Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014

Ka`u Coffee Farms are not only famous, they help protect water resources and prevent desertification.
Photo by Julia Neal
"THE KA`U DISTRICT IS AN EXAMPLE of change in local climate. Thousands of trees have been planted there during the past 40 years. The region around Pahala has been reforested with macadamia trees and windbreaks. It was transformed from a dry, dusty region known for its incessant winds into a green and productive oasis.” This is the conclusion of Norm Bezona, once an agronomist at Ka`u Sugar. Bezona himself planted a collection of trees in the open space in the middle of Pahala, with a cork tree, bat-pollinated sausage tree and many other tropical trees among them creating a park-like setting on the grounds of what is now Royal Hawaiian Orchards and Pahala Plantation Cottages - the old Sasaki Store and Ka`u Meat Market.
Macadamia trees on Olson Trust lands protect the watershed and create
compost. Photo from olsontrust.com
     In his 2014 outlook on Hawai`i Island and the planet, first printed in West Hawai`i Today, Bezona writes about his New Year’s resolution that fits well with the multicultural, economic and environmental diversity of Ka`u, which can be an example for others. Writing mostly about others, Bezona says:
     “Humans seem to be hardwired to exclude. We tend to think of our team versus their team or our tribe is better than your tribe. We live in exclusive neighborhoods and go to exclusive schools or clubs, and others don’t. We tend to think having lots of material things makes us better than someone with less. The recent movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, is a good example of materialism carried to the extreme. This kind of mindset makes us vulnerable to an ‘us versus them’ way of thinking that affects our spiritual, political and cultural point of view. It can breed cynicism, fear and hate.
      “How do we diffuse the constant bombardment of negativity we experience? It’s not easy, but we can practice in our everyday life by being aware of what isolates us from one another. Prayer and meditation can help us find balance. When it comes to politics, to think inclusively is to respect the other person’s point of view even when it is different than ours. When it comes to humans in general, remember there is only one race: the human race.
      “Comedian Frank DeLima put in bluntly, and I will paraphrase: When every culture is reflected in your family tree, it’s hard to find anyone to hate. We are blessed in Hawai`i, where we have many cultures and religious philosophies coming together. It gives us an opportunity to practice inclusiveness. Our multicultural community is reflected in our landscapes.
MacFarms macadamia orchards help prevent deserts in Ka`u and
South Kona. Photo from macfarms.com
      “Let’s look at how we can learn some lessons from our gardens, parks and forests. We can focus on the value of planting and protecting native trees, but recognize the value of plants that have been brought by Polynesians, folks from Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and other regions. Our gardens reflect the cultural diversity of our people.
      “We can view plants we see as weeds in a broader sense by seeing they are really pioneer species trying to heal the wounds created by human or animal activity or natural disturbances such as flood, drought, lava flows and fires. If we find ourselves or our environment out of balance, we can approach the issue without fear or anger, but determine the role we can play to achieve connection, balance and aloha.
      “We know our planet is suffering from climate change and deforestation, but what can we do to reverse this trend? Parts of China, Africa and India are examples of vast areas that were deforested over the centuries. However, more damage has been done in the past 50 years than in the past several centuries. Untold numbers of species have been lost and climates altered.
      “How does thinking inclusively affect what we plant? We have a much broader palette of plants to use if we think outside the box. New reforestation projects often require drought-hardy species such as eucalyptus and neem, or fast growing types such as bamboo. Whatever trees we use, we need to start soon. Much of the tropics could become desert if this deforestation and climate change continues. Imagine how our island appeared when the first Polynesians set foot on it. There were forests covering the Kohala Mountains, Mauna Kea, Hualalai and much of Mauna Loa. Dryland forests extended to Kawaihae. It is time to reverse the trend of deforestation. It would be difficult to replant these vast areas with only native trees since we can’t be certain what was here before the first humans. Besides, the climate has probably changed since those ecosystems were destroyed.
      “Some advantages to planting forests are reducing wind velocity and erosion; preserving forest watersheds, native ecosystems and recreation opportunities; and, of course, tying up some of the excess carbon in our atmosphere.
Royal Hawaiian Orchards macadamia orchards are also home for bees
that help increase production of many agricultural crops.
Photo by Julia Neal
      “Forests and their effect on climate are nothing new, but as important as they are, they have not been put to use as much in Hawai`i as they should be. A primary purpose of forests is to reduce wind velocities to a degree that will provide protection. Some secondary effects of reducing wind velocity are temperature modification, increased humidity and reduced evaporation in the protected area. This reduces dust problems and supplies shelter and food for wildlife. They also add beauty.”
      In addition to the orchards of Ka`u, Bezona points out that “lava flows of West Hawai`i are being transformed by urban reforestation to create parks, gardens and golf courses. This means jobs for landscapers, gardeners and plant nurseries. Hamakua, Kohala, Waimea and Waikoloa also could benefit from this kind of long-range planning and planting. Unfortunately, trees take years to grow, and we too often think in terms of short-term profits.
      “Around East Hawai`i, forests of macadamia, banana, rambutan and other tropical fruit are sprouting up where sugarcane lands were abandoned. Giant timber bamboos could be grown as well. Many bamboos are easily maintained and extremely ornamental. Landscaping coastal lava fields to golf courses and homes planted with trees is not popular with some folks, but this too is urban forestry.
      “In many ways, we are on the track to create a better balanced environment, but it is important to continue to make a difference with cool heads and warm hearts. We can do this best by working together with respect and remembering we are all on this planet and need to treat it and each other in a consciously sustainable and inclusive manner.”

TO HELP MAKE THE NEW YEAR GREENER, the Solid Waste Division of the Department of Environmental Management is offering treecycling. Through Jan. 31, Ka`u residents may leave trees in the designated area at Wai`ohinu transfer station. Attendants will direct the public to the proper drop-off point. 
      Trees should be free from all decorations, lights, tinsel and ornaments. Artificial or flocked trees are not accepted.
      In addition, residents may recycle Kadomatsu decorations, which are normally a combination of bamboo, pine and flowers. Kadomatsu is a tradition that began 600 years ago in Japan as a way of offering luck in the New Year.
      For more information on recycling, visit www.hawaiizerowaste.org or call the Solid Waste Division Office at 961-8270.

SAFETY, EFFICIENCY AND PROTECTION OF DARK NIGHT SKIES are being taken into account in design of exterior lighting at the Ka`u Gym and Disaster Shelter, according to Hawai`i County Energy coordinator Will Rolston. “We are planning to install the new LED lights, fully shielded, in the parking lot,” he said. Rolston said these advanced lights will have a filter that restricts 98 percent of blue light, which is the wavelength that scatters in the atmosphere, mostly due to water particles, and mitigates the dark skies that the astronomy sector relies on. He said the lights should prevent most of the glare created by conventional lighting and put the most light on the ground. The lights also would improve safety through a more visible light spectrum. They are more efficient, as well, using half the wattage of the previous lighting requirement.
      David Yamamoto, Building chief from Department of Public Works, is overseeing the construction and working with Traffic Department chief Ron Thiel as well as lighting consultant Robert Billingsley on design of the lighting.

Frank Trusdell presents a Volcano Awareness Month program
Wednesday at Ocean View Community Center.
Photo from USGS/HVO
AS PART OF VOLCANO AWARENESS MONTH, USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory offers two programs this week. At After Dark in the Park on Tuesday, geologist Tim Orr reviews highlights from the past 31 years of eruption on Kilauea’s east rift zone and talks about recent developments. The program begins at 7 p.m. at Kilauea Visitor Center Auditorium in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. $2 donations support park programs; park entrance fees apply. 
      How well do you know the volcano in your backyard? USGS volcanologist Frank Trusdell discusses Mauna Loa’s eruptive history and current status Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center.

KA`U HIGH GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAMS hosted Honoka`a yesterday. In Junior Varsity, Deisha Gascon scored Ka`u’s 6 points, while 

Honoka`a came up with 44

also lost 32 – 65. Denisha Navarro was high-point scorer, with 9 points.

KA`U HOSPITAL URGES RESIDENTS to complete its Community Health Needs Assessment atsurveymonkey.com/s/93HQ5MX. The deadline has been extended to Jan. 31.

SEE THE DIRECTORY from the Ka`u Chamber of Commerce at http://snack.to/fzpfg59c.


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