Crew for Second HI-SEAS Mission Announced – Next Extended Simulation of Mars Exploration Begins March 28

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has announced the crew for the second mission of the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The next extended simulation of Mars exploration here on Earth begins March 28.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

“The upcoming mission is focused on the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for the next three HI-SEAS missions planned for 2014 and 2015.  “Hawai‘i provides a unique setting to simulate the challenging conditions for human exploration to Mars. We have selected a strong crew for our next four-month study.”

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

HI-SEAS crew members were required have “astronaut-like characteristics,” including the ability to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination and undergraduate training as a scientist or engineer. The youngest crew member is 26; the oldest is 60 years old.  Like the astronaut mission specialists they represent, each participant is expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat.

The six crew members and the reserve (alternate) member are:

  • Ross Lockwood – A PhD candidate in condensed matter physics at the University of Alberta. Ross is from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Casey Stedman – An officer in the US Air Force Reserve. Born in Vermont, Casey now considers Washington his home.
  • Ronald Williams – Director of the Neuropsychology Department at Fort Wayne Neurological Center, Indiana. Ron holds a PhD in Neuropsychology and is from Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Tiffany Swarmer – Research assistant studying human factors and performance for long-duration space missions at the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory.  Tiffany was born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
  • Lucie Poulet – A PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems at the German Aerospace Center.  Lucie designs hybrid lighting systems for greenhouses to enhance plant growth and is from the Lorraine region of France.
  • Anne Caraccio – A NASA researcher developing a method of turning waste from space missions into useable gases for fuel/propulsion, environmental control, and life support systems. Anne is from Bellmore, New York.
  • (Reserve crew member) James Sakai, a mechanical engineer and Captain in the US Army Reserve, is from Rupert, Idaho.

During the upcoming study, researchers from outside of the HI-SEAS habitat will monitor the six crew members isolated inside the solar-powered dome at a remote site at 8,000 feet elevation on the slopes of Mauna Loa.  The researchers will evaluate the crew’s communications strategies, crew workload and job-sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches to determine the most important factors for the success of a long-duration space mission.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

This mission follows on the heels of a successful 2013 Mars food study, which simulated the experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and compared two types of food systems:  crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared.

More information, photos, and full biographies for the 2014 crew members are available on the HI-SEAS website at http://hi-seas.org/.  Members of the media can download high-resolution photos from the previous HI-SEAS mission at:  http://go.hawaii.edu/GQ

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org/

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Public Invited to the Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival

The public is invited to the 7th annual University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival on Sunday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Hilo’s Bayfront Beach Park.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This free, event is hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Pacific Island Programs for Exploring Science (PIPES) in partnership with the County of Hawaiʻi, EPSCoR Hawaiʻi IMUA III, UH Hilo Student Activities Council, UH Hilo Student Association, Board of Media Broadcasting, Board of Student Publications, and the University of Hawai’i Sea Grant.

Since its debut as Ocean Day in 2007, the festival has become a popular community event, drawing crowds in excess of 2,000 participants. Volunteer Coordinator Amelie Sterling says the event also serves as an important learning resource for students.

“Ocean Day is a great volunteer opportunity for students to gain a service learning experience as well as enhance their resumes and build skills for the future,” Sterling said. “Some faculty members even offer it as an opportunity for students to gain extra credit or fulfill a community service requirement within their course.”

The Ocean Day Mālama Kanaloa Festival is focused on increasing awareness of ocean and coastal issues such as conservation, sustainable use of resources and ocean safety through interactive displays, activities and booths. Activities include fishing games, marine critter touch tanks, craft making, makahiki games, face painting, poi-pounding, seed planting, marine debris displays, and more. The event also showcases ongoing research while providing opportunities to interact with people interested in working together to care for island and ocean communities.

For more information, email: UHpipes@hawaii.edu or call Amelie Sterling at 933-0707.

Governor Abercrombie Calls for Public Input on Climate Change

Having recently met with President Obama and other state governors on a variety of issues including climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking for ideas from Hawaii residents on how the federal government can better support state and other local efforts in climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience.

Climate Change and Abercrombie

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was one of 26 members appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Members have been asked to develop recommendations in the areas of:

  • Disaster Management
  • Built Systems (water, transportation, energy, facilities and coastal infrastructure)
  • Natural Resources and Agriculture
  • Community Development and Health

The public is invited to provide input through an online form at http://governor.hawaii.gov/climate-change-task-force-survey/. Since the Task Force is on an expedited timeline, the first round of input must be received by Monday, March 10.  The form is also accessible from the Governor’s homepage, http://governor.hawaii.gov, by clicking on “Your Input on Climate Change” under “Useful Links.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity to share Hawaii’s unique needs, challenges and innovative solutions, while advising federal officials on what kind of support is needed and what would be most effective here in the islands,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Members of the President’s task force from every part of the country agree this is the challenge of our time and we must work together to prepare for and mitigate impacts.”

“Gov. Abercrombie’s appointment to the President’s task force puts our state in a valuable position to share what matters most for Hawaii in building a resilient future,” said State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. “The recommendations submitted will be considered by the task force for the final presentation to President Obama. Although the focus of the task force is how the federal government can better support our climate change efforts in Hawaii, this is also a chance for us to identify next steps for action that we can take together as a state.”

Resilient Hawaii Forum
Another opportunity to share recommendations and discuss next steps for addressing climate change in Hawaii will be the Governor’s second Resilient Hawaii Forum, a free and open session being held during the Pacific Risk Management Ohana (PRiMO) conference on March 12, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center. As mentioned in his 2014 State of the State Address, the Governor is convening the forums this year to engage stakeholders – Native Hawaiian organizations, natural resource managers, the military, tourism officials, agricultural representatives, researchers and government at all levels – to create a climate change roadmap for Hawaii. For more information on the PRiMO conference, visit http://collaborate.csc.noaa.gov/PRiMO/Pages/index.aspx.

Navigating Change
Read Navigating Change, Hawaii’s Approach to Adaptation, a report presented by Gov. Abercrombie at the first meeting of the President’s Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience in December 2013: http://governor.hawaii.gov/blog/navigating-climate-change/.

Hawaii Senate Committee Advances Bills Protecting the Environment

The Hawaii State Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means (WAM) today advanced legislation to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources. The committee passed bills that, if made law, would have immediate and far-reaching effects on beach shorelines, invasive species control, conservation, sustainability, climate change and disaster planning efforts.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

Some members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at Pohoiki on the Big Island.

“We must continually work together to maintain our unique island home for the health and pleasure of our families and, also, the stability of our economy through the visitor industry,” said Sen. David Ige, WAM Committee chairman. “These bills passed today touch on many facets of the environment both with immediate actions and long-term planning, and will require more meetings and consensus for success.”

The environment protection measures passed today include:

SB2742 – Establishes the Pacific-Asia Institute for Resilience and Sustainability to provide the structure and opportunity for a new generation of leaders to emerge who possess the ability to address Hawaii and the Pacific-Asia region’s risks from natural and man-made hazards and to develop solutions for sustainable economic growth within the region’s unique physical and cultural diversity.

SB3035 – Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds and appropriates funds for planning for and construction for the realignment of Kamehameha Highway mauka of Laniakea beach on the North Shore of Oahu.

SB3036 – Appropriates funds to the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program to create a North Shore beach management plan for the North Shore of Oahu stretching from Sunset beach to Waimea Bay.

The Senate WAM Committee last week advanced two joint majority package bills that support efforts to address invasive species and climate change. The measures are:

SB2343 – Appropriates funds to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council for invasive species prevention, control, outreach, research, and planning.

SB2344 – Addresses climate change adaptation by establishing the interagency sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation committee under the Department of Land and Natural Resources to create a sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report that addresses sea level rise impacts statewide to 2050. Tasks the Office of Planning with establishing and implementing strategic climate adaptation plans and policy recommendations using the sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation report as a framework for addressing other statewide climate impacts identified under Act 286, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012. Appropriates funds for staffing and resources.

Grassroot Institute Issue Brief Looks at the Minimum Wage Debate

A recent Issue Brief from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii considers the effects of an increase in the minimum wage, concluding that the raise in the minimum wage currently before the Hawaii Legislature will not advance the goal of improving the plight of Hawaii’s working poor.

Click to read brief

Click to read brief

The report, entitled Four Things You Should Know About the Minimum Wage Debate in Hawaii, identifies four key areas of concern that are at odds with the objectives of the legislation. They are:

  • Raising the minimum wage will benefit less than 4%of low-income working families.
  • The current proposed minimum wage raise increases the costs of low-skilled labor by 39%.
  • Raising the minimum wage will not lift working families out of poverty.
  • Raising the minimum wage is expected to reduce teenage employment.

Though the intent of a minimum wage increase is to lift Hawaii’s working families out of poverty, the brief concludes that such legislation will do little to achieve this objective while placing a substantial burden on Hawaii’s small businesses and employers. In effect, states the brief author, “[a]n increase in the minimum wage would accomplish no more than to increase benefits for a handful of low-income working families at the expense of teenage workers and small business owners. The one thing that the minimum wage proposal does accomplish, however, is to effectively divert the political narrative away from the real causes of poverty and inequality in Hawaii.”

“The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii continues to advocate for free market solutions to our state’s economic problems,” states Dr. Keli’i Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. “Unfortunately, the proposed raise in the minimum wage is nothing more than a band-aid solution that will burden Hawaii’s businesses without effectively helping our state’s working families. What we really need is a reduction in the obstacles that the state places on business and entrepreneurship in Hawaii, as a vibrant and growing economy is the best way to improve the situation of low-wage workers.”

You can read or download this brief in its entirety at: http://new.grassrootinstitute.org/2014/02/four-things-you-should-know-about-the-minimum-wage-debate-in-hawaii/.

NELHA, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Jump into Energy Storage Race

The state, County of Hawaii, and Hawaii Electric Light Company announced a strategic partnership to share resources and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating pre-commercial energy storage units at the Hawaii Ocean Science and Technology (HOST) Park in Kailua-Kona, managed by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

NEHLA Aerial

“This strategic partnership highlights NELHA’s value to our state as a test-bed for new technologies and driver of innovation and economic development,” said Gov. Abercrombie, who last month released more than $13 million for capital improvements at NELHA facilities.

“With the significant cost reduction in clean energy generation over the years, some consider lower cost energy storage to be the ’missing link’ and one of the most challenging elements in the design and function of a clean energy microgrid,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour.

Energy storage is a rapidly evolving market and offers significant potential for future growth as microgrids require higher degrees of reliability and power quality, sophisticated generation-load balancing.

According to some reports, the worldwide market for energy storage systems for wind and solar will grow from less than $150 million annually in 2013 to $10.3 billion by 2023 and an installed capacity of projected to total 21.8 GW.

“The good news is that we have already developed the necessary infrastructure to allow for the ‘real-world’ grid connected standardized testing and validation of energy storage devices at HOST Park,” Barbour said. “NELHA plans to offer low-cost outdoor and indoor sites for testing, up to 30kW of power, power sensors, and real-time monitoring data of energy storage devices at no additional cost.”

“Hawaii Island offers an ideal opportunity to develop technologies that will allow more cost-effective, sustainable energy solutions to benefit our residents,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“Our mission is to provide secure, clean energy for Hawaii,” said Hawaii Electric Light President Jay Ignacio. “There are great opportunities in energy storage to increase clean energy, support reliability and ultimately lower costs for customers. This partnership will help our efforts to identify economic and reliable energy storage options that support our mission.”

Added Barbour, “Efforts like these are providing a backbone that NELHA can build out further in the coming years and greatly assist in making the critical seawater system more cost efficient for businesses at HOST Park.”

Natural Farming Learning Lab Grows Healthy Community in Kohala

On Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 9 am – 2 pm, the Palili ‘O Kohala project welcomes the Hawai‘i Island community to attend the blessing of the Natural Farming Learning Lab in Hawi, North Kohala. The program will include Hawaiian music, local food, workshops, demonstrations and a blessing of the Natural Farming Learning Lab, including the new Natural Farming Pig and Chicken House. The cost is $15 per person (children under 10 are free) and includes a Kohala grown lunch.

Chris Trump of Cho Global Natutal Farming Co-op will be one of the presenters on March 1st in North Kohala.

Chris Trump of Cho Global Natutal Farming Co-op will be one of the presenters on March 1st in North Kohala.

Afternoon workshops include: Introduction to Natural Farming with Chris Trump, from Cho Global Natural Farming Co-op; Raising pigs using Natural Farming with Mike DuPonte from the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources; Taro Cultivation with Bert Kanoa and his students from Palili ‘O Kohala and Ka Hana No‘eau; Making Natural Farming inputs with Palili ‘O Kohala families and Ka Hana No‘eau students.

Hawaiian Ki Hō‘alu slack key guitar master Cyril Pahinui will be headlining the musical slate as well as teaching a mini-workshop in playing ukulele.

There will be ongoing talks and demonstrations on: poi pounding; raising chickens the Natural Farming way; Natural Farming, Hawaiian Saddle Making and more with the mentors and students of Ka Hana No‘eau; ukulele making with Guy Sasaki and his students from the Ka Hana No‘eau ukulele making class, and; learning about ‘uala (sweet potato) and the Kohala dryland field system with Ulu Mau Puanui.

 

Ten families in North Kohala are working together to grow taro, pigs and chickens using Natural Farming.

Ten families in North Kohala are working together to grow taro, pigs and chickens using Natural Farming.

The Natural Farming Learning Lab and Palili ‘O Kohala is a project of Kohala-based non-profit Kahua Pa‘a Mua, Inc. The Palili ‘O Kohala project is a ten family taro growing cooperative that addresses food self-sufficiency, food security and economic development in North Kohala. The project provides training, as well as resources for the growing, processing and distribution of taro and value added products from taro, pigs, chickens and vegetables. The Natural Farming Learning Lab has been created to demonstrate the efficacy of and teach others about Natural Farming methods of growing taro, pigs, chickens and vegetables. Natural Farming is a methodology that uses “indigenous microorganisms” to increase yields, eliminate the use of chemicals and reduce needs for water in crop management and animal husbandry.

The North Kohala community, in its County mandated Community Development Plan (CDP) is committed to 50% community food self-sufficiency by 2018. The Natural Farming Learning Lab and Palili ‘O Kohala are part of the community effort to reach that goal by cultivating traditional crops and using Natural Farming to grow chemical free food.

The Palili ‘O Kohala project has been generously supported by County of Hawai‘i County Council, County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development, Local Initiatives Fund of RSF Social Finance, Honsador Lumber, Dorrance Family Foundation, Hawai‘i Community Foundation Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund and Partners in Development Foundation. Community partners include Partners in Development Foundation Ka Hana No‘eau and North Kohala Eat Locally Grown.

Tickets are limited and advance purchase is required. Tickets can be bought online at foodhubkohala.org, in person at the EBT Booth at the Hawi Farmers Market or by phone at 808-224-1404. For information please visit foodhubkohala.org.

Governor Abercrombie Releases $15.85 Million for Agriculture, Watershed Preservation

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $15.85 million for various capital improvement projects (CIP) administered by the state Department of Agriculture in support of the local agriculture industry and further preservation of Hawaii’s watersheds.

“Hawaii’s agriculture industry is vital to our local economy and supports thriving rural communities,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “It’s essential to protect our mauka forest areas, which contain native plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. Our state’s watershed initiative remains a top priority, and it is the most cost-effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish groundwater resources to prevent erosion that muddies our beaches and fisheries.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects, identified by state legislators, has been approved by the Governor:

$12,500,000 – Agricultural Land, Oahu – Funds to purchase three land parcels in Wahiawa for agribusiness operations; the properties have access to roads, municipal water, and utilities, which make it efficient for transport of produce and cost effective for agribusiness operations (A fourth parcel may be purchased, pending negotiations with another buyer)

Temporary repair of one of the original wooden flumes. Some of the wooden flumes will be restored to their original state for historical purposes.

Temporary repair of one of the original wooden flumes. Some of the wooden flumes will be restored to their original state for historical purposes.

$1,500,000 – Lower Hamakua Ditch Watershed Project, Island of Hawaii – Construction to repair flumes, ditches, reservoirs and tunnels; remove sediment in the ditches; modify intake structures; and install new lateral distribution lines for the irrigation system

$1,000,000 – State Agricultural Water Use Development Plan, statewide – Project planning to continue to inventory irrigation systems throughout the state, prepare historic description of the original irrigation infrastructure, assess the current condition, propose maintenance improvements, identify irrigation source and water use requirements, and develop long-term water use projections

$700,000 – Kunia Agricultural Park, Oahu – Design of the 150-acre Kunia Agricultural Park in Royal Kunia; design plans will include provisions to subdivide the land parcel into 26 lots and coordinating adjacent infrastructure to make utilities available to the parcels

$75,000 – East Kauai Irrigation System, Kauai – Construction for upgrades and repairs including clearing, lining, repairing and stabilizing the access roads, ditches, flumes, tunnels, reservoirs, diversions and intakes

$75,000 – Waimanalo Irrigation System Improvements, Oahu – Design for the extension of the main irrigation pipeline; the extension will be approximately 1,500 linear feet

Solar Photovoltaic Installations in Hawaii Continued to Grow in 2013

Solar photovoltaic installations in Hawai‘i continued growing at a strong pace in 2013. A total of 17,609 solar installations with more than 129 megawatts capacity were added to the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company grids in 2013. This is 39 percent more than was added in 2012.

The total of solar photovoltaic systems interconnected on the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ grids as of Dec. 31, 2013 is 40,159 with a total capacity of 300 MW. Of those installations, 96 percent take advantage of net energy metering, a program that began in 2001 to encourage the adoption of rooftop solar. With net energy metering, customers with rooftop solar receive full retail credit for electricity they generate and send to the utility grid. They use that credit to offset the electricity they take from the grid when solar power does not meet their needs at night or on cloudy days.

More than 70 percent of rooftop systems are on Oahu.  With 29,558 PV systems and 221 MW as of Dec. 31, 2013, 10 percent of Hawaiian Electric customers now have rooftop solar, a higher percentage than any mainland utility. On Hawaii Island, 7 percent of Hawaii Electric Light customers have rooftop solar. And 8 percent of Maui Electric customers have rooftop solar.

This unprecedented rapid growth in rooftop solar in Hawai‘i has resulted in some neighborhood circuits reaching extremely high levels of photovoltaic systems. An increasing number of distribution level circuits have rooftop PV capacity exceeding 100 percent of the daytime minimum load, the trigger for interconnection studies and possible implementation of safety measures or upgrades before new PV systems on that circuit can be interconnected to the grid. This condition slowed the pace of rooftop solar growth in the last quarter of last year.

“Our first priority is the safety and reliability of service to all our customers,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. “At the same time, we remain committed to a strong, sustainable solar industry in Hawaii. We continue to approve new solar systems for interconnection daily. And we are working to find ways to add more solar power, including on circuits that already have large amounts of PV installed.”

Solar installations and capacity by utility as of December 31, 2013

  Solar Installations Capacity in MW
Hawaiian Electric 29, 558 221
Maui Electric 5, 246 41
Hawaii Electric Light 5,355 38
TOTAL 40,159 300

Cumulative solar growth in Hawaiian Electric Companies service territories, 2005-2013 (Data subject to change)

Big Island Rep. Onishi Calls for Stronger Protections For Hawaii’s Farmers and Ranchers

Hawaii Island House of Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Pahala, Honoapu, Volcano) is calling for stronger protections for Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers by introducing a bill to strengthen Hawaii’s Right to Farm Act.

HB2506

Hawaii’s right-to-farm law is designed to protect and preserve agricultural operations by allowing farmers, who meet all legal requirements and use accepted farming management practices, protection from unreasonable controls on farming operations and from nuisance suits which might be brought against them.

The law also documents the importance of farming to the local community and State of Hawaii and puts non-farming rural residents on notice that generally accepted agricultural practices are reasonable activities to expect in farming areas.

“Like many other states, Hawaii has had to deal with encroaching urbanization and pressure it puts on our farms and agricultural lands,” Onishi said. “Unlike most states, Hawaii is an island with very limited space for agricultural endeavors. We’ve seen how hard it’s been to protect our ag lands and to keep them productive in the face of other pressing needs and priorities.

“But if we are interested in sustainability and moving Hawaii toward greater self-reliance, we will have to strike a better balance between our rural and urban needs. This measure is designed to do just that by protecting our local farmers and ranchers. They have a right to farm in the best way they see fit, as long as they follow legal and accepted agricultural practices, whether we’re talking about ranchers, poultry, hog, vegetable, flower and plant farmers.”

The public can participate in legislative discussions and follow the progress of the bill at http://capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2506&year=2014

My 2013 Year in Review

Well 2013 was another interesting year.

Some quick site stats:

  • In 2013, 817,155 people visited this site with the most being in the month of November with 114,001 people visiting it:
  • The average amount of people that visited this site each day was 2,239 with the most average amount also being in November with 3,800 people per day:

    2013 Site Stats

    Click to enlarge

2013 Average per day

Click to enlarge

I appreciate all my sponsors, family, friends and readers that have given me the opportunity to do some of the things I’ve gotten to do in the past year.

Andrew and I

Vincent, Mayor Kenoi and Kate at the Big Island Film Festival

Vincent, Mayor Kenoi and Kate at the Big Island Film Festival

  • May was also the month that one of my best friends from when I was younger decided to have his bachelor party in Las Vegas.  Besides going go-karting, attending the Last Cowboy Standing Rodeo Competition, hitting comedy clubs up and just partying in general… well I also jumped off the Stratosphere!
Pierre Omidyar and Arianna Huffington at Imiloa Astronomy Center announcing the beginning of HuffPost Hawaii.

Pierre Omidyar and Arianna Huffington at Imiloa Astronomy Center announcing the beginning of HuffPost Hawaii.

Family members of the Body Glove International Company

Family members of the Body Glove International Company

Billy Meistrell (2nd generation Owner and Co-Founder of Body Glove), Russ Lesser (President), Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

Billy Meistrell (2nd generation Owner and Co-Founder of Body Glove), Russ Lesser (President), Abbas Hassan and Mayor Kenoi

My Uncle and Aunt on the back end of the USS Lake Erie.

My Uncle and Aunt on the back end of the USS Lake Erie.

  • And at the end of 2013, I got to spend time in Ko Olina while my uncle and aunt renewed their 50th wedding vows:

James Tucker Ohana

Hawaii County Property Tax “Amnesty” Offered for Agricultural Program

On January 1, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Finance will begin additional review of all taxpayers who claim property tax discounts through the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program. During the final weeks in December, the Finance Department is encouraging any taxpayers who believe they may be claiming that agricultural use discount in error to participate in an “amnesty period.”

Hawaii County Logo
Under the agricultural use classification, owners of non-dedicated agricultural lands who are engaging in agricultural activities may receive property tax discounts under the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program. Currently 10,411 properties participate in this program, and the requirements for the program are described in the Hawai‘i County Code Chapter 19-57.

Property owners who participate in the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program but do not comply with the rules of the program are removed from the program, and the Finance Department automatically imposes a rollback of taxes for the current fiscal year. Starting January 1, the Finance Department will begin a new review that will require that property owners who receive the agricultural use discounts provide documentation of their continuous and regular agricultural activities.

Property owners who currently claim the agricultural use discount but believe they do not actually qualify for the Non-Dedicated Agricultural Use Program may voluntarily withdraw from the program in December without penalty, said Director of Finance Nancy Crawford.

“This program is part of our ongoing effort to encourage agricultural activities in this county, but we need to ensure that the owners who receive these generous benefits are actually engaged in active, continuous agriculture,” Crawford said.

For more information, contact the Real Property Tax Office at 961-8201, or visit www.hawaiipropertytax.com

 

Governor Abercrombie Goes To White House – Voices Hawaii’s Priorities on President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Ensuring the State of Hawaii has a strong voice in the national discussion on climate change, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today shared Hawaii’s unique perspective as an island state at the first meeting of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The meeting was held at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Governor Voices Hawaii’s Priorities on President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

Governor Voices Hawaii’s Priorities on President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

The President established the task force to advise his administration on how the federal government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are currently dealing with or anticipate extreme weather, sea level rise, and other impacts of climate change. This first meeting focused on building climate resilience into efforts to better prepare for and recover from natural disasters. In addition, task force members had the opportunity to share their expertise and experience in implementing climate preparedness measures, and begin to consider recommendations for the President.

Named to the task force last month, Gov. Abercrombie attended along with Deputy Chief of Staff Blake Oshiro and Hawaii State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel. Gov. Abercrombie’s congressional experience (including serving on the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces and as a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee) and ability to provide insight into the needs of the Asia-Pacific were cited as factors in his selection.

Obama administration officials participating in the meeting included: Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (pictured), Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, and FEMA Associate Administrator David Miller.

 

Guy Toyama Memorial Fund Establishes a New Scholarship for Hawaii Students

An investment in students commemorates the life of a Hawaii visionary while fostering positive change now and in the future.

The Guy Toyama Memorial Fund is announcing its first academic scholarship in partnership with the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF). The academic scholarship, available to qualifying high school or college students who live in Hawaii and are pursuing a degree in the fields of sustainability, entrepreneurship or related disciplines, is made possible by donations from friends, family and businesses, and furthers Guy’s global vision for a better future.

Guy Toyama gave a presentation at the 2012 Sam Choy's Keauhou Poke Contest

Guy Toyama gave a presentation at the 2012 Sam Choy’s Keauhou Poke Contest

“Guy understood that, in order to create a sustainable future, we need to invest in the students of today. This scholarship is a small step toward creating businesses and systems that accomplish this goal,” said Rod Hinman, Steering Committee Chair of the Guy Toyama Memorial Fund.

Eligible students must enroll in a 2‐year or 4‐year college program, and should demonstrate a commitment to an area of study related to sustainability. Examples include: permaculture, environmental management, architecture or green building, ecology, ecological economics, sustainable agriculture, energy efficiency and renewable energy, green business management, or philosophy/ethics with a sustainability focus.

In addition to the academic scholarship managed by the HCF, the Guy Toyama Memorial Fund operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the Institute for a Sustainable Future (ISF). Through the ISF, the fund will provide grants for non‐profit projects focused on innovation and sustainability. The combination of grants and academic scholarships will create positive outcomes for future generations.

The late Guy Toyama shows off his award winning Abalone Poke.

The late Guy Toyama shows off his award winning Abalone Poke.

Guy Toyama, a Hawaii visionary and champion of sustainable business and renewable energy, passed away in November of 2012. In honor of his longstanding commitment to improving the relationship between people and the islands, his never‐ending spirit of kuleana will be carried on through the Guy Toyama Memorial Fund. All who knew Guy were touched by his enthusiasm for life and his many passions. His joyful exuberance and his exceptional knowledge of how to live lightly on the planet were a source of inspiration to many.

Hawaii Community Foundation’s scholarship program awards over $4 million each year and consists of more than 180 different scholarship opportunities established by generous individuals, families, businesses or organizations to assist Hawaii’s residents in obtaining a college education. Some scholarship funds are part of the HCF and some opportunities are through private foundations that contract with HCF to administer their scholarships. Students apply online with one common application and, if eligible, can be awarded from one or more of these funds. To submit an online application, search for a scholarship or find more information, please visit www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org.

About the Guy Toyama Memorial Fund

The Guy Toyama Memorial Fund is dedicated to honoring the memory of Guy Toyama by establishing scholarships and awarding grants to non‐profits working in the areas of sustainability, renewable energy, waste reduction, and local food production. Requests for additional information can be addressed to info@guytoyamafund.org, or by visiting www.guytoyamafund.org.

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 113 – Relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants

Kenoi Apec

Aloha, Chair Yoshimoto and Members:

On Nov. 19, 2013 the Hawai‘i County Council adopted Bill 113 Draft 3 adding a new article relating to Genetically Engineered Crops and Plants, and on Nov. 21, 2013 delivered the bill to me for my consideration. After careful deliberation and discussions with members of my administration and the public, I am signing Bill 113.

Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources. We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world. With this new ordinance we are conveying that instead of global agribusiness corporations, we want to encourage and support community-based farming and ranching.

The debate over this bill has at times been divisive and hurtful, and some of our hard-working farmers who produce food for our community have been treated disrespectfully. We are determined to protect every farmer and rancher. Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island will continue to grow with county assistance, investment and support. That commitment includes initiatives such as the public-private partnership to improve and expand the Pa‘auilo Slaughterhouse to support our grass-fed beef industry, and the launch of the Kapulena Agricultural Park, the largest agricultural park in the state on 1,739 acres of county-owned land. It also includes support for innovative training programs to grow the farmers of the future, and to train veterans to engage in agriculture on Hawaiian Home Lands, and the introduction and advancement of Korean Natural Farming as a sustainable method of producing healthier crops and livestock. It includes completion of the first-in-the-state Food Self-Sufficiency Baseline Study of Hawai‘i Island to measure the island’s progress toward food self-sufficiency.

We are determined to reunite our farming community to create a stronger and more vibrant agricultural sector. It is time to end the angry rhetoric and reach out to our neighbors. Our farmers are essential to creating a wholesome and sustainable food supply on this island, and they deserve to be treated with respect and aloha. We must turn now to a meaningful, factual dialogue with one another.

With my approval of this bill, our administration will launch a year of research and data collection to investigate factual claims and to seek out new directions that farming in our community should take. This work will include an expanded database detailing the locations of both organic and conventional farms, the crops that are grown, more accurate estimates of the revenue earned from these enterprises, and the challenges our farmers face in meeting food safety and organic certification requirements. We will work with our farmers and our ranchers to carefully monitor the impacts of this bill over the next year to separate speculation and guesswork from the facts.

Today our communities expect that government will be as cautious as possible in protecting our food and water supplies. We all want to minimize impacts to the environment while also producing abundant, affordable food for local consumption. This ordinance expresses the desires and demands of our community for a safe, sustainable agricultural sector that can help feed our people while keeping our precious island productive and healthy.

Aloha,

William P. Kenoi
MAYOR

EPA Awards Over $30 Million to the Pacific Territories for Environmental Protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded over $30 million as part of a yearly program that provides grants to Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa for use in continuing environmental protection work and for improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

EPA LOGO“EPA’s funding enables the islands to advance their goals in the pursuit of clean air, water and land,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “As one example, the investment made in leak detection projects in all three territories has dramatically reduced drinking water losses, and saved over $1 million in energy costs.”

Guam EPA will be receiving $3.2 million, CNMI DEQ will be receiving $1.7 million, and the American Samoa EPA $1.8 million to support the operations of each environmental agency. The work done by the agencies include inspections, monitoring the safety of beaches and drinking water, permit writing, enforcement and other facets of their environmental protection programs.

Additionally, EPA provides drinking water and wastewater construction grants to improve the water supplies in each of the territories. The Guam Waterworks Authority will be receiving $8.2 million, CNMI’s Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will be receiving $6.9 million, and the American Samoa Power Authority $8.3 million.

Accomplishment highlights from previous funding include:

  • Improvements to the drinking water system in all three territories, including improved chlorination in Guam, increased water storage in CNMI, and an ongoing extension of the central system in American Samoa to remote villages.
  • EPA funding has contributed to the increased drinking water availability in Saipan, where 95% of the population now has access to 24-hour water (up from 75% in 2009).
  • Improvements to the wastewater collection and treatment systems in all three territories, including rehabilitation of a treatment plant in Saipan, improvements to the collection infrastructure in Guam, and ongoing extension of sewer lines in American Samoa.
  • EPA has funded the replacement of older wastewater pumps with newer energy efficient pumps and controls, saving the utilities hundreds of thousands of dollars in power bills in all three territories.

Second Hearing Set for Puna Agriculture Initiative at Pahoa Community Center

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management (CAFNRM) holds a second public meeting to gather input on an agricultural action plan for the region. The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, November 25, at the Pahoa Community Center.

Pahoa Community Center Sign

The Pahoa Community Center is also known as the Pahoa Neighborhood Facility

CAFNRM is currently conducting a preliminary needs assessment for a community-based rural outreach program and establishment of a Higher Education Learning Network as called for under the recently adopted Hawaiʻi State Senate Resolution (SR)150.

Click to read full bill

Click to read full bill

The goal of the initiative is to create jobs in the district and provide a business incubator to encourage greater food crop production.

The College is seeking input on various issues, including training and information, assisting existing farmers and food processors, and resources needed to attract new farmers to grow and process food for local markets.

For more information, contact CAFNRM at 932-7691.

 

Hawaii Receives U.S. Government Support on Bid for 2016 World Conservation Congress

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced today that the state has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of State to support Hawaii’s efforts to bring the world’s largest global conservation meeting to Hawaii in 2016.

Convention Center
The U.S. Department of the State has issued a letter to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in support of the State of Hawaii’s bid to host the 2016 World Conservation Congress (WCC). Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy sent the letter to IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre expressing the U.S. Government’s confidence that Hawaii has the necessary resources in place to secure the event.

“Hosting this event in 2016 would be a tremendous honor for the state,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “The World Conservation Congress brings people together from around the globe to discuss the world’s most pressing conservation issues. This represents a unique opportunity to position Hawaii as a world leader in addressing and solving the environmental issues of today and formulating strategies to mitigate those of the future.”

William J. Aila, Jr., chair of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) further emphasized: “The State of Hawaii is ideally positioned to bring together nations of Asia, the Pacific, and global conservation partners, to facilitate cutting-edge discussions and agreements on biodiversity, climate change, species conservation, and cultural integration.”

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,200 government and NGO member organizations, and nearly 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. The last WCC was held in Sept 2012 in Jeju, Republic of Korea.

The WCC attracts nearly 10,000 delegates from more than 160 countries and is considered the foremost venue for setting a global agenda for the conservation of nature and culture. Top government officials, leaders of the business community, conservation organizations, and academics meet for 10 days to deliberate on pressing global issues including energy security, food security, invasive species, climate change, and impacts to marine systems.

The Governor is thankful for the early work of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye and former Sen. Daniel Akaka in supporting Hawaii’s initiative to prepare a bid to host the WCC. The Governor also acknowledges the leadership shown by Hawaii’s congressional delegation, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and many Hawaii organizations that support the initiative, as well the support from the U.S. Department of State.

Hosting the WCC will result in major economic benefits to the state of nearly $50 million in visitor spending and tax revenue. Costs to host the WCC will obtained from a creative blend of state, private, and corporate funding. Hawaii will be competing against Istanbul, Turkey to host the event.

“For the hundreds of individuals who have dedicated their time and efforts, having the U.S. Government support our efforts is very rewarding,” said Chipper Wichman, chair of the IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. “While we have to overcome some very strong competition from Istanbul in order to host the 2016 WCC, we have a strong national network of supporters in place who believe Hawaii is the ideal location for the world to convene to discuss global conservation issues. Hawaii is a leader in bio-cultural conservation and with some of the rarest species on earth and a vibrant host culture we offer the world a unique venue,”

The state has been actively working on this for the past five years in collaboration with leaders from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaii Tourism Authority, the University of Hawaii, Bishop Museum, and many others.

FREE – “Ola – Health is Everything” at UH Hilo November 14th

The public is invited to a special screening of “Ola – Health is Everything” on Thursday, November 14 at 12:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo University Classroom Building Room 127. There is no admission charge and seating is limited.
Ola
The Hawaiʻi documentary premiered at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival in April 2013. It highlights the power of communities to heal, explores how society must rethink what it means to be healthy, and portrays individuals who bring hope to communities across Hawaiʻi. A Q & A will follow the screening with film writer and producer Matthew Nagato of the Hawaiʻi Primary Care Association.

The screening is supported by UH Hilo’s Student Health & Wellness Programs and the Chancellor’s Professional Development Fund.

For additional information, call 932-7458.

Ola (Hawaiian for “life, well-being”) is a feature length documentary which explores the widespread social factors that helped create Hawai’i’s health care crisis and offers an intimate look at individuals who have, in the face of these challenges, brought hope to their communities.

Department of Agriculture Developing New Pesticides Use Guidelines

Following Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr.’s veto Thursday (Oct. 31) of county Bill 2491 (Relating to Pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms), the state Department of Agriculture reaffirmed the Mayor’s assessment that complicated legal issues and practical enforcement and implementation details must be taken into consideration to effectively address community’s concerns.

“The Department of Agriculture is in the process of implementing guidelines for companies regarding pesticide disclosure and buffer zones and will be submitting a budget request to the Legislature for additional pesticide inspectors,” said Chairperson Russell S. Kokubun.
HB673
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed House Bill 673, which the Governor in June signed into law as Act 105, requiring the state Department of Agriculture to post certain information regarding restricted use pesticides on its website. The act also requires the Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau to conduct a study on other states’ reporting requirements for non-restricted use pesticides.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said: “This administration looks forward to working with the Mayor to determine a reasonable, thoughtful, and balanced course of action to address these issues and to provide the assurances of public health, safety, and protection.”

The state will work with the Legislature to restore positions within and seek additional funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health’s Environmental Health Administration, particularly for the neighbor islands, to address pesticide compliance and conduct inspections regarding pesticide contamination, and ensure that inspections are conducted in a timely manner.