One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.
Before the arrival of humans to the Hawaiian island a couple thousand years ago, birds ruled. Birds grazed the soft plants on the forest floor, flitted from flower to flower sipping nectar, dabbled in mountain streams, and cracked open the tough seeds of native plants. There were also predators: hawks, owls and eagles that preyed upon these other birds.
Today, less than half of Hawaiian species still exist, and populations of the remaining birds are not stable: they are threatened by habitat loss, climate change, introduced species, and disease.
On Kohala, we are left with one species of hawk, one species of duck, and one species of goose: ʻio, koloa maoli, and nēnē, and four honeycreepers: ʻapapane, ʻelepaio, ʻiʻiwi, and ʻamakihi. And that is it. Great for ease of remembering, but lousy for celebrating the amazing diversity of native Hawaiian bird species.
Good news abounds, however!
KWP recently received a grant to support protection of koloa maoli populations in windwards streams, where the birds are believed to be the most pure genetically (introduced mallard ducks have polluted their gene pool).
Hawaii State DLNR has recently relocated hundreds of nēnē from Kauai to the Big Island, doubling the population in just a few short years.
And ʻio, our Hawaiian hawk, has just been considered for de-listing from the Endangered Species List because its populations are considered stable.
In memory of the Hawaiian species that we will never have a chance to see:
ʻUla-ai-Hawane was a beautiful bird with dramatic, red, grey, black and white coloring , found in the forests of Kohala Mountain. Its main diet was the seeds of the native loulu palms, and as those plants became less and less common, it because extinct. Last seen on Kohala Mountain in the last 1800ʻs.
L-R: Lisa Ferentinos (State DOFAW Watershed Partnerships Program), Cheyenne Perry (Mauna Kea Watershed Alliance), Yumi Miyata (Waianae Mountains Watershed Partnership), Ed Misaki (East Moloka’i Watershed Partnership), Melora Purell (Kohala Watershed Partnership), Colleen Cole (Three Mountain Alliance), Jordan Jokiel (Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership), Chris Brosius (West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership)
Seven of the ten watershed partnership coordinators got together on Moloka’i this past week, to connect our islands through sharing and planning for the future. The Hawai’i Association of Watershed Partnerships (HAWP) is a voluntary association of statewide watershed partnerships, whose mission is to support the partnerships through advocacy, training, and statewide planning.
What’s ahead for HAWP? Look for a workshop on O’ahu in Fall 2014, focused on emerging technologies for visualization of the natural world. Stay tuned for more information to come. . .
On Moloka’i, we learned about
• the efforts to control feral goats — thousands removed from the south slopes, and real healing taking place on those watersheds;
• community-based restoration of ancient fish ponds;
• 30,000 deer and 7,000 people on Moloka’i: the impacts of that many animals to the island, and (how yummy they taste, too);
• new fencing projects on the south slope to isolate the high-elevation forested ridges from the impacts of feral animals (see photo below).
Without at least some rain in any given day, or at least a cloud or two on the horizon, I feel overwhelmed by the information of sunlight and yearn for the vital, muffling gift of falling water.”
― Douglas Coupland, Life After God
It is so exciting to get rain on leeward Kohala Mountain! We don’t have our exact counts, but something like 4 inches fell in the past month, and we’ve had flowing water in Waiakamali Stream! Yes, this is the stream that many of you have seen, but few have experienced as flowing water. So, I went up to the Koai’a Sanctuary with my camera to show you that indeed, water does run there after it rains!
And with the rain, comes new life! The mamane trees are blooming. . .
My dog Robin offered to be a scale model to show the incredible growth of our a’ali’i keiki. My, how you’ve grown!
And there were abundant seeds on the soil, ready to sprout with this lovely rain. Here are some mamane seeds just waiting to sprout (or be collected for our reforestation project)!
Come join us this Monday, January 20th for a volunteer work day in the Koai’a Sanctuary. RSVP to Melora by Thursday, January 16th to email@example.com.
Pilina, a Hawaiian word meaning “union, connection, joining, fitting,” describes the objective of this first-ever Hawaiʻi Island Conservation Forum. We are coming together to connect our places, our people, and our work.
This is an opportunity for us all to come together — resource managers, community supporters, field crews, policy makers, research scientists — to share the work being done across our island to care for our natural resources, from the mountains to the sea.
Our island has excellent examples of how relationships help us create stronger, more lasting programs. Our presenters will share who they are and where they work, and inspire us with the way they do their work: building the capacity of their communities, forging new partnerships between the public and private sectors, and innovating new models for enterprise within the context of conservation.
We hope this forum will serve as a next step forward toward creating an island-wide conservation hui. Please join us and be a part of growing something big on our island.
Hawai’i Island Conservation Forum
Kahilu Theater, Waimea
November 12, 2013
Schedule for the day
9:00-9:15 Registration & Coffee
9:15-11:45 Presentations by conservation groups
12:30-1:00 Featured Speaker
1:00-2:00 Discussion Forum
Cost: $10 per person (includes lunch)
Please reserve your place by November 4, 2013.
The Kohala Watershed Partnership is a sponsored program of The Kohala Center.
The Kohala Center is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
KWP partners and staff gathered recently to welcome the newest residents in the pastures of Kohala: a bunch of furry black caterpillars. These larvae of the Madagascan fireweed moth, Secusio extensa, are from the home range of a damaging invasive weed known locally as “fireweed.” This daisy relative has invaded pastures across the Big Island, and not only reduces edible forage for cattle, but is also toxic to livestock.
Three KWP ranching partners (Kahua Ranch, Ponoholo Ranch, and Parker Ranch) are working with the State Department of Agriculture to rear these insects in cages, hoping to raise a population in the millions to deal with the 850,000 acre infestation of fireweed on the Big Island.
The public often expresses to me great skepticism about the intentional importation of a new insect to our islands, and their concern is appreciated! In the past, there was little knowledge or understanding of the importance of controlling the spread of new weeds, new insects, or new animals to our islands, and some of our worst invaders were accidentally introduced.
The idea behind biocontrol is to find the “perfect” natural balance for an invasive species. This means sending explorers to places like Madagascar to learn about the natural predators, parasites and diseases that keep a species’ population under control in its home range. The core reason that a non-native species becomes invasive is that it moved to a new location where it had no natural controls on its population. So our goal is to find something like that natural balance here in its new home.
This is the case with this great little caterpillar. It has been undergoing tests for over a decade to make sure it won’t eat anything useful or native to Hawaii. In quarantine, it was offered all kinds of plants as food, and in every case, this little bug won’t touch anything but fireweed and a couple other weeds.
The greatest story I heard about this process is the descriptions of fireweed in its home range in Madagascar. On that island, you can’t find fields yellow with fireweed like you do here, because the native insects keep its population to a couple yellow clumps in every field – which is the goal for Hawaii, too.
Photo: KWP partners and staff observe the rearing cages for the fireweed biocontrol, a moth named Secusio extensa.
The Kohala Watershed Partnership (KWP) is seeking a new leader to work with the KWP crew, to perform the following types of field work: weed survey and control, ungulate-proof fence construction, native plant propagation, outplanting & irrigation, feral ungulate control, and erosion mitigation. In addition, the crew leader is responsible for planning and monitoring of our work using biological surveys, GPS, and GIS.
Minimum application requirements:
• Associate or Bachelor’s degree in biology, forestry, conservation, geography, or similar field.
• At least 3 years of field experience in Hawaii working with a conservation field crew.
• Training and experience using GIS to map and monitor field work.
• Proven leadership capability as a crew leader or similar position.
• Flexible time schedule, including back-country camping for five days at a time and some weekend work.
We are seeking a positive, communicative, goal-oriented individual who can successfully balance the management of people and projects.
Pay scale: $21.00 per hour plus benefits. This is a full-time, hourly, field position with The Kohala Center, a Hawaii Island-based non-profit organization that supports the work of KWP.
To apply: Send a resume summarizing education, work experience, and leadership capability, along with a cover letter that will help us to know you better. We will review resumes on Monday, March 25, and schedule interviews with our top candidates on Thursday, March 28.
Send resume and cover letter via email to KWP coordinator Melora Purell at firstname.lastname@example.org or via regular mail to P.O. Box 437182, Kamuela, HI 96743
For more information about KWP and the work we do, please visit our website, kohalawatershed.org. If you have questions, please feel free to email Melora or call her at 333-0976.
- Gladys Quistorff, veteran KWP volunteer, sharing the aftermath of working in windy “moon country”
The winds were blowing at 40 miles per hour, but the volunteer crew were undeterred. Under the leadership of KWP’s Cody Dwight, 19 volunteers from all over the island joined forces to construct a sediment check dam this past Saturday. This structure joined more than 100 others like it on the leeward Kawaihae watershed, built as a physical barrier to the movement of sediment downslope. To date, more than 900 tons of sediment has been sequestered on the watershed, soil that would have otherwise been dumped in Pelekane Bay, causing serious damage to the coral reef ecosystem.
Mahalo to our volunteers, including many students from Dr. Tracy Wiegner’s watershed class at UH-Hilo. You did good work!
Thanks also to the great spirit and enthusiasm of reporter Chelsea Jensen and photographer Laura Shimabuku who braved the weather with us and pitched in to help out, too! Click here to read their story from West Hawaii Today: http://westhawaiitoday.com/sections/news/local-news/saving-pelekane-bay.html
Photo by Laura Shimabuku
Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA) 7th graders just completed their second field trip into the forests of Kohala. Hosted by Kahua Ranch, a KWP partner, the students had an opportunity to delve into a self-directed field research project. This is the fourth year that science teacher Laura Jim has brought her students into the forest as part of the Hawaii Island Meaningful Outdoor Education for Students (HI-MOES) project.
The purpose of the students’ first trip into the forest was to immerse them in an ecosystem that is, for most of them, like an alien world. We sat in silence for about 10 minutes, soaking up the sights, sounds, smells and energy of the forest of Pu’u Pili.
We will share more later about their science experiments, but in this post, I want to share some of the poems that they wrote as a results of their silent time in the forest. It is quite clear that a single visit to an intact native Hawaiian forest can be a transformative experience.
Here are a few of my personal favorites. I am so thankful to these sweet souls for sharing their words with me!
Sensory Poem by Violet Fink
The chirping of the birds blends into the gentle trickling of the barely audible stream. The sounds are quiet, creating a monotone background of music to the soft green light if the forest. I sit protected in a hollow, the natural moss chair behind my back forming a damp support. I can feel the moisture held within the moss, keeping the beautiful land beneath the trees cool and comfortable. I am enclosed, but safe here in my shelter of trees and ferns. The wind hits the olapa, whose leaves flutter dangerously in the wind, bringing the scent of the musty earth of the surrounding forest. Cold, fresh water lands on my open palm, the taste rejuvenating and refreshing. Suddenly, the light breaks through the clouds and dapples the trees with tortoiseshell-like patterns. A shaft of sunlight descends onto the baby hapu’u fern a few feet in front of me, the tiny fronds clutching onto the light, seeming to stretch up from the ground and embrace the heavens. And I feel at peace.
Layers of generations connected by silk webs
Warm sun shaded by green leaves
Blue water softly dancing and stirring down slopes
Soft damp moss sponging water
Living harmoniously together, helping one another
Insects busy at work
Blue sky with golden light on green plants
Kapu’u ferns giving Kahili ginger stink eye
Everything alive and dead tangle together with a purpose
Untitled by Malcolm Davis
The golden light filtering through the florescent leaves
Engulfs my body taking me under
I am kept on earth only by the fresh air
And the cool damp moss pushing into my back
Providing the perfect cushion on which for me to lie
And as a lie there I feel myself falling deep into the fearsome beneath
Each breath is taking me farther into the depths
The taste sensation of each breath taking me down
The cool crisp blissful nothing
I begin to feel my eyelids close
I can’t imagine a more heavenly place
My mind is growing dimmer
The birds chirping and the rustling leaves lulling me down
Breathe in the untouched mountain air
“Time to get up” rings through the air as a bird chirp would in a cramped cave
Back to reality
On Saturday, November 17th, we gathered at Ponoholo Ranch, a founding KWP partner, to share a day of work and fun. Joining the KWP staff and a group of veteran volunteers in the field were Pono von Holt, his daughter Sabrina, and ranch employees Chris and Jason.
We started the day with a survey of two native species once thought extinct, but rediscovered — and now protected —on this land: the endemic tree snail pūpūkanioe, Partulina physa, and the rare oha wai plant, Clermontia singuliflora. Both snail and tree have found a natural sanctuary here on the windward slopes of Kohala — a place where the cooling mists blanket the valley walls, and tree leaves drip with moisture. The best moment of the morning was when Chris found a baby snail enveloped in the leaves of one of the baby outplanted oha wai ! !
We spent the rest of the morning surveying the upper sections of the Kaneaʻa-Ponoholo Preserve, and controlling kahili ginger. After a quick photo op, we headed back to the ranch to share a meal and recognize our most dedicated volunteers, who have donated hundreds of hours to the work of KWP over the years.
50 Hour Awards: John Kloppenborg, Ralph and Gladys Quistorff
75 Hour Award: Jean Bassen
150 Hour Award (Golden Sickle): Christine Ahia
250 Hour Award (Golden Sickle): David Stubbs
CONGRATULATIONS to our partners for their commitment to conservation, to our staff for their hard work, and to our volunteers, who donate their time and enthusiasm to our efforts.
When you look at this image of the wilderness of windward Kohala Mountain, do you wish you were there, working in such an amazing place? Do you have an understanding of the interactions of the natural, spiritual, and human elements in this ecosystem? Are you humbled by the boggy forest, the persistent winds, and the driving rain, but know you could contribute to the team effort to accomplish necessary work in a such an unreasonable place?
KWP is adding a new team member to our field crew. This is a full-time position implementing on-the-ground watershed conservation efforts for the partnership. We are looking for the right person — someone who is commited to a career in the conservation of Hawaiʻi’s natural resources, and is an observant naturalist, able to collect and summarize data. This requires an individual who enjoys working daily in outdoor Hawaiʻi, can work cooperatively with a variety of people, and can communicate effectively. The KWP field crew does physically demanding labor that requires a team effort and high level of motivation.
Does this sound like you, or someone you know? Full recruitment announcement and job application can be found here as a MS Word doc or pdf. Applications are due via email or regular mail by 11/28/12. Interviews will take place the first week of December, and the job starts in January, 2013.
For more information, send an email to Melora at email@example.com, or call her at 333-0976 if you prefer.