the event, "Prevent Kitchen Fires," did not go unnoticed, as local firefighters helped kids put out demonstration stove fires with fire extinguishers. Other exciting demonstrations included a "Jaws of Life" car rescue and a helicopter rescue right there on the shore of Bayfront Park. Although it rained throughout the day, a few hundred people (mostly families with their kids) made it out to the event. We passed out a number of "Ready, Set, Go" preparedness guides, NFPA pamphlets, and a great deal of Smokey the Bear gear. We also spoke to a few fire fighters about the Pacific Fire Exchange, which they took great interest in. All in all, another successful event that left the kids more aware about fire safety and with a smile on their face.
Wiliwili Festival 9/14/2013
HWMO’s newest addition to the organization, Pablo Beimler, and Nalani Ludwig spent the day at the Waikoloa School handing out information regarding fire awareness to community members. The event, hosted by the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative (WDFI), attracted a couple hundred people who took interest in the important mission of saving our rare Dryland Forests! Wildfire is one of the biggest threats to the dry forest, and WDFI is an important HWMO partner.
HWMO's 5 Tips for Upcoming Fire Season 3/1/14
Check out our latest PSA regarding how you can prepare for the upcoming fire season, courtesy of the Waikoloa Breeze. "There’s no prettier time to be living in Hawaii with the recent powdery snowfall on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and the hills becoming greener and greener each passing day. However, through our fire prevention lenses, there’s no better time to be mindful of the buildup of flammable vegetation that will pose a significant fire threat in the upcoming fire season. Here are five things to do around your home to reduce wildfire risk: - Limb your trees to within at least 6 feet off the ground to reduce “ladder fuels.” - Remove leaf litter and other debris that accumulate around the building, under vegetation, in gutters, and other collection areas. - Weed around the property regularly, especially areas that a lawn mower is not appropriate for (tall dry grasses, rocky terrain, etc.) - Remove flammable materials from underneath the house, decks, porches, and lanai. - Plant native, drought-tolerant plants around your home. By doing so, you can beautify your property while also protecting your home from wildfire ignition and spread, perpetuating an important natural and cultural resource, and requiring less maintenance. For examples of plants we recommend, you can visit our garden at the end of Melia St. " - Waikoloa Breeze
Hapuna Gets Beach Clean Up Station 3/1/14
Our young, enthusiastic Waikoloa Garden care-takers and fire experts from Ocean Warriors (Malama Kai Foundation) help install Beach Clean Up Stations at Hapuna Beach State Park. Mahalo for your hard work! "The wooden boxes contain heavy foil coffee bags, typically tossed by coffee shops but repurposed as garbage bags for beach users to pick up and fill with refuse. Pictures, drawn by area students, decorate the outside. Each station costs about $300 to make and install, Iglehart said.Maintaining the boxes, particularly replenishing the stock of coffee bags, is a task that will fall to volunteers. Several groups of volunteers have already stepped up, Iglehart said, including the Malama Kai Foundation’s Ocean Warriors project, which designed and built the boxes, collected the coffee bags, designed and printed informational signs and created the artwork to decorate the boxes. The Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel has been saving coffee bags for about a year to donate to the project, Iglehart said. Several other community groups and some high school students in South Kohala have expressed interest in helping restock the boxes, she added. 'It has been such a fun and rewarding opportunity for the Ocean Warriors students to be involved in a project that highlights their involvement in marine protection and their artwork, and also provides important information to members of their own community about how most marine debris begins as beach litter — something we can do our part to help,' Malama Kai Foundation’s Elizabeth Pickett said in an email." ” - West Hawaii Today
My Job: Battling Invasive Species in Hawaii 3/1/14
System planner for the Hawaii Natural Area Reserves System, Emma Yuen, mentions wildfire as one of the biggest challenges that Hawaii faces. "Biggest Challenge: The environment is often underfunded and there is enormous pressure from invasive species and wildfire in Hawaii." "Quote: Hawaii’s forests are not only beautiful and important for tourism, but they are critical for stopping erosion and retaining our water supply, economic benefits that a lot of people don’t know about.” - Hawaii Business
Public Input Sought for West Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan 1/16/14
The buzz for the West Maui Community Wildfire Protection Plan community meetings this month keeps building! "Lance De Silva, Maui forest management supervisor with the state Department of Land & Natural Resources' Division of Forestry and Wildlife, emphasized that a CWPP isn't just another federal study. 'A CWPP is a community-based 'roots' process to outline wildfire risks to a community and to catalyze projects that can reduce those risks. In West Maui, we need to reduce our risks from mauka to makai. This is an important opportunity for communities to have a say over the priorities in the plan and to seek funds for the wildfire mitigation projects that residents themselves identify. Invest your time to protect your investments.' Elizabeth Pickett, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization executive director, said 'CWPPs are meant to tie into existing or planned projects. Many communities are developing disaster plans or long-range community plans, and the CWPP is meant to complement those plans. 'It will be a useful tool for community members to help make West Maui's neighborhoods and natural areas fire-safe. Wildfires tie into many natural resource, municipal and community issues, so this is an important opportunity for communities to learn, have their voices heard and get involved.'" - Lahaina News
Killing with Kindness 12/31/13
A nice example of a large landowner in Oahu taking charge and being a steward of his own land by reviving native or noninvasive plants and, in turn, animals: "Already, these three and various other volunteers seem to be making a difference: there are signs of hope in the forest. In meadows thinned of invasive trees and shrubs, new shoots of indigenous koa trees are sprouting, along with the flowering mountain naupaka and the palaa fern. The bright yellow kookoolau, a flower found only in Hawaii, is flourishing here, too... Still, Mr. Zweng worries about his own mortality and how many years he has left to work in the forest. He dreams of the day the land is restored enough that he might see a bright red apapane or an orange-and-red iiwi, native birds that haven’t been in evidence in the valley for years. Because in all likelihood, he said, the true verdict on his work will come not from environmentalists or the community, but from nature: 'Nature will tell us we’ve made a difference.'"" - New York Times
Big Island Brush Fire Contained 11/26/13
"State firefighters have contained a wildfire that burned nearly 600 acres on the Big Island. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Tuesday the grassland fire in the Puu Anahulu Game Management Area was fully contained by noon." - Hawaii News Now
Large Brush Fire Still Smoldering in Schofield Barracks 10/23/13
"U.S. Army Wildland fire crews, the Honolulu Fire Department and crews from the marines battled a brush fire at a training range on Schofield Barracks Wednesday. The fire started Tuesday due to the rekindling of a fire in the same area that began October 15. The original blaze was 100 percent contained Sunday evening with no visible smoke or hot spots, the military said." - Hawaii News Now
Second Wildfire Discovered Near Keanakolu 10/9/13
"State fire crews working this weekend to mop-up a fire in a remote section of the Hilo Forest Reserve near Keanakolu found another small fire below a fenced unit on the Humuula Trail. The combined size of both fires is 3 acres. However, because the grass was green in the new area there was not a clean burn. As it dries out, it is re-igniting and burning, due to the high organic content in the soil." - KPUA
Geographer: Drought, Fires Impact Ability of Amazon to Hold Carbon Dioxide 2/21/14
"Fires in the Amazon could jeopardize the forest's ability to soak up carbon dioxide emissions even as deforestation there slows down, according to a Penn State geographer. In an invited commentary in the Feb. 6 edition of Nature, Jennifer Balch, assistant professor of geography, noted that dry weather conditions, coupled with fires, may mean that over time the Amazon forest will lose its ability to take in more carbon dioxide than it releases — going from being a carbon sink to a source." - Penn State News
California's Drought Heightens Fear of Fire Season 2/21/14
"There is no relief in sight from the historic drought ravaging every corner of California, and where there's drought, there's fire. In the thick of winter and normally wet months, 545 fires have broken out so far this year, burning 1,142 acres. That is a staggering 330 percent increase in fires over the same Jan. 1 to Feb. 15 period last year and a 150 percent jump in burned acreage... Current conditions are as severe as during the hottest summer months, and Cal Fire is bracing for the worst. It has already brought in 125 additional firefighters, who normally come on board when fire season starts in late May in the North and in June in Southern California... There is enough water to fight fires now, [Capt. Michael] Mohler said, but he added a note of warning to the state’s residents and urged them to conserve supplies. 'We’re reminding California residents that not only is it important to save water for the environment and human consumption but for firefighting,' he said." - Al-Jazeera America
Technology Tracks Crew Through the Fog of Wildfire 2/7/14
"For crews fighting wildfires, the ability to get accurate information quickly is crucial. A breakdown in communication was one factor in a fire that killed 19 firefighters in Arizona last year, and in the deaths of two Florida firefighters in Arizona in 2011. Florida officials hope to address some of those communication problems with a new tracking system designed to keep tabs on crews in the field.Florida officials hope to address some of those communication problems with a new tracking system designed to keep tabs on crews in the field... "'When everything is happening ... a lot of times the firefighters try very hard to keep their communications very short because they know the radio traffic is heavy,' he adds. 'And sometimes by doing that they miss the opportunities to thoroughly communicate what they need to.' The tracking system, on the other hand, can transmit important information in real time, without the need for voice communication." - NPR
Devastating Australian Bushfires as Seen from Space 2/10/14
"Bushfires are continuing to rage across parts of Australia’s state of Victoria today despite the arrival of milder conditions. You can see them in the image above from NASA’s Aqua satellite. Massive plumes of smoke stream from fires burning in the eastern part of the state, as well as just north of the city of Melbourne. Red dots mark spots where the satellite sensor detected fire... The region has been experiencing hot and windy conditions that have raised the fire risk in Victoria to its highest level since 2009, when fires killed 173 people." - Discover
Conservation is No Joke in Drought-Ridden California 2/7/14
The case for more drought-tolerant (and Firewise) landscaping has never been clearer. Hawaii is also suffering from drought conditions, so the lessons from California can certainly apply here. "Landscape irrigation accounts for more than 50 percent of water used by a single-family residence, according to Sarah Foley, deputy director of the California Urban Water Conservation Council. 'This is why so much effort is being made now on reduction of outdoor use,' she said in an email to Al Jazeera. 'That’s really the biggest area that needs to be changed,” said Brostrom, of the state’s Department of Water Resources. “It hasn’t been emphasized enough. People will think of taking shorter showers, but when sprinklers go off, they’re the equivalent of 20 shower heads in their yards.'" - Al Jazeera America
Brushfires in Australia Deadlier, More Destructive and Worse to Come 2/2/14
"BUSHFIRES are almost twenty times more deadly and eighty times more destructive than a century ago - and experts warn the devastation will continue to grow as urban sprawl pushes further into bushland. Exclusive analysis by News Corp Australia has revealed the true extent of the devastating toll caused by decades of bushfires. In today's money, the combined damage caused by bushfires over the past 90 years is almost $7 billion. And $2.6 billion of this damage was caused in the past 13 years." - News.co.au
Half a Decade After Black Saturday, Towns are Still Rebuilding 2/3/14
A very engaging, interactive, and creative webpage detailing the long-term physical and psychological effects of catastrophic wildfires on communities in Australia. Definitely worth spending some time scrolling through! "TODAY the Herald Sun begins a series of reports on Victoria's bushfire-affected communities five years on from Black Saturday. We speak to survivors who recount their courageous stories, meet a town that is rising from the ashes, and remember those we lost." - Herald Sun News
Wildfire Rages in Forest Outside of Los Angeles, Residents Evacuated 1/16/14
Driest year in California's recorded history and notorious Santa Ana winds create a recipe for an early fire season - a VERY early fire season. "GLENDORA, Calif. » Homes burned in a wildfire threatening neighborhoods in dangerously dry foothills of Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains today, fanned by gusty Santa Ana winds that spit embers into the city below. Residents who awakened in the pre-dawn darkness to see flames approaching were ordered to evacuate. Television images showed several structures engulfed in flames in a neighborhood abutting Angeles National Forest, just north of the San Gabriel Valley community of Glendora. Homes are nestled in canyons and among rugged ridges that made an accurate assessment difficult. At least 2 1/2 square miles of dry brush were charred in the wilderness area about 25 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles."