Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Thursday, April 3, 2014

A bill being considered at the state Legislature would provide funding to research and develop methods to control the macadamia felted coccid, which is damaging trees in Ka`u. Photo from testimony by Randy Cabral to the state Legislature.
HAWAI`I ONE IS AN AGRICULTURAL SOIL CONSERVATION planning tool under preliminary development with assistance from the Ulupono Initiative. Dwayne Okamoto, Executive Director of Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. on O`ahu, is traveling to meetings of all of the Soil & Water Conservation District member groups around the state to assess interest in the project. He spoke to Ka`u members yesterday at a meeting held at Royal Hawaiian Orchards’ conference room in Pahala. He explained that the idea comes from Idaho One, a working template that helps farmers and ranchers plan for their lands, shaving off time and sometimes the expense of consultants before taking their plans to government agencies and nonprofit organizations that help to finalize conservation plans. The computer program asks a series of questions, directing the farmer and rancher into planning for their property. Okamoto said he has received positive feedback from other conservation districts around the state. With enough interest, the project could be funded for Hawai`i.
Dwayne Okamoto
      See more on the Idaho One Plan at oneplan.org. See more on the Ulupono Initiative at ulupono.com.
      On hand were staff members Jennifer Lopez-Reavis and Amelia Drury, who work out of Hilo and are responsible for Soil & Water Conservation District services for Waiakea, Puna and Ka`u.
      Ka`u agriculture was represented by the chair of Ka`u Soil & Water Conservation District, Brenda Iokepa-Moses, of Ka`u Coffee Mill; vice chair John Cross, of Olson Trust; Ka`u’s secretary-treasurer, who is a retired school teacher and Volcano resident, Amos Meyers; and director Lani Petrie, of Kapapala Ranch. Other directors are Chris Manfredi, of Ka`u Farm & Ranch and associate director Phil Becker, of Aikane Plantation Coffee.
      The Soil & Water Conservation District is enabled by the U.S. Soil and Water Conservation Act of 1935 which enables “local communities to take positive action to collectively protect our nation’s soil and water resources,” says one of the Hawai`i conservation district websites. “Currently, there are nearly 3,000 local districts established throughout the nation to promote local efforts to install the Best Management Practices to prevent erosion and water pollution from agricultural, forestry and urban activities.” The website explains that the local districts “are self-governing sub-units of state government.” Each district is managed by five directors who volunteer their time to assist land users with implementation of resource conservation plans. To implement the programs, the districts enlist assistance from other government agencies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services provides expertise and staffing to districts. The University of Hawai`i Cooperative Extension Service and state Department of Health provide technical assistance.
      Lopez-Reavis said that Ka`u residents with farms and ranches of any size can contact her for free services at 933-8350. She said that Soil & Water Conservation District staff is responsible for implementing the county grading ordinance, which applies when an agriculturalist plans on moving more than 100 cubic yards of soil – one acre. She explained that such land movement requires either a county grubbing permit or a conservation plan. An approved conservation plan, which her agency helps to create, exempts the farm or ranch from the grubbing permit. She said that such plans help to prevent flooding and erosion that could affect a neighbor. She said the rule of thumb is the natural entrance or exit for water crossing land cannot be changed. A plan can help route the water to ensure stable land for agriculture.
      Meetings of the Ka`u Soil & Water Conservation District are held the first Wednesday of each month at 12:30 p.m. at Royal Hawaiian Orchard conference room on the corner of Pikake and Maile Streets in Pahala. To confirm meeting times, call 933-8350.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

WOOD VALLEY WATER COOPERATIVE has new board members, who all represent small farms which receive their potable water from the co-op. President is Ron Neeley. Vice President is Tuie Strong. Secretary-Treasurer is Vanessa Guy. Other board members are Jay Failing, MIchael Schwabe and John Weist. The co-op is also a member of the Ka`u Agricultural Water Cooperative District, which is working on restoration of old water tunnels from sugar plantation days and distribution of water for agriculture. The Wood Valley Water Cooperative maintains a state-licensed drinking water system and is planning to add agricultural water with separate lines, as funding becomes available and water sources on state lands are improved. For more information, contact Neely at rgn@isp.com. The Wood Valley Water Cooperative will hold a public meeting at Wood Valley Ranch on South Road at 9 a.m. this Saturday, April 5.

Macadamia felted coccids cover a tree branch. Photo from UH-CTAHR  
MACADAMIA FELTED COCCID RESEARCH AND CONTROL is the subject of a bill being considered by the state Legislature. HB1931 would appropriate funds to the Department of Agriculture to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of the pest. 
      According to testimony of Randy Mochizuki, Crop Control Superintendant at Royal Hawaiian Orchards in Pahala, the coccids, which were first found in 2009 damaging a few trees, have spread to 3,300 acres and destroyed or damaged a substantial number of trees.
      “If we don’t find a cost-effective control, it may lead to the demise of our Pahala orchard and 125 jobs,” Mochizuki said. “But, it may also severely impact our company as a whole and another 150 jobs.”
      Mochizuki said the pest has the potential of destroying other macadamia orchards in the state, affecting 1,500 acres, 570 farms and a $35-38 million industry.
      Randy Cabral, Senior Vice President of Operations for Royal Hawaiian Orchards, testified that, while the company and others have contributed $95,000 to UH-CTAHR to conduct MFC research, more funding is needed. “Currently, very little is known about the life cycle or vulnerabilities of the pest. In its native Australia, macadamia nut growers use considerable pesticides to control the MFC, but in Hawai`i, because we typically don’t use insecticides, we don’t have the equipment and resources to apply these types of pesticides to large, mature trees. Some pesticides seem to work but require adequate rainfall or adequate irrigation, neither of which is available.”
      The MFC has no significant natural predators in Hawai`i as compared to Australia, Cabral said.
      Cabral pointed out that macadamia farming is a vital source of employment in Ka`u, which has among the highest unemployment rate in the state. “Over 50 percent of Hawai`i’s macadamia tree acres are located in the Ka`u district, the area hardest hit by the MFC,” Cabral said.
      “We want you to know that without intervention, we have little chance of successfully continuing macadamia farming,” Cabral concluded.
Paul Alston
      John Cross, land manager for the Edmund C. Olson Trust II, testified that while the organization has contributed funding to research in partnership with Royal Hawaiian Orchards, “We need all the help we can get in trying to learn more about this pest and bring it under control. It is truly devastating and could threaten the entire Hawaiian macadamia nut industry.”
      The Hawai`i Macadamia Nut Association asks concerned farmers, orchard owners, workers and others to contact their legislators about the issue. Interested parties can find contact information and provide testimony at capitol.hawaii.gov.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

“THE BATTLE IS FAR FROM OVER,” said Honolulu attorney Paul Alston regarding a decision allowing the state to reduce Medicaid health care benefits for migrants covered under the Compact of Free Association. COFA allows Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia citizens, including Ka`u’s Marshallese community, to live and work in the United States in exchange for U.S. control of extensive strategic land and water in the Pacific Ocean.
      “We’re going to take this to the end. We will not give up,” Alston said, vowing to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, according to a story in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
      Alston said that if benefits are cut, migrants will be forced into very costly emergency room treatment, “and some you’re just going to kill. How crazy and how immoral is that?
Wes Awana
      “We got these people in our state who are allowed by federal law to be here from birth to death and the (health care) program that the state is offering as a substitute is garbage,” Alston told reporter Kristen Consillio. “All of this was done by the Lingle administration in a callous disregard for the health needs of this population. One would hope the Abercrombie administration would take a more economically rational and compassionate view as to how we treat these people who live among us.”
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

KA`U HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS VARSITY SOFTBALL team fell to the Hilo Vikings yesterday. Scores were 1-12. Hilo High School pitcher Aliesa Kaneshiro had eight strikeouts against the Trojans. Hitting singles were Shylee Tamura and Kamalani Fujikawa. Next game for the Trojans Softball is tomorrow, when Ka`u hosts the Kamehameha Warriors at 3 p.m.

WES AWANA OFFERS FREE `UKULELE LESSONS tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Volcano Art Center Gallery’s porch in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. Everyone is welcome to this Aloha Fridays event. Donations are welcome; park entrance fees apply.

STEWARDSHIP AT THE SUMMIT takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Volunteers meet at Kīlauea Visitor Center to help remove invasive Himalayan ginger from park trails. Free; park entrance fees apply.


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