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Moku Loa Group News Archives

Posted March 1, 2014

Fundraising Success
Mahalo to the Moku Loa Group members and shoppers who made the Maku‘u Farmers Market Rummage Sale on October 6, 2013 a success! Watch for another rummage sale in February, with more information to be posted on MLG's website and Facebook page. We are looking for donations of household, camping, furniture, sporting goods, books, electronics, kitchen, etc. items for the rummage sale.

Conservation Update

Conservation Presentation
Hear about how the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project and the State of Hawaii are working to preserve and protect the habitat of the endangered palila on Wednesday, February 12 at Thelma Parker Library in Waimea (7:00 p.m). The most recent palila count is approximately 1700 birds. In the past year, the State of Hawaii and the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project have built fences and removed 1800 sheep from Mauna Kea. The State is finally acting to fulfill requirements of previous lawsuits. Let's support them!

Dr. Renate Gassmann, Ph.D., DVM 1946-2013
Hawai'i conservationists recently lost a respected advocate, scientist, and activist, Dr. Renate Gassmann. She and her husband worked many years at Pohakuloa on Hawai‘i Island and Olinda on Maui with the 'alala and other endangered birds. She was a long-time member of Maui Group Sierra Club, Audubon and Hawai'i Conservation Council. On Maui, she took birders into the TNC Waikamoi Reserve to view rare birds like the Maui parrotbill as part of the birding tour company that she founded. More recently, she participated in a number of service and hike outings on the Big Island and shared her birding expertise.

Posted November 30, 2013
by Diane Ware, Outings Chair

Critical Habitat
The Moku Loa Group has submitted comments in support of proposed critical habitat for three endangered plant species in the Kona area. The proposed areas include seven units totaling approximately 18,766 acres (7,597 hectares) on the island of Hawai‘i. The three species (Bidens micrantha-ko'oko'olau; Menzoneuron kavaiense-uhiuhi; and Isodendrion pyrifolium-wahine noho kula) occur in the same lowland dry ecosystem and share the same threats from development, fire, and nonnative ungulates and plants.

Approximately 55 percent of the area being proposed as critical habitat is already designated as critical habitat for other plants and the Blackburn’s sphinx moth. Of the total acreage identified, 64 percent is located on state lands.  Some of the state lands are earmarked for development.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may recommend that development projects offset habitat loss by acquiring, restoring, and managing other suitable habitat in perpetuity. We are hopeful that developers will respect and place value on conserving this rare native dryland ecosystem and support the Service's and/or County's recommendations.

Waikaku'u South Kona Property
The Moku Loa Group supports the acquisition of Waikaku'u Ranch by the County Land Fund. In May 2013, Judge Ibarra ruled that permitting the development of the property violated the Kona Community Development Plan and failed to uphold the county’s constitutional duty to protect natural resources. The natural resources of Waikaku'u Ranch include native mesic forest, the watershed created by this old-growth forest, and the ocean below. Sierra Club members have documented 'ohi'a with 3'-4' diameters, hapu'u i'i, ala'alawainui, ie’ie and kopiko on the property.  This type of dense understory is crucial for native birds and for the future release of 'alala. The last wild ‘alala were found in the South Kona McCandless Ranch area, less than 10 miles from this property.

Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project
The Group has volunteered several weekends of reforestation, seed collection, and green pod collection for the Mauna Kea Forest Restoration Project, which seeks to expand bird habitat for the endangered palila. According to an article in Biological Conservation (2012) authored by Paul C. Banko, et al., the palila population has decreased 79% between 2003 and 2011 due to habitat degradation by feral ungulates and prolonged drought. The only solution to the drought problem is to increase the density of mamane trees, remove mouflon sheep from the habitat, and plant in areas of low mamane regeneration. We plan to sponsor a program early next year highlighting the plight of the palila, followed by another service project.

Posted July 1, 2013

Geothermal Update
by Cory Harden, Conservation Co-chair

Geothermal protections are being dismantled, new projects are forging ahead, and many risks from ongoing operations at Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) remain unabated.

For years, geothermal projects were limited to designated subzones, and county planning commissions could deny geothermal permits. But since the State passed Act 97 two years ago, geothermal wells can be drilled anywhere and counties can’t stop them.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs recently voted to invest in a consortium formed by Innovations Development Group (IDG) to bid on building a geothermal plant. Kealoha Estate offered IDG about 400 acres in Pohoiki for the plant--near the only safe ocean access in Puna.

Community protection plans have not kept pace with expansion plans. PGV’s history includes one blowout, one near-blowout, and a pentane explosion and fire. Few lessons have been learned, as an accidental release of hydrogen sulfide from PGV demonstrated this past March. Hawaii County Civil Defense emergency response teams measured the hydrogen sulfide levels at nearly 100 times higher than the levels recorded by PGV monitors. A voluntary evacuation center opened—but the evacuation route passed through a high-exposure area.

Last spring, residents reported losing sleep during 100 days of 24-hour noise from PGV’s drilling of a new well. Soon after, 25 homeowners applied for relocation assistance.

Sierra Club, with Puna Pono Alliance, has contacted DOH, Civil Defense, and County Planning, seeking ways to protect citizens from the hazards of ongoing and future geothermal operations.

Complete Streets Training
by Mālie Larish, Treasurer

During my childhood in Hilo, Hawai‘i, I depended almost completely on cars for transportation.  After moving to Bellingham, Washington to attend college, I was able to meet all of my mobility needs using public transit, my bicycle, and my own two feet. I was delighted with how this car-free lifestyle connected me with the outdoors and my community on a daily basis.

When I moved back to Hawai‘i, I was chagrined to have to rely on a car so heavily again, but I was also motivated to promote the development of car-free mobility for our islands. This prompted me to attend the Sierra Club’s Complete Streets Training this past December in Minnesota.

Posted January 1, 2013

Conservation Issues

High on the slopes of Mauna Loa, Kulani, (once known for its medium security prison) is rich with abundant native plants, birds and insects, and is threatened by invasive plants and ungulates. Our group had successfully lobbied for the inclusion of the Kulani area in the Pu'u Maka'ala Natural Area Reserve. This NAR is rated as the highest quality forest by the State and has suffered little or no logging. We provided constructive comments to the draft environmental assessment, which proposes fencing more acreage and working with partners to restore and preserve forest. The Moku Loa Group has already participated in a 3 day service trip and a hike in Kulani and looks forward to assisting in an effort to preserve this significant area for native bird, insect and plant biodiversity.

Moku Loa Group supports the expansions to Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge proposed in the Hakalau Draft Land Protection Plan and Environmental Assessment. The areas proposed include Maulua, a Koa unit adjacent to the refuge and McCandless lands in Kona adjacent to the Kona Forest Unit. We believe the expansion will have a positive effect on the preservation and restoration of Hawaii’s endangered birds and the island's ecosystems as a whole, It will protect high quality, bio-diverse habitat, ensure connectivity between habitats, and decrease fragmentation and invasive threats.  From an economic and conservation standpoint, it is better to preserve an intact forest such as the Koa Forest Property and concentrate timber operations on land that has already been degraded by cattle.  The proposed addition to the Kona Forest unit could be important to the recovery of the 'alala.  According to the 2009 Revised Recovery Plan for the 'Alala, the success of 'alala reintroduction depends on the restoration of closed canopy forests.

Waikaku`u, an old growth rainforest on the southern slopes of Mauna Loa, provides critical watershed services to the village of Miloi`i and the springs that support Kona’s abundant ulua fishery. Our group provided testimony at the Hawaii County Board of Appeals regarding a planned unit development that threatens the thousand year-old `ohi`a /kopiko forest.
Kahuku, a three-thousand-acre parcel that was once part of the proposed Hawaiian Riviera resort, is prized by local residents and fishermen for the access to Manuka via Road to the Sea in south Kona. The group has supported the county purchase of the land utilizing funds from the Open Space (2%) fund, and Legacy Lands funding, which were approved in May. The pristine anchialine pools in extensive water cracks along the coast are host to rare and unique organisms adapted to the brackish water. The very extensive cave system on the mauka slopes provided water for the ancient Hawaiian village along the coast as well. Biologically, lava tubes in this area  display greater diversity and more novel species than lava tubes in other areas studied.
An article highlighting Sierra Club’s support is at this link:
The Ka`u Calendar News Briefs, Hawai`i Island: Ka`u News Briefs May 17, 2012

Geothermal proposals by HELCO, state officials and private developers to expand development on Hawaii island have  aroused the concern of local residents and group members, regarding the proximity  of the development to rural communities, the absence of H2S standards for vulnerable populations, and the lack of evacuation planning, noxious H2S venting, well blowout, numerous emergency declarations, and resident relocations.  The group is reviewing Sierra Club’s geothermal policy to reflect two decades of experience with the renewable power generation. 

Donna Buell - Treasurer of the National Sierra Club Board of Directors visits with Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers-Hawaii Chapter Chairon the Big Island.

Posted January 1, 2012


Chapter Conservation Chairs Debbie Ward and Lucienne DeNaie are soliciting interest in a statewide conservation committee for

  1. Issues that cross island boundaries, such as DLNR mammal hunting rules, and more.
  2. Envision/propose legislative action that have multi- island impacts, such as invasive sp, GMO labeling
  3. Taking initiative on statewide policy issues, such as  land use,  agriculture /open space, energy
  4. Training, as needed on environmental law, strategies, and resources
  5. Others as suggested

We propose to set up an informal working group, with members identified by island, interests, expertise. Members would prioritize issues and identify working group members, involve Capitol Watch members/champions, and interact with Hawaii Chapter Excom members.  We propose to meet by conference call for specific issues, and consider meeting quarterly before ExCom meetings (some members may be on both committees), and report to Excom with action items quarterly.  If you, or people you know, are interested, please contact Debbie Ward at dward@hawaii.edu.

The Conservation Committee recently provided a letter of support to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture regarding the release of a bio-control agent to reduce the reproductive efficiency of the strawberry guava, which is invading the native forests on all islands, and imperiling the watersheds.


Moku Loa Group Conservation Committee
by Debbie Ward

Moku Loa Group members are actively contributing testimony for numerous current controversial project proposals, including Aina Koa Pono biofuels, the Kaloko Makai development above the Kaloko Honokohau NP, Kahuku Village at historically significant Pohue Bay, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s management plan, Hu Honua biofuels, and Papaikou beach access.

Mauna Kea management was the issue that brought Sierra Club and other petitioners to the Intermediate Court of Appeals in November.  Marti Townsend of KAHEA represented the petitioners, and UH attorney Lisa Munger claimed that the comprehensive management plan “does nothing.”  The arguments are online at http://www.courts.state.hi.us/courts/oral_arguments/archive/oaica30397.html

MLG member Debbie Ward is a petitioner in the BLNR contested case hearing regarding the proposal to build one of the world’s largest telescopes on the undisturbed northern plateau of Mauna Kea. She reports that the testimony phase has ended, and the Hearing Officer will make a recommendation to the BLNR early next year. The Conservation Committee meets every fourth Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. for potluck and 6 p.m. for meeting at the Kea`au Community Center.

Update on Pohakuloa
by Cory Harden

Regarding the Army’s modernization plan for Pohakuloa, we commend them on several counts: Acknowledging the U.S. takeover of the Kingdom of Hawai`i; including a thoughtful description of the spiritual and cultural significance of Pohakuloa; mentioning old military sites, and holding this open house and public hearing.

However, we have many concerns:

  • Is this the only place in the world this training can be done? Why was Pohakuloa the only place considered?
  • Why does the EIS say there’s no danger from depleted uranium? Only a few fragments of DU spotting rounds were found at Pohakuloa, but there may be 2,000. Where are they?
  • Why did DU air monitoring, as planned last year, have air filters with pores that were ten times too large?
  • Why is it too dangerous to hunt for DU in the impact area—but safe to send bulldozers to crush lava for a one- by two-mile battle course?
  • Is the training once done at Makua coming to Pohakuloa? Makua training brought fires that consumed thousands of acres in the past thirteen years. At Pohakuloa, the weeklong fire last year (not caused by the military) showed what could happen in a tinderbox area with no County water.
  • Pohakuloa is a significant cultural area with almost 500 reported archeological sites. But archeological studies and historical consultation aren’t complete, so the public can’t review them.
  • The EIS says wildlife would “temporarily leave the area during periods of loud noise and disturbance, but may return.” How would you fare if, every few months, you were chased out of your home?

And we ask again: Why is there so much money for new military projects, and so little for cleaning up hazardous old sites?

Posted September 1, 2011

Petroglyphs, Turtles, Lava Flows and…Hotels?

by Cory Harden

Here’s what we had to say about the $1 billion-plus Kahuku Village proposed by a Delaware company for the Pohue Bay area in Ka’u. 

 We commend Nani Kahuku ‘Aina for supporting efforts to protect turtles, and for responding to public input by dropping plans for a Mauka Village and airport, planning to leave 90% of the land undeveloped, planning trails, sidewalks, pedestrian and bike paths, and planning energy conservation. But serious concerns remain.

 Lava flows could race through this volcanic high-hazard area in two hours—but evacuation would take four to five hours. 9,000 evacuees would have to drive towards the flow to reach the highway escape route—which might be blocked by lava. Many people would be tourists who might not take warnings seriously and might not know what to do. An extended eruption could cut off the highway for months.
 Tsunamis also pose risks, but analysis is inadequate. And ground cracks pose risks to structures,  children, and pets.

 Human-caused risks include already overstretched police, fire and medical services, and an old bombing range in the area that should be evaluated for possible hazards.

 Protection plans for the wealth of natural and cultural resources appear inadequate. It seems unrealistic that the Hawaiian Heritage Center could garner enough funding for protection, given a daily population of over 9,000, mostly visitors unfamiliar with our ecosystems, constantly coming and going, requiring extensive, repeated education. DEIS statements about protection seem contradictory: it proposes public access for swimming, fishing, and camping, then proposes viewing of the shoreline buffer zone from walkways. The Center name seems at odds with its mission: “balance property ownership needs with the needs of the Ka’u district”. County and State offices, hampered by understaffing, would have difficulty overseeing impact mitigation.

 We are concerned that PBR, author of the DEIS, seems not to have anticipated problems when it did the Hokulia EIS—runoff, charges of improper handling of burials and cultural sites, a ruling that it was an urban project illegally built on agricultural land, and a lawsuit to block a highway that developers needed to build.

 Marine life in the area (which may be the most important turtle nesting area in the state) includes the threatened green sea turtle, the endangered Hawksbill turtle,  endangered Hawaiian monk seals, and two rare shrimp.  Surveyors called the anchialine ponds “exceptional” and “extremely fragile” and warned that they “support and affect” all wildlife in the area.

 The wildlife survey only covered a small part of the property. It reported no bats, though there have been sightings in the general area. The plant survey may have missed some species, since it was done after a drought.

 The extensive archaeological features are a window into the past for one of the earliest places in Hawai’i settled by Polynesian voyagers, and little disturbed by modern times. The area has two heiau—one said to be used for human sacrifice and built by ‘Umi; a fishing shrine; six burial features; one of largest abrader quarries recorded in Hawai’i; vast petroglyph fields; remains of settlements; and trails. Some features may have been missed, since the archaeological survey appears inadequate for the significance, acreage, and number of sites.

 It is difficult to imagine these lands of rich natural and cultural resources and scenic beauty subjected to a 1,600-acre mixed-use village, 1,650 single- and multifamily units for residents and visitors, helicopter facility, golf course, wastewater treatment plant, three water reservoirs, and possibly a grocery store, retail stores, restaurants, offices, a bio-fuel power generating facility, and other commercial facilities.

 Economic benefits are uncertain. Taxpayers would be impacted by increased property taxes; building of roads, utilities, and sewers; and perhaps subsidized home insurance in this high lava hazard area. (The new roads would not prevent worse traffic.) Occupancy rates for existing hotels on Hawai’i Island are not encouraging. For golf courses, there are reports that three existing courses in Ka’u operate at a loss.
 Community support may be lacking. Since the Ka’u Community Development Plan is still being written, it is not clear that the project will follow it. For the larger version of the project in 2009, many letters in opposition were individually written, while many in support were form letters.

 It is disturbing that the project manager said a “use or lose” requirement would be “odd”. (“Use or lose” means if the land is sold, it reverts to the old zoning and old land use classification.) There are rumors of involvement by Charles Chidiac, of the failed Riviera resort proposed for this area; these should be confirmed or denied.

 Our recommendation:
 We strongly support entrusting these lands, possibly through a land exchange, to a public and/or non-profit entity with the background and resources to ensure they are protected.

 What you can do:
 Watch for Kahuku Village at upcoming meetings of the State Land Board and County Planning Commission.

Mauna Kea
Moku Loa Group members have been attending the August contested case hearing regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope project proposed for the northern slope of Mauna Kea’s summit area.  “The National Park Service contends that the permanent destruction of any surface geologic structures within the Mauna Kea National Natural Landmark is significant and it denigrates from its overall status”, said Rory Westberg, NPS Acting Regional Director, in the final EIS. While TMT EIS planner Jim Hayes confirmed that the project would add an additional increment to the already significant impact to the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea, he claimed that the proposal did could still meet Conservation District criteria, a statement contested by petitioners. 

The comprehensive management plan (CMP) is plan in name only, apparently; thirteen years have passed since the Legislative Auditor faulted UH and DLNR for lapses in management, but there is still no burial treatment plan, no invasive species control and rapid response permits, and no plan to deal with hazardous waste and petroleum spills according to witnesses for the university.  Questions posed to the UH/TMT planner Gary Sanders revealed that while “substantial rent” was promised, no negotiations have taken place, and no rent would be paid before 2018 at the earliest. Although $1.3 billion would be needed to construct the telescope, and more to decommission it, the funders were aware that the UH General Lease expires in 2033, there have been no negotiations to extend the lease. Thus it would appear that astronomy at the TMT site could be limited to a ten year period. The hearing concludes September, with decision-making to follow.

MLG members contributed over $3200 to KAHEA for litigation expenses to protect Mauna Kea.

Public Lands Development Corporation  Act 55
Little-noticed during the legislative session, Act 55 was signed into law by the governor over protests from several conservation organizations. Act 55 raids DLNR land conservation fund to hire an Executive Director and staff for the Public Lands Development Corporation, to “ identify public lands that may be suitable for development…enter public-private agreements to …develop the public lands”, and “projects pursuant to this chapter shall be exempt from all statutes, ordinances, charter provisions, and rules of any government agency relating to special improvement district assessments or requirements; land use, zoning, and construction standards….” We will be looking into the legality and consequences of this bill; if you would like to be informed, please contact the Hawaii Chapter Conservation committee.

Nani Kahuku
Nani Kahuku, a proposed development in Ka`u includes Pohue Bay turtle nesting area and contains a multitude of cultural and archaeological sites and known historic trails. EIS comments are due about Sept. 21. As proposed, 1600 acres would be changed from conservation to urban. However it can’t go forward till the Ka‘u Community Development Plan is completed. It also needs Land Use Commission and County General Plan approval. Hawaii County planners are concerned about evacuation since lava flows in the area are known to advance rapidly. 

Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) expansion proposals continue apace. The Army is proposing enormous modernization projects at Pohakuloa and helicopter landings on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa; High altitude (HAMET) helicopter training proposed for BLNR approval in September would take place over or near critical habitat for palila, `ua`a`u, `io, nene.

Hu Honua Biomass burning facility
EPA expects that particulate pollution could be much higher than stated in documents filed with DOH, which approved the air quality permits last week.

Papaikou public access
Access has been interrupted or denied by landowners who close a historic trail to the beach. Moku Loa Group may participate in support of litigation with Surfrider Foundation to assure the public’s prescriptive rights to use the trail. 

Moku Loa members have provided testimony regarding Aina Koa Pono bio-energy contract with HELCO at the PUC , depleted uranium at Pohakuloa training area, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park overflights, and HAVO management plan,  Saddle Road invasive species management, Hilo landfill expansion, and many other issues.  Contact Mary Marvin Porter and Cory Harden, conservation co-chairs for more information. 


For Chapter Excom:

Deborah J Ward
Debbie is a conservation activist with a love of native forest wildlife, wild coastal open space and the geologic wilderness of lavascapes.  She has networked successfully with grass-roots activists to protect wild streams, Honoli`i, upland koa forests, and bird habitat, and has worked to improve management of Mauna Kea summit lands. A Sierra Club member since the early 80’s, mentored by Lorrin Gill, Mae Mull and Nelson Ho, Debbie has served on Moku Loa Group’s ExComm in multiple capacities, including chair, treasurer, and conservation chair.  She has retired from the University of Hawaii, is farming organically in Puna, and supports local sustainable food and energy sourcing.  Debbie seeks to engage more members in conservation work through the Chapter Conservation Committee.

For Moku Loa Group Excom:

Diane Ware
I have been an outings leader for over 12 years offering backpacking, beach camping and service trips with a focus on conservation. I have been on the board for several years advocating ecosystems conservation using a holistic approach rather than species specific approach. I've made comments for the group on issues such as protecting our reefs from aquarium fish collecting, and supporting expanding NARS on the Big Island. I support alternative energy only if projects can substantiate environmental impacts. Member input and expertise on this subject is encouraged.

Phil Barnes
I have been an active member of the Sierra Club for over 30 years. I have served several terms on the Moku Loa board since I moved to Hawaii full time in 1998.  I served as Group Chair from 2001 to 2003.  I have been an outings leader for over ten years.  Recently I have become active in the Democratic Party and currently serve as Vice-Chair of the Hawaii County Democratic Party for East Hawaii.  I serve as the Hawaii Island contact for the party's Environmental Caucus.  My goal for the group if elected is to foster a more proactive and less reactive approach to dealing with the myriad of environmental issues with a focus on renewable energy generation.

Jon Olson
I am ready and willing to serve. I have been an active Club member since 1980 and have been your environmental delegate to the HELCO electrical Integrated Resource Planning team from the 1990's through 2005. I led the charge for the cleanup of Sand Hill on the Puna Coast. This unique geologic feature had turned into a junkyard. It took several weekends with volunteers to remove many truckloads of discarded furniture, refrigerators, junk cars and household refuse. I have been a staunch recycler throughout my life and have owned several businesses that recycled equipment and materials.  I have been a staunch advocate for community participation in governmental planning and played key roles from 1995 onwards. 

Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers
Roberta is a resident of the Big Island and has been a member of the Sierra Club for 23 years. She is an environmental educator at Hawaii Community College, actively involved in Outings and fundraising for Moku Loa Group, and leads service learning field trips for youth through the college. She is currently serving as Moku Loa Group Chair, Hawaii Chapter Excom secretary and Council of Club Leaders Delegate and Budget Officer.
Roberta is the Hawaii Community College Earth Fair coordinator and has previously served as Hawaii Chapter Chair and Council of Club leaders vice chair. She believes that actively involving youth in Sierra Club activities will strengthen our presence and that education is the key to environmental protection and preservation.


HELP SUPPORT CHANGES TO THE Hawaii County Charter OPEN SPACE funding provisions. This will let the people decide at the polls in 2012 whether or not to make minimum deposits of 2% of our property taxes to the land fund.

DIDN’T WE ALREADY VOTE ON THIS?  Yes, twice! Once in 2006 as a County ordinance for 2% of our property taxes to be set aside, (which was later suspended by the Council and Mayor).  Again, in 2010 for a 1% Charter amendment (which is currently only $2 million per year).  57% of us voted twice to support these measures!! Remember - The Charter over-rides the County ordinances.

SAVE THESE DATES TO TESTIFY-If the Charter amendment fails at first reading the amendment dies. It will be heard on September 7 in Hilo, at the 2:30 Finance Committee and September 21 in Kona. Second reading on October 5 in Hilo and October 19 in Kona.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO GET THIS ON THE BALLOT FOR 2012----It is required to get this proposed Charter amendment through the committee and 3 readings to get this on the ballot to let the voters decide ONCE AGAIN. 
 Charter amendments need 6 council members to vote YES! So please email and ask the council members:    
<bsmart@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <dikeda@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <donishi@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <fblas@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <jyoshimoto@co.hawaii.hi.us>, "Brenda Ford" <bford@co.hawaii.hi.us>, "Dominic Yagong" <dyagong@co.hawaii.hi.us>, "Pete Hoffmann" <phoffmann@co.hawaii.hi.us>, "Pilago, Angel" <apilago@co.hawaii.hi.us>, <counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us>,

To find the Council members phone numbers go to: http://www.hawaii-county.com/council/districts.htm


1. We will be assured that 2% of our property taxes will be deposited each year at budget time.  Remember the Mayor and Council suspended deposits to the fund from 2009 to 2011, which meant we did not have $8 million to acquire land during that time. They would be required by the County's highest law to deposit the 2% amount.
2. Charter amendments can only be changed by a vote of the people, not the Council or Mayor.
3. Remember 2% of our property taxes is approximately $4 million per year. The great “gift” of the land fund is to obtain matching funds.  $4 million becomes $8 million if the county gets dollar-for-dollar matching funds. So far the county has obtained $2.145 in matching funds.
4. There are still MANY properties our communities want to acquire – see the list below compiled from the Public Access and Open Space Commission’s recommended List of properties sent to the Mayor further down in this article.
5. With a 2% charter amendment in place we won’t waste citizens’ time in going to council meetings during budget hearings to testify AND we won't waste council member's time having to listen to testimony.

 Properties Acquired by the County since 2006* costing Hawaii County $11,297,000:
1. Waipio Look out for  $902,145. (Hamakua Coast)   (No matching funds)
2. Kawa Bay (Puna)  $1.9 million County with $1.2 from the State Legacy Lands and funds from US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the endangered Hawksbill Turtle
3. Kaiholena North (Kohala)   $6.55 million with no matching funds
4. Pao’o  (Kohala)  $945, 000.00 with $945,000. From NOAA

2% Land Fund Top Picks by the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Commission

SUSPENDING DEPOSITS TO THE FUND: As you can see there are still many properties to be acquired, costing millions of dollars.  The county’s suspending deposits to the fund for two years  (2009-2010) really slowed down the acquisition program. 
The following properties were on the Commission's recommended list to the Mayor from 2001-2010, but have not been acquired. 
Pohoiki Bay  (Puna), Keawenui Access Easement  (Kohala), Hamakua Springs Agricultural Conservation Easement (Hamakua), Hapu‘u to Kapanai‘a Cultural Corridor (North Kohala), Kawa  (Ka’u), Kingman Trust (Kona), Kahuku Coastal Property (Ka’u), Kaiholena-south  (Kohala), Kukuipahu-Ha‘ena Corridor (Kohala), Mahukona  (Kohala), Honolulu Landing (Puna), Wai'ele  (Puna), Puapua'a (Kona), O’oma II (Kona)
* The Open Space Commission’s Annual Reports and the Financial Data can be found at 

To read Bill 87 go to www.dhecht.com or contact Debbie Hecht 989-3222, hecht.deb@gmail.com

Posted June 1, 2011

Army Helicopters on Hawai`i Island Mountains
by Cory Harden

Sierra Club is calling for a Federal Environmental Impact Statement for high-altitude Army helicopter training proposed for Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Some Hawai’i Island residents are calling for a Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) meeting in Hilo. The Army is seeking a permit with no public meetings, though the helicopters would expand Pohakuloa training into the Conservation District. The Army re-wrote its Environmental Assessment (EA), but it is still inadequate.

No public meetings were held on the EA, or on permits for similar training done earlier. Maps printed from the online EA couldn’t even be seen with a magnifying glass. Sierra Club didn’t receive a paper EA till the working day before the comment deadline. Many affected parties were left out of consultation.

Pilots are now sent to Colorado for training, and may be able to continue that. Only two hours flight time are needed per pilot.

Safety analysis is inadequate for helicopter maneuvers so challenging they require three weeks of specialized training. The EA says nothing about eight fatalities from Army helicopter crashes in Hawai’i in 2001 and 2009. It omits fatal military helicopter crashes in 1996 and 2011, plus one forced landing in 2011, in Hawai’i. It omits two recent high-altitude helicopter crashes in Colorado—one fatal. It does not say why an Army helicopter missed a Mauna Kea landing zone by three miles in 2003, or discuss flying debris and noise from future helicopters landing next to the Mauna Loa road.

The EA does not say how pilots will confirm that landing zones are clear at night. It does not say whether lights will used to avoid aircraft collisions, nor evaluate any impacts to people and wildlife from lights.

Noise is evaluated using day-night and even annual averages, plus a method that under-estimates low-frequency noise. Noise maps contradict the text. An Army (not independent) study is the only one cited re. noise impacts on wildlife. It’s unclear if one, or more, helicopters are assumed in noise analysis, though each mountain may get three helicopters at a time.

Helicopters will fly right over the only designated critical habitat for endangered palila birds. Only 1,200 palila may be left. 90% of known palila and all successful breeding happen on the southwest side of Mauna Kea. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found petrel surveys inadequate. Three landing zones are inside ‘io range. One is just outside a nene sanctuary. Bats have been seen near some landing zones. Helicopters may fly at 200 feet in areas one mile wide above six landing zones, but some biological surveys only cover about one-tenth of that area.

The EA cites the high level of visual (and noise) impacts from current air trafiic---but instead of analyzing cumulative impacts, uses this as a rationale for generating more impacts. The EA claims visual and noise impacts on cultural practitioners, hunters, hikers, and sightseers will be insignificant.

The EA doesn’t say when helicopter training will end.

Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa Sought for Multiple Use
by Deborah Ward

While the Army proposes to expand the Pohakuoa Training Area into highly sensitive cultural resource and native plant habitat for the Stryker brigade, and plans to train hundreds of helicopter pilots in high-elevation simulations in endangered palila, petrel, and `io habitat within the ceded lands designated Conservation District, the BLNR  has issued a provisional permit for a huge new expansion on the northern plateau on Mauna Kea. The board determined that a contested case hearing must be held before the UH could proceed, and seven petitioners will make the case for permit denial before a hearing officer in August. (To read more, go to www.KAHEA.org). Sierra Club, which prevailed in court in 2006 to compel the development of a comprehensive management plan, was recently mentioned in the news when the Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled that our pro bono attorneys could not recover fees and court costs for their extensive work to compel the state to follow its own rules.

Posted March 1, 2011

MLG Judgers
Excom members attend a Mahalo Dinner to thank Edith Worsencroft for her 10 years of service as Newsletter Editor. (From left to right) Roberta Brashear-Kaufers, Cory Harden, Edith Worsencroft, Nelson Ho, Debbie Ward and Fred Stone.

by Excomm

Edith has volunteered for the past ten years as the Moku Loa Group Newsletter editor.  Such a thankless job, she has organized, edited, typed and taken the newsletter to the printer.  After the printing, she labeled and mailed four editions per year to our appreciative Moku Loa Group members.  In addition, she has sent the articles to our Chapter for inclusion in “Malama” and also to Terry Reim, our webmaster, for inclusion on the MLG website.  Edith has decided to “retire and we will be searching for someone to fill her shoes.  MAHALO Edith for all of your tireless work; you will certainly be missed.

by Debbie Ward

As Sierra Club members know, we have spent many years working to ensure that the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea are protected. Members have offered testimony, served on committees, conducted research, written letters, consulted in legislative audits, participated in contested case hearing and successful litigation, and more, over the past thirty years. While some conditions have improved, the expansion of industrialization in the conservation district continues apace.

On the last Friday in February, the Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a permit for the eighteen story Thirty Meter Telescope on the northern plateau, in spite of requests for a contested case hearing on the application. The Sierra Club joined others in calling for the hearing because due process on the comprehensive management plan (CMP) is still in contest; the Sierra Club is a party to a contested case request being considered by the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and we fully expect that the CMP hearing will expose the deficiencies and inconsistencies of the plan, and offer information not considered. The Board ordered that the hearing be conducted by a hearing officer, and we will keep you informed.

by Debbie Hecht

There is growing support from Big Island residents to ask the Abercrombie administration for a 2,000-foot setback on all state owned lands.  This will preserve almost 100 miles of coastline. This measure will cost nothing because the State and we the taxpayers/ residents own this property

A 2, 000-foot easement for a coastline buffer zone will help to protect and link numerous cultural sites and the National Parks on Hawaii Island. The buffer zone will provide space for a parallel trail (to the 175-mile long Ala Kahakai Trail) for hiking and biking and landing places for canoes and kayaks. These trails could be the basis for an eco-tourism industry and provide jobs for residents. The zone will protect access to beaches, for fishing, gathering, camping, surfing and ocean sports for all people. It will protect the coral reefs from degradation caused by sedimentation from grubbing and grading, which will provide abundant habitat for fish, all ocean species and protect fishing.

We propose that the state of Hawaii shall establish a 2,000 foot easement for a coastline buffer zone on all state owned lands that shall comprise a no-build zone (except for necessary park structures), for the use and enjoyment of all of the people of Hawai’i in perpetuity, so that this land can never be sold, mortgaged, traded or re-zoned. For more information go to www.dhecht.com. If you would like to be kept informed, send an email to: hecht.deb@gmail.com

by Deborah Ward

The Sierra Club's Moku Loa Group recently recognized eight outstanding students for research on Hawaii's environment at the Hawaii District Science and Engineering Fair held Saturday, February 13, 2010 in Hilo.

In the senior research division, Shalila de Bourmont  received the Mae Mull Award for research projects entitled “Anti-Carcinogenic Properties of fungal Endophytes Derived from Native Hawaiian Plants ”.  In the Junior Research Division, Dylan Giardina  was recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to the outstanding junior research projects relating to the environment of Hawai'i. This projects was entitled “The Relationships between Water Clarity and Bacteria in Hilo Bay”. In the Junior Research in Physical Science, Nicholas Winters  received the Don Worsencroft award for the project " Born Again Batteries: Using Alkaline Batteries to Their Fullest ". 

Dr. Worsencroft was a Professor of physical science at Hawaii Community College.  In the Junior Display division, Lilah Lough was recognized for the display entitled " Whale Migration " with the Ruth Lani Stemmermann Award.  Lani Stemmermann was a plant ecologist at UH Hilo and Hawaii Community College who specialized in Hawaiian botany.  Moku Loa Group also presented two additional awards for Earth Science and environmental science relating to Hawaii. The recipients were Kamrie Koi, William Mitchell, Wen Hui Yang , for a project entitled " Effects of global Warming on the Local Environment of Ka`u ”.

Environmental Scholars are Recognized
MLG Judgers
MLG judges at the 25th Anniversary of the Hawaii District Science and Engineering Fair, held February 19th at Imiloa in Hilo. Pictured in the photo from left to right are Phil Barnes, Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers, Malie Larish, Carly Vierra, and Debbie Ward.

The students each received certificates and checks for $50.00. Through these awards, the Sierra Club members hope to honor scientists active in protecting our native ecosystems, and to encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics related to the Hawaiian environment.

Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its memorial fund to support the Science Fair and other educational programs for students. Tax deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to the club c/o Moku Loa Group P.O.Box 1137 Hilo HI 96721.  For more information, contact Deborah Ward at 966-7361.

Posted December 1, 2010

by Phil Barnes
This will be the last hard copy of the Moku Loa Newsletter that you will be receiving.  There are several reasons for this move.  Our long-time newsletter editor, Edith Worsencroft, has resigned from the position after over ten years of hard work on the Club’s behalf.  Many thanks to this most dedicated volunteer.  The savings in the cost of paper and postage will also now be available for focusing on our environmental advocacy mission.  And, of course there is our concern to save trees by reducing our paper use.  As before, you will continue to receive a hard copy of the Chapter quarterly newsletter, “Malama.”  Moku Loa news articles and outings will be listed in this newsletter.  In order to further save resources, you can contact the Chapter at our website, www.hi.sierraclub.org and request to receive “Malama” electronically rather than in hard copy.  You can also receive additional Moku Loa news by going to the Chapter website; and clicking on the Moku Loa link, http://www.hi.sierraclub.org

With this change we are now looking for a Moku Loa Information Coordinator to get information to our webmaster, Terry Reim, so that it can be posted electronically on the website.  Contact Al Beeman  (albeeman@gmail.com) or Edith (edithsews28@gmail.com) if you would be interested in providing this valuable service for the Club.

by Jan Moon
Long time Moku Loa Group Executive Committee member and Outings leader, Wallace “Bud” Doty, died July 17, 2010 on the Big Island.

A former Road Manager at Pahala Sugar Plantation, he had access to many gated, remote camping and wilderness areas.  He was a volunteer Red Cross teacher and many MLG outings leaders received leader’s and safety qualifications from him.  He loved the nature and natural history of this island, and gladly shared his knowledge   He was an avid outdoorsman and led many major hikes and wilderness camping trips here, including Waiahukini near South Point, Waikapuna below Naalehu, Ku Ranchlands and across Haleakala Crater.

He was a great storyteller and would educate us all about the cultural and natural history of these remote and special places.  He loved to make Poisson Cru, Tahiti’s national dish in which lemon juice, mixed with coconut juice and other ingredients, cooked the raw fish.  The Thanksgiving wilderness camps where he furnished all the fixings for several days were memorable.  We all give thanks for the time he gave to us.  Celebration of his life was held on Saturday, August 15, at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Hilo.

by Diane Ware
Aquarium Reef Fish Collection Ever wonder where all this (Tangs) have gone?  Moku Loa Group Board has decided to advocate for more regulation and a possible moratorium on the collection of aquarium reef fish for export (a number of them endemic) until such time as taking these fishes can be documented to be sustainable to the ecosystem and humanity.  Pete Hoffmann has put forward to the County Council a resolution that will do just that; and we will be testifying in support.  There is currently a permit process and report of takes (over 700,000/year), but no meaningful regulation to ensure these fish will not be depleted or will be here for the next generation to contribute to the eco-tourism economy.  We were alerted to this issue by Rene Umberger, a dive operator from Maui who spoke before our council and the recent news that some 600 fish were dumped in trash cana at the Honokohau Harbor.  More info: http://www.forthefishes.org.

Preserving Important Conservation and Native Forest Ecosystems
.  `O`oma reclassification from State Conservation to Urban zoning is still under consideration by the LUC after several public hearings.  The Group opposed this reclassification of coastal land just south of Ke`ahole Airport for a 1200-unit residential and 300-unit commercial spaces.  This land has important natural and cultural resources with open space and view planes worthy of protection. We are losing thousands of acres of important conservation land to development.  Other issues involved are viability of development adjacent to the airport and its noise, preserving water quality, lack of provisions for an overwhelmed infrastructure, negative impacts on long-time residents.

We are currently trying to work with private land owners logging or wanting to log koa and/or sandalwood on up to 20,000 acres of conservation- and agriculture-zoned land north of Hilo and in South Kona.  Any ideas for helping to facilitate preservation will be appreciated.  Contact Diane Ware (967-8642) or Cory Harden (968-8965).

by Debbie Hecht
The Charter Commission meets every ten years to amend our County charter, which is the highest law of Hawai`i County.  The Commission has passed a not less than 1% Land Fund amendment.  This will appear on the ballot on November 2nd.  As a charter amendment, it can be changed only by a vote of the people.  This will take the Land Fund allotment out of the budget wrangling of the County Council and Mayor each year.  Please vote YES and pass the word along to your friends and neighbors.  If this amendment passes, it will mean that the County will have at least 1% of our property taxes set aside each year to obtain 100% matching funds to purchase land to preserve access to the ocean, important agricultural lands, cultural sites and other important lands.  1% of our property taxes amounts to approximately $2,000,000; with matching funds the County could have $4,000,000 to purchase land.  If we elect a favorable County Council, we may be able to raise the amount again to 2% or more.  Ask the candidates where they stand on this issue.  In Addition, 2% of our property taxes is still an ordinance, and the County Council and Mayor can still approve of more money to obtain land.  Deposits to the land fund are due to resume as of July 1, 2011.  Please support this!  The Land Fund is working!  So far the County has obtained Waipio Lookout, Kawa Bay.  The second property in District 5 is pending, Pao`o and Kaiholena in Kohala.  PLEASE VOTE YES!

To see info about the Land Fund, go to www.dhecht.com.  If you have questions, call Debbie Hecht (989-3222), or email hecht.deb@gmail.com.

Posted September 1, 2010


The best thing you can do for Hawai`i’s environment is to vote. Putting the right people in office is more than half the battle in our conservation work. The Sierra Club has done its best to select the best applicants for the job. Please support these candidates.

 All candidates say they support Hawai`i’s environment, but who’s going to turn words into action?  The Sierra Club, Hawai`i Chapter, and its four island groups, sorted through all the candidates and selected the best choices for protecting the `aina.  The Sierra Club’s endorsement process involved sending detailed surveys out to the candidates, interviewing many of them, and reviewing their records.  All endorsements received at lest a two-thirds vote of two Sierra Club bodies in order to be approved.

MLG ENDOREMENTS:  Hawai’i County Council

District 1 – Dominic Yagong
District 5 – Barbara Lively and James Weatherford –Dual endorsement
District 6 – Brittany Smart
District 7 – Brenda Ford
District 8 – Angel Pilago
District 9 – Peter Hoffman

Governor of the State of Hawai`i
:  Neil Abercrombie 
Abercrombie receives the green thumb up based on his environmental
record and detailed plan for Hawai`i’s future.

Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawai`i: 
Gary Hooser

U.S. House:
  Mazie Hirono, Colleen Hanabusa

State Senate:
  Russell S. Kokubun (District 2 – Waiakea Uka, Kalapana, Volcano, Kahuku)

State House:
Mark M. Nakashima (District 1 – North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo)
Faye P. Hanohano (District 4 – Puna, Pahoa, Hawaiian Acres, Kalapana)

Denny Coffman
(District 6 – North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau)

Cindy Evans
(District 7 – North Kona, South Kohala)

Posted June 1, 2010

by Nelson Ho

Recent actions of the University of Hawai`i have proved troubling to management of the summit. The UH appointed Mauna Kea Management Board is supposed to represent the public’s interest, but has been acting like the classic fox guarding the hen house. Their decisions continue to increase the bad land use practices that generated this thirty-five year history of bad policy and land use mismanagement.

To attract the University of California and Cal Tech Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the University of Hawai`i system will stand in for the developer, defend defective logic in their EIS, and pay for the cost of defending the TMT proposal with Hawai`i taxpayer dollars.


  • If built, the TMT proposal will add to the significant, adverse and substantial impacts to the cultural and natural resources of Mauna Kea.
  • The TMT proposal would permanently alter an undeveloped portion of the northern plateau.
  • The TMT proposal would unleash a whole new era of summit development, allowing even larger telescopes of 50 or 100 meters in size.
  • TMT approval will set up a paradigm whereby piece-meal cultural and natural resource protections happen only when the development continues.
  • UC and Cal Tech hope to break the 1968 Science Reserve lease because they want assurances that TMT can operate beyond 2033. These alterations of the lease will set a dangerous precedent for the mountain.
  • The TMT project significantly erodes the value of environmental review by diminishing the criteria for assessing the significance of adverse impacts and their potential for halting or fundamentally altering a proposal.
  • TMT’s attempt to substitute a “community benefits package” for payment of fair market lease rents (as required by law) significantly harms community efforts to address longstanding lease rent inequities in the use of conservation lands for observatories without just, proper and legal compensation

Stay tuned; the UH Board of Regents is now poised to affirm these actions and begin the Conservation District Use Permit process.

by Debbie Hecht

In the past year the Moku Loa Group has made comments on various conservation issues facing our island.

We have sent comments in support of:


Integrated Resources and Solid Waste Management – the Path to Zero Waste. It was reported in the Hilo Tribune that the amount of trash entering the Hilo landfill has declined in the past year. Implementation of this plan will continue to expand recycle/reuse centers and keep organics and hazardous waste out of the landfill. Moku Loa Group is implementing zero waste at events with compost bins for food waste and plates and implements from Sustainable Products.

Honu`apo Coastal Community Park Resources Management Plan. The Group supported this plan which includes native plant and estuary restoration, a Wilderness camp that will accommodate Ala Kahakai trekkers, and a cultural center. We have also offered our volunteer \assistance in restoring habitat.

Kahauale`a Natural Area Reserve (NAR) Expansion - This proposal has succeeded and a new extension of 5,795 acres has been added to the Kahauale`a NAR in the Puna District of Hawai`i. This new NAR area is adjacent to the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park; NAR designation will facilitate management of the native ecosystems found in that region, and strengthen the protection of the areas already protected in the Kahauale`a NAR.

2% for Land Issue – The Save Our Lands Citizen’s Committee and consistently over one hundred people have testified before the Hawai’i County Council and the Charter Commission to keep the Land Fund at 2%. The Hawai`i County Council has suspended deposits to the Fund until July of 2011. We suspect they will not be resumed if the economy is still depressed.

A 2% Land Fund Charter amendment was proposed to the Charter Commission. Voters will see the ballot measure at not less than 1% (2 million) to be deposited to the land fund IF this measure is passed by voters in November. We intend to propose a 2% Land Fund Charter amendment to the County Council in the near future. If passed by the County Council, this would mean that there would also be a 2% Land Fund amendment ($4 million per year).

Remember, in 2006 63% of us voted to save Hawai`I County’s treasured places. Voters would get to choose between a 1% or 2% Land Fund. We need your help again! NOW is the time to make your wishes known before the County Council and at the polls in November. Want more information? Call Debbie Hecht (989_3222, or email (hecht.deb@gmail.com).

Moku Loa Group has opposed:


O`oma reclassification from State Conservation to urban rezoning. The Group opposed this reclassification of coastal lands just south of Ke`ahole Airport for a 1200-unit residential and 300-unit commercial space. This land has important natural and cultural resources with open space and view planes worthy of protection. We are losing thousands of acres of important conservation land to development. Other issues involved are viability of development adjacent to the airport and its noise, preserving water quality, lack of provisions for an overwhelmed infrastructure, negative impacts on long-time residents.

Construction of a Connections Charter School over the Kaumana Caves. This proposal included buildings and septic systems directly over the underlying historic cave system, habitat of unique cave species and high preference by educators and visitors for its accessibility. MLG comments on the draft EIS led the school to relocate their buildings to preserve the cave.

by Cory Harden

An Oregon real estate company that has filed for the protection of bankruptcy court owns 5,00 acres of land above Hilo containing some koa. Most of the land is zoned conservation, so it is unlikely they would get through all the legal requirements to cut koa. But 300-odd acres are zoned agriculture; and there it would be easier to cut. They may do logging and build a mill. They sound environmentally friendly, but Sierra Club is setting up a meeting with them to discuss sustainable approaches.

Posted March 1, 2010

by Deborah Ward

The Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group recently recognized eight outstanding students for research on Hawai`i’s environment at the Hawai`i District Science and Engineering Fair held Saturday, February 13, 2010 in Hilo.
In the Senior Research Division, Malio Kodis, of Waiakea High, received the Mae Mull Award for research projects entitled “Diversity of Foliar Fungal Endophytes in Wild and Cultivated Metrosideros Polymorpha.”  In the Junior Research Division, Jake Ebesugawa, of Waiakea Intermediate, was recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to the outstanding junior research project relating to the environment of Hawai`i.  His project was entitled “How Fast Is Coral Dissolving?”  In the Senior Research in Physical Science Division, Megan Kurohara and Hannah Rojeski, of Hilo High, received the Don Worsencroft Award for the project “Photosynthetic Algae.” 

Dr. Worsencroft was a professor of physical science at Hawai`i Community College.  In the Junior Display Division, Nathan Tripp, Korey Palmerton, Juslynne Fernandez, of Pahoa Intermediate, were recognized with the Ruth Lani Stemmerman Award for their display entitled “White Monarch Butterfly.”  Dr. Stemmerman was a plant ecologist at Hawai`i Community College who specialized in Hawaiian botany.  Moku Loa Group also presented an additional award for Earth Science and Environmental Science relating to Hawai`i in honor of Bill Mull, who photographed the Happy Face Spiders and many other Hawaiian invertebrates.  The recipient was Cody Hamane, of Hilo Intermediate, for a project entitled “Native versus Invasive: Survival of the Fittest.”  The students each received certificates and checks for $25.00-$50.00.  Through these awards, the Sierra Club members hope to honor scientists active in protecting our native ecosystems, and to encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics related to the Hawaiian environment.
Mahalo to this year’s MLG judges, including Chris Kobb, Phil Barnes, Deborah Ward, Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers and Al Beeman.  Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its memorial fund to support the Science Fair and other educational programs for students.  Tax deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to: Sierra Club, Moku Loa Group, PO Box 1137, Hilo HI 96721.  For more information contact Deborah Ward (966-7361).

by Nelson Ho
Sierra Club has long been a voice against the land mismanagement that is turning the summit of Mauna Kea into a private industrial preserve.  Now Sierra Club’s ability to defend the threatened Hawai`i environment is imperiled due to DLNR and UH tactics.
Mauna Kea still lacks environmental and cultural protections since the University promised to take care of those things in the 1983-85 Master Plan.
For the past two years the University has put forth their versions of a Comprehensive Management Plan for Mauna Kea called for in the DLNR regulations.  The DLNR, strapped for resources and with strong political pressure from the University and Governor, has caved in and is rubber stamping this document.
It has been left to the environmental and cultural practitioner communities to speak up for the lawful process and the ability of the public to intervene in a meaningful way in these agency actions.
The danger to Mauna Kea has mounted as the latest tactic by the State has unfolded.  Take away the public’s and Sierra Club’s voice and ability to participate in those important agency actions.  Take away the right to have contested case hearings on important DLNR land decisions.  Sierra Club is looking for funds to challenge this in court.  Please assist.
For further information contact Nelson Ho (nho.hoku@gmail.com) or Deborah Ward (dward@hawaii.edu), Co-Chairs of the Mauna Kea Issues Committee for the Hawai`i Chapter.

by Cory Harden
Petitioners challenging an Army application for a license to possess depleted uranium (DU) are awaiting a decision from the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on standing and contention admissibility.  The petitioners are Jim Albertini (Mlu Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action), Cory Harden (a Moku Loa Group Executive Committee member, but acting as an individual), and Isaac Harp (all from Hawai`i Island), and Luwella Leonardi of O`ahu.  The petitioners questioned the Army’s assessment of hazards from DU spotting rounds found in Hawai`i. 
The Army denied having DU in Hawai`i until 2006 when citizen groups announced they had obtained Army e-mails reporting the 2005 discovery of DU spotting rounds at Schofield Barracks on the island of O`ahu.  The spotting rounds were part of a classified Davy Crockett weapon system used in the 1960s.  The Army acknowledged the find, and later found more spotting rounds at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Hawai`i.  The rounds were also distributed to twelve other states and three foreign countries in the 1960s.  The Army says worldwide it had about 75,000 rounds, each about eight inches long and containing about six and a half ounces of DU alloy.
Albertini, Harden and Harp said Army searches, reports and air monitoring plans for DU at Pohakuloa Training Area are inadequate, so airborne DU from live-fire and dummy bombs impacting undiscovered spotting rounds may go undetected.  They noted that the same concerns were expressed by several professionals: Dr. Mike Reimer, a geologist and Dr. Marshall Blann, a consultant to Los Alamos National Laboratory (both from Kona), and Dr. Lorrin Pang from Maui, a former Army doctor who is a consultant to the World Health Organization.
Albertini and Harden called for a search of classified and unclassified records by all military forces in Hawai`i for other forgotten radioactive hazards.  Albertini called for independent testing and for investigation of reports that animals from the PTA area have tumors.  He said the Army has ignored Hawai`i County Council resolutions concerning DU.  Albertini and Harp called for a halt to live-fire and other activities that might disperse dust at PTA, and questioned whether the Army has disclosed the full extent of its DU use in Hawai`i. Harp expressed concern about high rates of cancer and of a rare neurological disease on Hawai`i Island.  Leonardi said the Army dug up and trucked out DU-contaminated soil at Schofield, but the Army said the soil was uncontaminated.
We commend the NRC for setting up a video conference hearing in January and easing petition requirements, since we couldn’t afford a lawyer,” said Harden.  “The hearing spotlighted the flawed Army response to DU,” she said.

by  Cory Harden
Please call for scoping hearings–none are planned—for the proposed Army Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) that may come to Kawaihae.
Please also raise concerns abut vessel strikes, fuel spills and live-fire harming marine animals; invasive species being spread; security zones affecting commerce, fishing and recreation; ports not being specified; and cumulative impacts of numerous military projects in Hawai`i.
FROM THE HAWAI`I ENVIRONMENTAL NOTICE: 1) “The JHSV is a high-speed, shallow-draft vessel…[it can carry] a 31-member crew and...up to 350 additional soldiers.  The vessel can reach speeds of 35-45 knots and has an equipment carrying capacity of approximately 700 short tons.”  2) “The JHSV will require fueling-at-sea training; aviation training (helicopter); live-fire training; and   high-speed, open-water-craft training.”  3) “The JHSV includes a weapons mount for crew-served weapons, a flight deck for helicopter operations, and an off-load ramp that allows vehicles to drive off the ship quickly.”  4) “Not all of the proposed ports will receive JHSVs; and other viable locations raised during public scoping may be considered as stationing sites.”
Call your Congress people toll free at 1-877-762-8762:  Senators Akaka and Inouye; Representatives Abercrombie and Hirono.
Contact the Army at: Public Affairs Office, U.S. Army Environmental Command
                                                Attention: IMAE-PA
                                                5179 Hoadley Rd.
                                                Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010-5401
                                                Phone: (410) 436-2556      Fax: (410) 436-1693
                                                e-mail: APGR-USAECNEPA@ conus.army.mil

Posted December 1, 2009

by Debbie Hecht
The Hawai’i County Charter Commission voted 6 to 2 on November 6 the REDUCE the 2% Land Fund to the “Not less than Half% Land Fund.” This means the land fund would get approximately $1.00 per year with full matching funds, so the County would have $2 million per year to acquire your favorite beach access, AG lands, watersheds, cultural places, etc.  Voters approved this in 2006 for 2%. Why is the Charter Commission changing it now?  This amendment was proposed to get the 2% for the land fund out of the yearly budget wrangling.
            You will hear that the other counties have ½% or 1%. That’s because most of the other islands are almost fully developed AND they have a larger tax base to draw from, meaning they have 1% of a much larger amount of property taxes.  The charter amendment was submitted at 2% to LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE (once again)!


  1. TALK to the COMMISSIONERS IF YOU KNOW THEM: Edmund Haitsuka and COMMISSION MEMBERS David Fuertes, Daphne Honma, Casey Jarman, Guy Kaulukukui, Jamae Kawauchi, Joseph Kealoha, Alapaki Nahale, Susie Osborne, Todd Shumway and Scott Unger.
  2. If you want to e-mail the Commissioners, please submit to Karen Eoff, Commission Secretary, at <KEOFF@co.hawaii.hi.us>
  3. Attend the next meeting: There are two more readings of this bill.  The next MEETING OF THE CHARTER COMMISSION IS DECEMBER 18TH AT 1:30 IN HILO AT THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS AT 25 AUPUNI ST.

            I couldn’t speak during the proceedings until after the vote to reduce the amount was taken.  From questions asked, it was clear that the Commissioners didn’ t understand, so it needs to be restated to the Commissioners.  They seemed to think that
*  the Charter would be used in conjunction with the existing ordinance, although when the bill was submitted it clearly stated in the note preceding the legislation on Communication 45 that it would replace the existing ordinance.  GO TO: and click on Comm. 45.  Or e-mail me for the text.
*  the County uses this money to get matching funds (usually dollar for dollar) from other government agencies.  And that private landowners acquire different monies because they already own the land, which are considered their “matching funds.”
* this money is only for property acquisition.  If the money were used for maintenance, there would be nothing left for purchasing land.
* the 2% Land Fund represents the gathering of almost 9,000 signatures to get the matter on the ballot and that then 63% of voters voted for the measure.   We submitted this Charter amendment to  LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE ONCE AGAIN if they want to set aside 2% of our taxes to acquire land; this is just little more than 1% of the entire budget of the County!

Please call with questions.  Debbie Hecht, Coordinator, Save Our Lands Citizens Committee (989-3222).

Advocates for protecting Summit appeal State decision to deny hearing on the UH version of land use plan
by Nelson Ho

            Sierra Club, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and concerned citizens filed suit in the Third Circuit Court recently to uphold their right to challenge the adequacy of the State’s management on the summit of Mauna Kea.  The Hawai`i Board of Land and Natural Resources improperly denied the request for a contested case hearing made by the Sierra Club, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Clarence Kukauakahi Ching, claiming they do not have standing to critique the adequacy of a newly approved management plan.
            “The Board’s decision undermines the basic right everyone in Hawai`i has to stand up for their environment, their culture and their religion,” said Kealoha Pisciotta, President of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou.  “Despite extensive evidence on the record of our cultural, spiritual, environmental and recreational connections to Mauna Kea, the Board is now claiming we suddenly have no right to ensure it is protected from bulldozers.”
            The Board claimed in its decision that only those with private property interests in the summit can challenge the Board’s decision, even though Mauna Kea is public land held in trust by the State on behalf of Hawai`i’s residents.  The first hearing on this matter is scheduled to occur on December 9, 2009, 9:00 am, at the Hilo Third Circuit courtroom of Judge Glenn Hara.
            “Mauna Kea belongs to the people,” said Ali`i Ai Moku Paul Neves, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.  “Hawai`i law has long recognized the unique interest of Native Hawaiians and the public in protecting our natural and cultural resources.  The Board cannot approve any management plan without hearing all of the facts first; and that means holding this contested case hearing.”
            “Citizen participation in agency decisions is an essential part of our democratic tradition, said Robert Harris, Director of the Sierra Club’s Hawai`i Chapter.  “The concept of meaningful public participation ensures decision-makers will have adequate information and minimizes the possibility of public corruption and backroom dealing.”
            “The University and the Land Board are pushing this new plan because they want to guarantee building a massive Thirty Meter Telescope Facility on this sacred site,” said Clarence Kukauakahi Ching, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner and retired attorney.  “But they can’t do anything until they first deal with the adverse impacts of all the telescopes they have built on our summit over the last thirty years.  These telescopes have leveled cinder cones, dumped human waste and toxic chemicals over our aquifer, and impaired cultural practices on the summit.  The courts agree, it is time for this to stop.”

Posted September 1, 2009

by Cory Harden

We urge residents to attend upcoming Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meetings on radioactive depleted uranium (DU) at Pohakuloa and call for:

  • Cease fire – Stop live fire and dummy bombing until the NRC license process is complete.
  • Fund independent testing – Have air monitoring run by non-government groups, but funded by the Federal Government, as at Rocky Flats.
  • Survey all Pohakuloa – Only suspected DU ranges were closely surveyed.
  • Hunt for forgotten hazards – Search open and classified records for other forgotten hazards left by all      branches of the military, U.S. and foreign, throughout Hawai`i.

Meeting Times:  Wednesday, August 26, 6:00-8:30 pm.; King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel,  75-5660 Palani Road, Kailua-Kona. Thursday, August 27, 6:00-8:30 pm.; Hilo High School, 556 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo

by Cory Harden

Nine out of every ten pounds of harvested fish from the fish farm planned off North Kohala will be shipped out of Hawai`i.  Two pounds of feed will be shipped in for each pound of fish produced.  Twenty-plus jobs, 1,200,000 pounds of fish a year, and returns for investors are what Hawai`i will gain.  What will we risk?

Twelve cages, each 30 yards across, will float untethered 1300 feet deep, dependent on new propulsion technology to hold them against currents, storms & tsunamis.  No bond will be posted in case of disaster.

Disease from farm fish, caged off from culling by predators, may cause epidemics in wild fish.  Drugs and antibiotics may not help, since residues may linger in the fish, and spread into the ocean from fish droppings.  Vaccines take years to develop.

Public ocean waters (250 acres) will be used for private profit.  More are coming – Hawai`i is the only state that allows ocean leasing.  Two existing fish farms plan expansion.  Three more may start up.

“[T]here are still unresolved issues regarding the level of environmental and project disclosure and analysis regarding the engineering design of the proposed engine, fish feed components, lack of benthic studies in the project area, and the lack of shark, marine mammal and endangered species plans,” says the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.1

We urge that upcoming hearings for a Conservation District Use Permit be held in West Hawai`i and be well-publicized.  We urge that the State address all risks and “incorporate ecological perspectives,” like the Hawaiian fish pond, to “integrate fishing, aquaculture and conservation.”2

1 State Environmental Notice, 7-23-09.
2 Goldburg and Naylor, “Future Seascapes, Fishing and Fish Farming,” Ecol Environ 2005, 3 (1):21-28.

by Diane Ware

Moku Loa Group has recently asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to keep the `io on the Endangered Species List (ESL) and to change their focus from ‘individual species’ to ‘protecting shared habitats.’  This approach will not only bring greater protection to all endangered and threatened species, but will also protect Hawaiian forest ecosystems.  The Hawai`i Island County Council is close to approving a resolution to also ask USFWS to keep the `io on the ESL due to its cultural significance and development pressures to remove forest ecosystems for agriculture and residential use. 

“A federal report released March 19, 2009 highlighted the perilous state of Hawai`i’s avian population, noting nearly all native bird species are in danger of becoming extinct.” (Associated Press)    “More bird species are vulnerable to extinction in Hawai`i than anywhere else in the country, yet in most cases critical habitat has not been identified due in part to Hawai`i’s small share of federal funds for Endangered Species  ,,, only 4% of the Bush administration’s spending on Endangered Species recovery went to Hawai`i birds.”  (Daren Schroeder, Director, American Bird Conservancy)

Rather than de-list the `io at this time, the Sierra Club Moku Loa Group urges USFWS to adopt the new “holistic” approach proposed by former Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, at an island health conference in Honolulu in October 2008.  This “ecosystem” based approach addresses the common threats that occur across these ecosystems so we can more effectively focus our conservation efforts on restoring the functions of shared habitats.  This approach will be particularly valuable if it is found that the native bee population, which pollinates native plants is endangered; as petitioned recently by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Furthermore, the MLG supports Earth Justice’s recent suits filed to secure protection of more than two hundred Hawai`i species and “…look beyond the individual animals and plants and protect the places where these species live.”

Natural and man-made threats may not be significant singly; but if several occur concurrently along with continuing degradation/loss of habitat, the impact could be devastating due to the fact that the `io’s current range is still one island.  Another important factor is the `io’s relatively low reproductive potential.  The birds are monogamous, produce only one egg per nest; and according to Stone and Pratt (Hawai`i’s Plants and Animals) “Not all individuals nest every year … young birds remain in the nest for two months … adults feed the young five to eight months.  A species that has such a low reproductive potential and comparatively low total number (2,500) can quickly decline.”  Although data now indicate there are 3,000 ‘io, the recent example of the palila demise makes it clear that populations can change quickly.

Posted June 1, 2009

By Cory Harden

            As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) plans meetings in Hawai`i on a depleted uranium (DU) license for the Army, DU studies at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) are being questioned, and the NARC and another agency involved in studies have come under fire. 
            “…What is proposed by the U.S. Army for future studies at PTA will fall far short of providing the best information possible at this time,” said Dr. Mike Reimer, PhD., a Kona geologist, in a March letter to Army Colonel Howard Killian.  “…The study design … may present itself as a feel-good approach, but it is unfortunately misleading…” he adds.  Reimer’s background includes chairing the environmental radioactivity section for special meetings within the American Nuclear Society; doing radiation-site contamination evaluations in Eastern Europe; and serving as guest editor for the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry.
            In a March e-mail, Dr. Lorrin Pang, a WHO consultant, said “Those in charge of the [DU] assessment … do not adequately address the … form of the material, the routes of exposure, distribution in the body of non-soluble vs. soluble compounds, target organs, nor the variations in half-life and clearance from the body …”  He added, “… their own referral agencies and advisors on the topic were those whose science was so flawed that they missed diagnosing the existence of Gulf War syndrome … the survey testing … will miss all large remnants of Spotter rounds … The survey lacks controls … to evaluate the specificity and sensitivity of the tests as well as control sites to compare to background radiation levels … The sampling scheme … is very subjective and hard to interpret …”  Dr. Pang is a former Army doctor and has been listed in America’s Best Doctors.  He is also Director of Maui Department of Health, but speaks on DU as a private citizen.
            But an Army handout says, “DU present on Hawai`i’s ranges does not pose an imminent or immediate threat to human health.”
            “To evaluate conflicting views, we invited the Army to participate in a forum with Dr. Reimer and Dr. Pang,” said Cory Harden of Sierra Club, Moku Loa Group, “but it appears it will be several months before the Army is prepared to back up its conclusions in a forum.”
            Elsewhere, actions of both NRC and another agency involved with the PTA studies – Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSCR) – have been criticized.
            The NRC’s recent decisions to classify DU as Class A waste was called an “arbitrary and capricious mischaracterization” by the chair and a member of a Congressional Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, who added that “requirements for safe and secure disposal of depleted uranium are much greater than what is required for Class A waste.”
            The ATSCR was criticized for using “flawed methods to investigate depleted uranium exposures” in New York State and refusing “to acknowledge a link between a cancer cluster in Pennsylvania and environmental contamination despite persuasive evidence.”  The criticism came from witnesses testifying recently to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight.
            Earlier, the Subcommittee said ATSR’s “scientifically-flawed” report and “botched response resulted in tens of thousands of survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita remaining in travel trailers laden with high levels of formaldehyde,” and there was “a concerted and continuing effort by the agency’s leadership to both mask their own involvement … and to push the blame … down the line.”
            “We urge the public to watch for the MRC meeting dates,” said Harden, “then show up and insist that recommendations from Dr. Reimer and Dr. Pang be written into the Army DU license.”

Posted March 1, 2009

by Debbie Hecht

The Hawai`i County Council may raid the 2% for the Land Fund to meet budget shortfalls. In 2006, 57% of voters voted to set aside 2% of our property taxes to purchase Open Space. Using 2% money to meet budget shortfalls is a betrayal of voters trust! E-mail the Council and Mayor; ask them to leave the 2% fund alone:
"Billy Kenoi" - cohmayor@co.hawaii.hi.us
"Council testimony" - counciltestimony@co.hawaii.hi.us

The 2% for the Land Fund campaign was a victory for preserving Hawai`i County's treasured places. In 2006 the Save our Lands Citizens' Committee ran an initiative drive to set aside 2% of Hawai`i County property taxes for Open Space. In four months, two hundred volunteers collected almost ten thousand signatures. Fifty-seven percent of voters voted YES! A clear mandate that Hawai`i County voters want their treasured lands preserved.

This economic downturn is the time to leverage the $3.5 - $4 million in the fund as the yearly payment on approximately $45 million in Open Space Bond money. Land values have fallen up to 44.45% (WHT - MLS). Now is the time to buy! More information:

Since December 2006, how much has been deposited? When? How much interest has been earned? How much has been spent? On what properties? Can this information be published twice per year?

There are two properties for sale: Kiholena (Kohala) and Puapua`a (Kona). Are these properties being pursued for acquisition? What will happen to negotiations on Kawa Bay? Matching funds are committed from the State Legacy Lands Fund and Federal Fish and Wildlife Fund. The time is now! We need to save Hawai`i's treasured lands for our keiki and grandchildren before they are lost forever.

by Debbie Hecht
Please e-mail your state legislators and tell them to vote "NO" on HB 1741. We need this money as matching funds to acquire open space and park properties. These lands can be used as the foundation for an eco-tourism industry in our state and provide jobs. Yes, we are having an economic downturn, BUT we need to acquire land NOW when land is more affordable before it is lost to development forever!

A SHORT SUMMARY: House Bill 1741 will cut the Legacy Land Fund, the Rental-Housing Trust Fund and the Natural Area Reserve Fund. On the Big Island, these funds have been used to match County funds to purchase Honu`apo (Whittington Beach), Kawa Bay and are currently committed for land in North Kohala.

These funds come from the land conveyance tax money (when real estate is sold). Here is what is proposed, from the actual legislation:

1. No monies for the Legacy Land Conservation Fund for Open Space shall be paid into the fund from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2015; and then 10% each fiscal year to be paid into the Land Conservation Fund thereafter (currently 10% of the money from the conveyance tax is used for the Land Fund).
2. Fifteen percent (currently 30% of money from the conveyance tax) shall be paid from July 1,2009 to June 30, 2015; and 30% each fiscal year thereafter to be paid into the Rental Housing Trust Fund.
3. Ten percent (currently 25%) from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2015 and 25% thereafter shall be paid into the Natural Area Reserve Fund.

Use these e-mail contacts for the Finance Committee:

Subject Line: HB1741 - Finance Committee -- VOTE "NO!"

Aloha State Representatives:
Please vote "NO" on HB 1741 - Relating to the Conveyance Tax. We need the Legacy Lands and the Natural Area Reserve Funds as matching funds to save Hawai`i's great places before they are lost to development forever. We may NEVER see property prices this low; NOW is the time to buy land. These lands can be the foundation for an eco-tourism industry in our State. PLEASE find funds to cut elsewhere. (Remember to include your name, address, phone and e-mail.)

from Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers

The Moku Loa Group Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club presented the following awards at the Imiloa Astronomy Cener on February 14, 2009.

The Mae Mull Award for Outstanding Senior Research Project relating to the Environment in Hawai`i was presented to Mark T. Seu from Waiakea High School. His project Title: Herbicide Residues in Water -- Breast Cancer?

The Wayne Gagne Award for Outstanding Junior Display Project relating to the Environment in Hawai`i was presented to Gina McGuire from Kamehameha Schools - Hawai`i. Her Project Title: Waiawi: Strawberry Guava Ethanol.

The Ruth Lani Stemmerman Award for Outstanding Junor Display Project relating to the
Environment in Hawai`i was presented to Fiona Follet from St. Joseph Junior and Senior High School. . Her Project Title: Endangered Sea Turtles.

The Dr. Don Worsencroft Award for Outstanding Senior Research in Physical Science was presented to Megan M. Kurohara from Hilo High School and Kelson A. Lau from Waiakea High School. Their joint Project Title: Wireless Power Transfer: A New Approach toward Renewable Energy for the Future.

The Moku Loa Group Award for Earth Sciences was presented to Chloe C. Frizelle from Kea`au High School. Her Project Title: The Ocean's Role in Global Warming.

The Moku Loa Group judges were Phil Barnes, Al Beeman and Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers. Mahalo to the Hawai`i Community College/UH Hilo students Davida Caves, Chris Kopp and Natalie Ilaban Kalahiki for also judging.

The Moku Loa Group congratulates these fine young scientists.

by Diane Ware

The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to de-list the `io from the endangered species list. They held informational meetings in Hilo and Kona. A number of attendees questioned their justifications for de-listing, such as secure habitat, stable number ofindividuals (The number they presented did not show a decline of several hundred birds in ten years.), and no major human or natural hazards found. Attendees pointed out that thousands of acres of forest are at risk of loss due to ag conversion, clearing for development and subdivision. Also discussed was the fact that the hawk is on only one island and natural hazards such as VOG, fire or hurricanes could jeopardize the population. There were also cultural concerns presented. The details of the plan can be found at www.fws.gov/pacific islands. Comments will be taken until April 13, 2009 at www.regulations.gov. Any questions, contact me -- Diane Ware (967-8642).

 Posted December 1, 2008

By Phil Barnes

After ten years as the Executive Director, Jeff Mikulina has taken a new position. We are all happy that he will still be fighting to protect Hawai`i's environment, but in a new capacity. Our new Executive Director is Robert Harris. Robert is an active member of the Oahu group and has been practising law in Hawai`i for the past five years. He is a former clerk of the State Supreme Court and has also worked for Earth Justice. He will give you more of his bio in person. He will be meeting with members at the Kea`au Community Center Monday, January 5, at 7:00 pm. He very much wants YOU, the members, to help chart the future direction of the Club. He is particularly interested in establishing a new active relationship with the outer islands. Youth outreach and statewide activities are just two areas that he would like to pursue. Please come and share your mana`o and help to move the club forward in this post-Bush era. For further details call Phil Barnes (965-9695).

THIRTY METER TELESCOPE (TMT) SHOULD BE BUILT -- ON ANOTHER MOUNTAIN! By Nelson Ho and Deborah Ward, CoChairs, Mauna Kea Issues Committee, Hawai`i Chapter, Sierra Club

This is not a matter of being for or against Astronomy and Science. It is a matter of adhering to the law, proper land management and correcting forty years of mistakes. Issues raised by Sierra Club, Hawaiians and residents since the 60s are still festering. The State Legislative Auditor found the cultural and natural resources of Mauna Kea have suffered at the expense of unregulated astronomy development.

The University of California and the California Institute of Technology (UC-CalTech) are institutions with a sullied past. They lost legal battles arising from the proposal to build six (6) Keck Outrigger Telescopes, beginning in 1995. The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory has an unlined cesspool on the summit, despite repeated kupunas' requests that it be converted to a septic tank for cultural sensitivity. It was built with no federal EIS. UC-Caltech attempted to count the two Kecks, largest in the world when built, as one by connecting them with a building.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources has a non-transferable fiduciary duty to protect Native Hawaiian rights and resources. DLNR has no money to conduct the court-ordered comprehensive management plan (CMP). They must fix this funding problem first. One way would be to end the $1.00 per year lease for Great Britain, Japan, Canada, France, NASA, Smithsonian Institution and UC-Caltech. The Supreme Court of Hawai`i has instructed all state agencies to fulfill their duty, prohibiting delegation of their duties to a sub-entity like the University of Hawai`i or a third party like Ku`iwalu, which is now attempting to write the UH version of the CMP.

Providing scholarships will not offset the actual adverse impacts on the natural and cultural resources the TMT would create. Off-site mitigation, such as scholarships, will not suffice. Besides, they have been offered before and not delivered.

In 2003, a federal lawsuit involving UC-Caltech and NASA compelled NASA to complete the first EIS ever conducted on Mauna Kea since 1968. They found that "the cumulative impact of 30 years of astronomy development has resulted in significant, adverse and substantial impact to the cultural and natural resources of Mauna Kea." Correct the problems. Do not build the TMT on them.

By Debbie Hecht

Open Lands and Public Access Alliance (OLAPA) is forming; you can attend these meetings. This organization brings together all of the conservation organizations on Hawai`i Island to cooperate on projects and propose legislation. We have several committees: the Watchdog Committee, keeping members informed on land use issues; the Comprehensive Inventory Committee, to establish an inventory of trails, maps and open space; and the Education/Legislative Committee, who are looking at State and County laws that need to be amended for trails and open space. Want more informaton? Call Debbie Hecht (989-3222) or e-mail her at hecht.deb@gmail.com.   

By Phil Barnes

We will again be holding our annual membership meeting in Pavilion #1 in Wailoa River State Park. Just look for our Sierra Club banner. Our meeting will be held Monday, December 8 at 6:00 pm. As usual, this will be a potluck dinner, so bring your favorite dish or pupu. We are encouraging everyone to bring their own dining utensils to cut down waste. We will be selling Sierra Club merchandise, including calendars, to help you with your holiday shopping. We have invited all the newly elected office holders to attend, so you will have an opportunity to talk story with them.  There will also be an opportunity for everyone to give us an update on any ongoing environmental concerns that you are working on. If you would like to help in any way with the event, call Phil Barnes (965-9695).

Posted September 1, 2008

Copy of Sierra Club Press Release
by Cory Harden

Up to 2000 depleted uranium (DU) spotting rounds may be present at Pohakuloa Training Area – though the Army reports only 714 spotting rounds statewide – and there may be no cleanup, reports an environmental consultant.  The environmental consultant, Peter Strauss of San Francisco, reviewed Army studies of DU at Pohakuloa for Sierra Club’s Hawai`i Island Group.  Strauss’ resume states that he has done Technical Assistance Grants for the Enviromental Protection Agency, technical review for the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, and environmental assessment of military bases.

The spotting rounds are part of the Davy Crockett weapons system used in Hawai`i in the 1960s.  Each spotting round contained about seven ounces of DU alloy.  The DU was first discovered at Schofield Barracks on O`ahu in 2005, after years of Army denials of DU use in Hawai`i.  Hawai`i County Council recently passed a resolution calling for a halt to practice bombing, live-fire, and other actions that generate dust at Pohakuloa until the DU is cleaned up.

Strauss estimated the number 2000 based on two Army estimates: up to 400 pistons at Pohakuloa from the Davy Crockett, and up to 5 spotting rounds per piston.
The Army estimated the number 714 based on fifty-year-old shipping documents, says Strauss.  The documents were found by an archive search which Strauss says “may have been more difficult than anticipated,” because the Davy Crockett was classified.  Strauss quotes an Interstate Technology Regulatory Council statement that “many initial historical reviews . . . may not have identified all potential munitions sites or hazards.”
The Army is not likely to “remediate” Pohakuloa “unless there were a hazard,” Strauss reports from a conversation with Greg Komb, Army Radiation Health and Safety Specialist.  Strauss says he asked if 2000 spotting rounds would be considered a hazard, but Komb did not respond.

Strauss says, “There is little reliable information about the location of DU” in suspected spotting round areas at Pohakuloa. Army studies of the Pohakuloa DU are still underway, but Strauss cautions that “detection [of DU] is very difficult” and “hazard assessment . . . does not have strong regulatory guidance.”

The health effects of DU, and the risks posed by DU at Pohakuloa, are both controversial.  DU is radioactive and is also a toxic heavy metal, and can impact health if inhaled or ingested.  Strauss says it’s “unlikely small particles of DU would be inhaled unless the person was in the immediate vicinity,” but adds this could change if the land goes out of military use.  Strauss says it is unlikely DU is entering groundwater, but recommends clearing as much DU as “can easily and safely be retrieved” and conducting long-term monitoring of air, soil and groundwater.

“The Army continues actions that could disperse DU at Pohakuloa, though they aren’t sure exactly how much DU is up there, or exactly where it is,” said Cory Harden of Sierra Club.  She added, “More Army DU studies for Pohakuloa will be released in the near future – the public should scrutinize them closely and insist on long-term monitoring of air, soil and groundwater.”

Posted June 1, 2008


Excerpts from Sierra Club testimony in support of Hawai`i County Council Resolution 639-08, urging the United States military to address the hazards of Depleted Uranium (DU) at Pohakuloa, May 7, 2008:

Pohakuloa is “one of the most important places in Hawaiian tradition and history.”  {Stryker EIS}  Pohakuloa is also home to threatened and endangered species, some found only in Hawai`i. 

Pohakuloa is not a disposal facility for radioactive and chemical waste.
The DU should be removed and taken to such a facility.  I don’t know of any organization, other than the military, that is allowed to leave explosive, toxic and radioactive materials lying out in the open for decades.  It took only forty years to forget the DU. If it’s not removed, it will be forgotten again sometime in the next four-and-a-half billion years – the half-life of DU.

And this should be a wake-up call that Pohakuloa may be contaminated with other forgotten dangers.  The Army should do a thorough assessment, including a search of classified records, for other sources of dangerous DU and radioactivity.

It appears the Army doesn’t know what’s on their ranges.  They didn’t know about the Davy Crockett weapons system.  They don’t know for sure where all the spotting rounds are.  Incomplete records point only to “likely” areas.

The Army didn’t seem to know there was old ordnance at Schofield that “should be destroyed.”  It was found during the search for DU.

The Army didn’t seem to know the DU was “fine particulate matter.”  As you know, chunks of DU are not dangerous, but minute, inhalable particles are very dangerous.  At first the Army said the DU was in the form of “large metal fragments . . . flecks and grains” and “large particle” sizes.  They said the large size prevented “migration, including by air.”  But later they said the DU was “fine particulate.”

This dangerous, airborne DU may go undetected because the Army may be doing the wrong kind of air testing.  But I can’t tell, because in six months of repeated requests from Sierra Club, they have not sent details about their air testing methods.
Please strengthen and pass this resolution.  Mahalo.


Hawai`i Island’s treasured lands need to be saved now!  The $4 million generated from 2% of Hawai`i County property taxes could be used as the principal and interest payment on $50 million of bonds.  This is not a new idea!  Over 200 communities across the United States have passed Open Space Bonds from 2004 to mid-2007.

Bonds are like your home mortgage.  The County borrows money and then pays it back at approximately 5% over 20 years.  The $4 million generated from the 2% money could be used as payment of principal and interest on $50 million in bonds.  Right now interest rates are low; the real estate market has fallen 20%, and is still falling.  Some landowners with properties slated for development are eager to sell.  This economic downturn is a golden opportunity for the County!  If we had this Bond money we could buy open space and parkland properties now!

The Hawai`i County Council has approved ten resolutions which instruct the Director of Finance to begin negotiations to acquire: Puapua`a Historic Site (12+ acres north of Casa de Emdeko-Ali`i Drive, Kona), Waipio Lookout (acquired), Honoli`i, Cape Kumukahi, Ocean Park, Honolulu Landing, Wai`ele, Kawa`a Bay (partially acquired), Punalu`u Beach Park.  Council Chair Pete Hoffmann has proposed Pa`o`o (on the Kohala Coast) for acquisition, which was unanimously approved by the Council on May 7, 2007.

People say, “We can’t take care of what we have, so why should we buy more?”  The Parks and Recreation Department is unable to effectively care for our parks.  A private Parklands Foundation could be set up to manage these properties, working with a community-based ohana responsible for each property.  The community, the County and the Foundation could work together to manage and maintain these properties with annuity funds set up at the time of acquisition, or the establishment of Community Stewardship organizations.

The Parklands Foundation could:
*    Develop and manage the lands that were acquired via this Bond.
*    Provide continuity not affected by administration changes in the County government.
*  Be a liaison between citizens and the County to provide long-term vision for development and management.
*    Provide an ‘umbrella’ 501c3 corporation for citizen’s groups who wish to become “Friends of the Park,” so donations can be tax deductible, and so that each group need not form a private 501c3 organization.
*    Help citizen’s groups manage their funding.
*   Coordinate with citizens and the County to provide day-to-day management, such as trash collection, hiring of personnel, landscape maintenance, etc.
*  Manage an annuity, which should be established to provide yearly maintenance for each of the   properties, or help with the establishment of Community Stewardship organizations.

Posted March 1, 2008

by Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers
As I am the delegate to the National Council of Club Leaders, please feel free to ask me any specific questions about National issues; or you may use the links to National websites, Board of Directors websites, and other pertinent sites at www.sierraclub.org.
National Board of Directors elections ballots are coming in the mail, so cast your ballots by the April 2008 deadline. Please vote in the National election this year.

by Cory Harden
Watch for meetings on the Environmental Impact Statement for the six-year, $824-million State Harbor Modernization Plan. Questions to raise:
1. Doesn’t the Hawai`i 2050 Sustainability Plan call for cutting Hawai`i’s dependence on imports? With 80% of our consumer goods imported, cargo projected to double by 2020, and the cost of fuel skyrocketing, how about a plan for producing more food and goods locally?
2. What if we build it and they don’t come? Two cruise ships and maybe more are pulling out of Hawai`i. Superferry may go bankrupt. It’s in dry-dock for two weeks with rudder problems. It needs two trips a day to break even, but only one is scheduled. Bookings are only one-third of the number planned. Cancelled trips average one or more a week. And trips may stop completely with the Maui Tomorrow legal challenge.
3. To assess the true impact of the Plan, shouldn’t we—
Do one EIS for all harbors statewide, not separate EISs for each one?
Analyze the broad impacts of all actions enabled by harbor expansion (cruise ships, Superferry, military activities, cargo, recreation), not just the narrow impacts of harbor construction?
4. How much control does the public have over the Aloha Tower Development Corporation, a private-
public entity assisting with the Plan?

by Debbie Hecht
In 2006 57% of voters said “yes” to set aside 2% of our property taxes each year to acquire Open Space. There are now over $5 million in the fund, but the money for ’08 will pay for Kawa`a Bay. The 1.8 acres at Waipi`o Lookout was the first purchase using 2% money.

The Hawai`i County Council has approved nine resolutions, which instruct the Director of Finance to begin negotiations to acquire: Puapua`a Historic site (12+ acres north of Casa de Emdeko-Ali`I Drive, Kona), Waipi`o Lookout (acquired), Honoli`i, Cape Kumukahi, Ocean Park, Honolulu Landing, Wai`ele, Kawa`a Bay, Punalu`u Beach park.

Hawai`i Island’s treasured lands need to be saved now! These lands make Hawai`i Island unique and provide our quality of life. People say, “We need roads, schools and infrastructure.” Absolutely!! This is not a “one thing or the other” issue. Hawai`i County needs all of these things in equal measure. Our infrastructure is not keeping pace with development; our quality of life is suffering. Open Space does not require expensive government services to maintain.

The 2% funds will NOT save all our important lands before they fall to development. An Open Space and Parklands Bond can provide funding to acquire these lands through outright purchase or the purchase of development rights through conservation easements. This is not a new idea. From 2004 to early 2007, 200 communities nation-wide have authorized bonds to purchase open space and parklands. (Trust for Public Lands-Land Vote Database)

An Open Space and Parklands Bond would be levied against properties island-wide. How does this work? The County borrows money the same way you would borrow money for a mortgage to buy your home. The County could borrow $100 million to buy properties today and citizens countywide would pay back the loan. People with more expensive properties pay more. Look at the assessed value on your tax bill. If it states the assessed value is $100,000, you would pay $35.70/year or $2.98/month; someone with a property assessed at $500,000 would pay $178.50/year or $14.88/month; someone with a property assessed at $750,000 would pay $267.75/year or $22.31/month. If the Council passed this measure, you would not be assessed the total amount the next day; but the assessment would be added to your taxes gradually as properties were purchased and the money was spent.
Right now interest rates are low; the real estate market has fallen 20%, is still falling; developers’ cash flows are slowing and some landowners need to sell. This is a golden opportunity for the County!

Please ask your Council members to introduce resolutions to conserve our special lands, buffer reefs, preserve beach access and park properties -- especially lands which will soon fall to development, before they are lost forever. Ask your community development plan to include a recommendation for an Open Space and Parklands Bond. Make this a campaign issue – ask Council candidates, “What is your plan for preserving parks and open space?”
Next month – a plan for park management. Aloha, Debbie

by Deborah Ward
The Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group recently recognized eight outstanding students for research on Hawai`i’s environment at the Hawai`i District Science and Engineering Fair held Saturday, February 16, 2008 in Hilo.In the Junior Research Division, Kawaianiani Pluckett was recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to the outstanding junior research project relating to the environment of Hawai`i. This project was entitled, “O`opu: Population Study in Waipi`o Valley.”

For Senior Research in Environmental Science Division, Christopher Klusak received the Mae Mull Award for his project entitled “Nitrogen: the Key to Success of Invasive Flora.” In the Senior Research in Physical Science Division, Kelson Lau received the Don Worsencroft Award for the project “Novel Servo-Controlled Bipedal Micro-Robot.” Dr. Worsencroft was a Professor of Physical Science at Hawai`i Community College. In the Senior Research Division, Malio Kodis was recognized with the Ruth Lani Stemmerman Award for the project entitled, “An Analysis of the Procaryotic Community Associated with the Mucus of Montipora Patula.”

Lani Stemmermann was a plant ecologist who specialized in Hawaiian botany. Moku Loa Group also presented a team award in Senior Research to Stephanie Doan and Djon Marcos for their work on Evolutionary Relationships among Hawai`i’s Crustaceans. The students each received certificates and checks for $50.00. Through these awards, the Sierra Club members hope to honor scientists active in protecting our native habitats, and to encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics related to the Hawaiian environment.

Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its Memorial Fund to support the Science Fair and other educational programs for students. Tax deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to the Club c/o Moku Loa Group, PO Box 1137, Hilo, HI 96721. For more information, contact Deborah Ward (966-7361).

Posted December 1, 2007

by Phil Barnes
Our annual membership meeting will be held on Monday, December 17, 6:00 pm, at Pavilion 1, Wailoa River State Park. Just look for our Sierra Club Banner. As usual this will be a pot luck dinner, so bring your favorite dish or pupu. To reduce waste we’re encouraging folks to bring their own dinnerware. Recycling service will be available. We will be selling Sierra Club merchandise, including calendars, to help you with your last minute holiday shopping. Entertainment will be a presentation on global warming by Executive Director Jeff Mikulina. Jeff attended Al Gore’s forum in Tennessee and will give a modified version of “Inconvenient Truth” slide show, with emphasis on Hawai`i. If you would like to help in any way at this event, call Debbie Ward (966-7361).

by Cory Harden
Army briefings on depleted uranium (DU) findings at Pohakuloa are set for mid-November in West Hawai`i, and mid-December (dates to be announced) in East Hawai`i. Questions we hope they will answer: 1) Did any DU particles on the ground become airborne and blow off-base on October 23, 2007, when several 2,000-pound bombs were dropped on Pohakuloa by a B-2? 2) Some types of cluster bombs contain DU. Pohakuloa has large areas with spent cluster bonds. Do any contain DU? 3) Why did the Army deny use of DU in Hawai`i for years? 4) Why did they not publicize the 2005 discovery at Schofield until after citizen groups did so? 714 Davy Crocketts were shipped to O`ahu in the 1960s. The 2005 Schofield DU was in spotting rounds for the Davy Crockets. How many Davy Crocketts and spotting rounds are still unaccounted for? For more info contact Cory Harden (mh@interpac.net) or (968-8965).

by Phil Barnes
Phil Barnes will be showing slides of his recent trip to Southeast Asia. The major emphasis will be on the natural areas and eco-tourism opportunities in Laos. The presentation will be held at the Kea`au Community Center, behind the Kea`au Police Station, Thursday, February 7, 7:00 pm. For further information call Phil (965-9695).

by Phil Barnes
We are entering another political cycle in 2008; therefore we will need to get our new political committee up and running. We will be designing a questionnaire and interviewing candidates for elected office here on the Big Island. For further information, call Phil Barnes (965-9695) after the middle of January, as I will be out of state till then..

Posted September 1, 2007

by Cory Harden

Depleted Uranium
There may be DU at Pohakuloa. A recent Army letter refers to “the depleted uranium (DU) discovered on U.S. Army ranges at Schofield Barracks and the Pohakuloa Training Area.” And the Schofield weapon system that contained DU may also have been used at Pohakuloa. The Army is conducting an evaluation of Schofield, Makua and Pohakuloa in cooperation with the State Department of Health, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other State and Federal agencies.
However, no airborne radiation from Pohakuloa has been detected by Kona citizens with their own radiation monitors, assisted by Dr. Lorrin Pang. Dr. Pang is head of the Maui Department of Health, but is assisting with the DU issue as a private citizen.
And no radon, a decay product of DU, has been detected blowing off Pohakuloa, according to Halstead Harrison, a Washington State atmospheric scientist also volunteering his time.
Still, since the Army denied use of DU in Hawai`i for years before the Schofield discovery, the current DU evaluation warrants close scrutiny.

Navy Expansion
Hearings are set in August concerning expansion of Navy operations in two million square nautical miles of airspace, ocean and islands stretching from Hawai`i Island through Papahanaumokuakea (Northwest Hawaiian Islands). Marine life will be impacted by sonar and detonations; expended missiles, torpedoes, mines and ammunition; sunken hulks, buoys and parachutes.
Meanwhile, past Navy use of Pearl Harbor has made it a giant Superfund site with about 750 contamination areas, including radioactive waste in sediment from nuclear-powered ships. Almost five million gallons of low-level radioactive waste was discharged into the harbor in the 1960s and 1970s.
Public speaking was forbidden at the September 2006 hearings on the current expansion. Speakers are allowed three minutes apiece in the next round. The Hawai`i Island hearing is Wednesday, August 29, at Waiakea High School, 155 W. Kawili St., Hilo. Open house starts at 5 PM; then a Navy presentation and public comments run from 6 to 9 PM. Written comments accepted until Sept. 17, 2007. The EIS website is http:www.govsupport.us/navynepahawaii/EIS.aspx.

October hearing dates concerning the Army Stryker expansion will soon be announced. A court order directed the Army to thoroughly evaluate Stryker locations other than Hawai`i. The percentage of military land in Hawai`i is already five times greater than in Alaska and Colorado . . . and the Stryker will cause greater environmental impacts in Hawai`i than the other possible locations, Alaska and Colorado. But Hawai`i rates higher in factors favorable to the Stryker.
Wherever it goes, the Stryker will degrade the environment, because of the enormous training area it requires.
The Stryker expansion is going forward while almost eight hundred military sites in Hawai`i are left in hazardous condition. And recent revelations include two thousand steel drums of radioactive waste dumped in the ocean near the islands, and eight thousand tons of chemical munitions dumped in shallow seas off O`ahu years ago.
Citizens risked arrest to speak publicly at the first round of hearings in early 2007. Like the Navy, the Army prohibited public speaking. So citizens used their own sound systems to speak. In Hilo, almost one hundred people showed up and spent three hours raising concerns about the Stryker. Public speaking will be allowed at the next round of hearings. Written comments will be taken till October 30, 2007. The EIS is at http://www.sbct-seis.org/.

Cruise Ships
What was the “brown water gushing out”1 and “yellow sea foam around”1 Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America in Kailua-Kona August 1? What caused “feces, poop, and brown swirls”2 that afternoon in the sea off Old Kona Airport?
We’ll never know if there was a health hazard, since Department of Health did not sample the water till the next day.
The brown water could have been mud washing off an anchor and chain, said NCL. Or material stirred up from the sea bottom, said DOH. . . . but as of 2005, the anchorage used by cruise ships has been 130 feet deep. No explanations were reported on the yellow foam and feces.
Do we need stronger oversight of cruise ships? Yes! Please call your Congressional representaves in support of the Federal Clean Cruise Ship Act. Sen. Akaka (935-1114); Sen. Inouye (935-0844); Rep. Abercrombie (808) 541-2570; Rep. Hirono (935-3756).

1 Kailua-Kona resident Jewel Moore, quoted in “West Hawai`i Today,” August 2, 2007.
2 Kailua-Kona resident Lenore Hunter, quoted in “West Hawai`i Today,” August 2, 2007.

Watch for no Environmental Impact Statement for Kawaihae’s Pier 4, which will serve Superferry . . . or a narrowly focused EIS that is concerned only about pier construction and not the broad impacts of pier users like Superferry. Superferry impacts may include whale strikes, spreading of invasive species and overcrowding of harbors and recreation areas.
An EIS should be triggered by use of Federal highway funds and State Harbor funds for Pier 4. But officials offer nothing more than vague promises that “all applicable permits will be addressed.” If you support an EIS for Pier 4, please contact Patrick Tom with Highways at Hwy.Stip.Projects@hawaii.gov, and Fred Pasqua with Harbors at fred.pascua@hawaii.gov

Posted March 1, 2007

By Janice Palma-Glennie

Hundreds of acres of West Hawai`i coastline are slated for extensive private development. Want to help protect these critical areas with a few strokes of your pen?

Sign two petitions to protect the coastline.   Petitions are circulating to stop proposed mega-developments

(a Walmart Superstore in the plan!) near Honokohau Harbor at Kealakehe (Jacoby Development, Inc.) and O`oma II adjacent to Kohanaiki “Pine Trees” (North Kona Village LLC, which includes past Cliftos’ principals).

These  two  developments  would  spell  disaster  for  the  cultural,  environmental  and  social  resources  of West

Hawai`i.   And  both  proposed  development  plans  fly  in  the  face  of community pleas to:  1) stop coastal development,

2) catch up with infrastructure deficits before more rezoning and development is permitted in West Hawai`i, and 3) wait until the Kona Community Development Plan (CDP) is written into law before any new developments are considered.

2)   Weigh  in  on  the  County’s  Open  Space  Commission  Acquisition  List.  Public  scoping  meetings put

O`oma II in the top ten of places to be acquired as Public, Open Space.  Your input in the annual Open Space update will help let County officials know that development-threatened O`oma II and coastal Honokohau/Kealakehe are still in the public’s top picks for Open Space protection.

For more information on petitions, please send inquiries to palmtree7@earthlink.net

For Open Space info/survey, contact Stacie Waltjen at 961-8251, or inquire online at http://www.hawaii-county.com/finance/ponc.htm.

Posted March 1, 2007

By Debbie Ward

            The Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group recently recognized seven outstanding students for research on Hawai`i’s environment at the Hawai`i District Science and Engineering Fair held Saturday, February 17 in Hilo.
            In the Senior Research Division, Mali`o Kodis received the Mae Mull Award for her research project entitled “Seedbank Analysis of Morella cerifera Presence along the Mohouli Extension.”  Mull was instrumental in preserving the last remaining home of the native Hawaiian Palila bird – the forest of koa, mamane and naio which rings the slopes of Mauna Kea.  A dedicated leader in the Sierra Club and the Hawai`i Audubon Society, Mull volunteered many hours to preserve Hawai`i’s vulnerable native ecosystems.
            In the Junior Research Division, Hunter S. Wilburn and Dakota G. K. Walker were recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to the outstanding junior research projects relating to the environment of Hawai`i.  Their project was entitled “Prey and Pellets.”  These awards were given in memory of Gagne, an entomologist who specialized in Hawaiian insects.  He loved to help young people investigate the mysteries of Hawaiian evolution, and was instrumental in developing the `Ohi`a Project while on staff with the Bishop Museum.  A leader in the Sierra Club, Gagne volunteered many hours to preserve Hawai`i’s vulnerable environment.
            In the Junior Research in Physical Science Division, Megan Kurohara received the Don Worsencroft Award for her project  “Maximizing the Potential of Hydropower.” Dr. Worsencroft was a Professor of Physical Science at Hawai`i Community College, dedicated to helping students understand the mysteries of our world.  David Awai-Martins was recognized with the Ruth Lani Stemmermann Award for his Junior Division Display entitled, “Why Are the Ohia Trees Dying?” Lani Stemmermann was a plant ecologist who specialized in Hawaiian botany.  She loved to help young people investigate the mysteries of Hawaiian evolution, and was an inspiring teacher at the Hawai`i Community College.  Stemmermann, who volunteered many hours to preserve Hawai`i’s vulnerable ecosystems, was instrumental in protecting the rare and threatened ecosystems at Pohakuloa Training Area.
            Moku Loa Group also presented two additional awards for Earth Science and Environmental Science relating to Hawai`i.  The recipients were Healohamele Genovia and Palani Kahakalau; title of their project: “Riffles and Run.”
            The students each received certificates and checks for $50.00.  Through these awards, the Sierra Club members hope to honor scientists active in protecting our native habitats, and encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics related to the Hawaiian environment.
            Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its memorial fund to support the Science Fair and other educational programs for students.  Tax deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to the club c/o Moku Loa Group, PO Box 1137, Hilo Hi 96721.  For more information contact Deborah Ward (966-7361).


The Moku Loa Group Conservation Committee meets monthly in East Hawai`i on the last Wednesday of the month in the Ola`a Community Center in Kea`au.  We have a potluck at 5:30 pm, followed by a meeting at 6:00 pm.  Community members are welcome to bring concerns, reports and updates regarding conservation issue.

Mauna Kea Update – by Debbie Ward, Chair

            At the January meeting, Debbie Ward reported that Third Circuit Judge Glenn Hara has issued his order affirming the position of the Sierra Club, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and the Royal Order of Kamehameha that a comprehensive summit-wide management plan must be approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources before any further land use is considered on the summit.  Further, he ruled that the UH Master Plan 2000 does not have the force of law, since it was never reviewed or approved by the Board.  This significant ruling affirms the work of Mae Mull, Nelson Ho and many others in the Sierra Club over the past twenty-five years to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Pacific’s highest peak and sacred site.  Only two days after the ruling, the University and the Air Force held public meetings about Pan-STARRS, the latest telescope proposal.  Sierra Club members questioned the military aspects of the project, cited the judge’s ruling, and called for a halt to the EIS work, since no management plan exits.

No Public Speaking on Stryker – by Cory Harden

            You risked arrest if you spoke in public at the last round of Stryker meetings.  The meeting format gave top billing to the Army message and disallowed public speaking – as did two previous military environmental meetings in Hilo.  The military brought videos, display boards and staff to answer individual questions; citizens could not address comments to the group, but only to video cameras and court reporters.  Activists spoke anyway, bringing their own sound systems to one meeting in Honolulu and one in Hilo.  In Hilo, a hundred people came, and many spoke, for three hours.  Only one supported the Strykers – an Army staff person.
            The Strykers have already started coming to Hawai`i.  At $700 million, the Stryker project is the largest Army project in Hawai`i since World War II.   Land near Waimea (23,000 acres) was sold to the Army for Stryker training.  The training will damage cultural and archaeological sites and bring severe erosion and dust.  Noise will be heard for miles.
            Meanwhile, unexploded ordnance, toxins and other hazards have been left on old military sites throughout Hawai`i.  More hazards were recently discovered – 8,000 tons of chemical weapons dumped off O`ahu after World War II, and depleted uranium at Schofield Barracks.  (The Army had denied DU use in Hawai`i.)
            The no-speaking meetings may have violated environmental law.  But the meetings were supposed to remedy a previous violation – the Army’s failure to adequately consider sites other than Hawai`i for the Stryker.  A court decision found nothing in the record that distinguished Hawai`i from other possible sites.  The Army argued that it wanted jungle terrain; but Strykers work best in cities.  The Army also admitted most of its Stryker activities were not crucial for national security.  And if the United States pulls out of Iraq soon, some question the need for a new Stryker brigade.
            The next step is public meetings in May on the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Please insist on public speaking at these meetings by contacting the Army and people in Congress:
            Robert DiMichele, US Army  <Robert.dimichele@us.army.mil>
            Senator Daniel Inouye  <http://inouye.senate.gov/>
            Senator Daniel Akaka  <http://akaka.senategov/public/index.cfm>
            Representative Neil Abercrombie  <http://www.house.gov/abercrombie/>
            Representative Mazie Hirono  <http://hirono.house.gov/>
For more info, contact me (<mh@interpac.net> or 968-8965); or go to the future Army website: <www.sbct-seis.org>.

Oil Dumping in the Pacific by Cory Harden
By Cory Harden

            Five hundred tons of oil were illegally dumped on Vanuato Island (of “Survivor” fame) by the cruise ship Pacific Star (P&O Australia) in November 2006.  The level of environmental vandalism was called “unimaginable.”  Apparently deep holes were dug, lined with thin plastic, and filled with oil and raw sewage.  A river below the dump site is used for drinking.
            An investigator filmed the dumping – plus illegal drugs, underage drinking and public lewdness being condoned by staff on the Pacific Star.  His tapes vanished from his cabin and he was put off the ship.
            Also, a former Pacific Star employee alleges he witnessed oil dumped at sea in 2005, leaving an oil slick almost two miles long.  He said it was done in a casual manner that suggested dumping was not uncommon.
            The illegal Vanuato dumping cost under $200.  Legal disposal would have cost $30,000.    Carnival Corporation’s net profit for 2006 was $2.28 billion.
            Hawai`i hosts several cruise lines – Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and Princess – which are part of P&O’s parent company, Carnival Corporation.

What Can You Do?

            Boycott sailing and servicing Carnival, Cunard, Holland America and Princess in Hawai`i … elsewhere boycott the other Carnival Corporation lines: Costa, Ocean Village, P&O, P&O Australia, Seabourn, Seetours/Aida, Swan Hellenic, Windstar.
            Complain to Carnival Corporation (305) 599-2600.
            Report dumping.  You may receive thousands of dollars in reward money.  Contact Cory Harden, PO Box 10265, Hilo, Hawai`i 96721,  <mh@interpac.net> or  (808) 968-8965.
            Support the national Clean Cruise Ship Act via <http://www.congress.org>.

Posted December 1, 2006

By Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers

The Moku Loa Group Birthday Gala was held at the Nani Mau Gardens on October 14, 2006. On behalf of the Moku Loa Group, Hawai`i Chapter of the Sierra Club, I would personally like to thank everyone who participated, help set up and decorate, and especially our donors for their generous contributions to our Silent Auction.

The Moku Loa Group 30th Birthday Gala Celebration proved to be a successful event financially; we raised over $3,500.00 profit. All of the proceeds will be used to further fund our environmental programs, outings program and increased environmental protection efforts here on the Big Island of Hawai`i. A special mahalo also to those of you who attended the event. I hope you enjoyed the great food and musical entertainment. Moku Loa Group appreciates your purchasing those wonderful silent auction items. A special thanks to Lava 105 Radio for broadcasting from the Nani Mau Gardens.

Sierra Club had a great opportunity for some extensive radio exposure and community outreach; several people attended after hearing about it on the radio. Mahalo nui loa for your support from Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers (MLG Fundraising Chair).

Mahalo to our Moku Loa Group Sponsors and Silent Auction Donors. The many businesses and individuals who donated items for our silent auction:
Ken Fujiyama; Frame It Hawai`i; Cory Harden; Jesus Sanchez; Hilo Art & Glass; Jon Olson; Tomas Belsky; Basically Books; Hilo Hanalina Gallery; Chase and Hane Gallery; Arthur Johnsen Gallery; Mary Brown; Volcano Rainforest Retreat – Kathleen & Peter Golden; Kilauea Coffee Company – Cathy and Cary Fincher; Fantastic Sam’s Haircut – Bruce Knight; Brad Lewis Lava Photography; Sierra Club Books; Hilo Hawaiian Hotel – Nancy; Randy Kaulfers; Coconut Landing Vacation Rentals – Diane Fournier & Phil Barnes; Kamehameha Canoe Club; Nicholas Myrianthis; Paul Booth Esq.; Aloha Outpost Internet Café – Lamont; Kona Shark’s Coffee and Mac Nuts – Sharkey Ross; Kana at Hawaiian Jungle Hale; Pahoa Chiropractic – Dr. Lozano, Paul Campbell, Hilo Lanes Bowling – Ro Ann; Patricia’s Transitions Gifts; Marina Curtis; Lehua Nena Nursery; Hawaiian Acres of Orchids; Barbara Brown; Hilo Harley-Davidson; Charles Stanton; Curves in Keaa`u-Shipman Park; Touched by Angels; Dorothy Sanger; Rob Culbertson; Jennifer Ho; Josie Harden; JD Thompson; Sudha Achar; Jan Moon Silks; Patrick Warren; Bruce at Office Max; Kona Jack’s Coffee – Jack Kelly; Susan Hicks; Keaa`u Natural Foods; Kalapana Tropicals, Inc.; Marlin Magic Lures – Gary & Karen Eoff; Kalani Honua – Richard Koob; Beth Kaplowitt; Kathleen Kam; Abundant Life – Malu Shizue; Aloha Café; Tina Strober Yoga Instruction; Village Toy Shop; Johanna O’Kelley-SC; Rose Acevedo; Albert Cortez – Hawai`i Community College Forest Team; Star Mullins; Flawless Hair Salon; Hilo Honu Inn Bed and Breakfast; Big Island Toyota; Sean Stuhara; Sara Burgess; Gerdine Markus.

Special thanks to the Gala Committee for coordinating this event: Phil Barnes, Paul Campbell, Sarah Moon, Cory Harden and Charles Stanton. Our Wonderful Entertainment: “No Etiquette” – Tony Selvage and Bill Anger and Joe Marquand. And lastly, many mahalos to the volunteers for their time and thankless efforts: Robin Moorehouse, Randy Kaulfers, Laura Camacho, Rose Acevedo, Sarah Moon.
Hope you all had a great time!


Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers was selected by the Honors and Awards Committee to receive the National Sierra Club’s Special Achievement Award for 2006. This award honors an individual Sierra Club member, committee, group or chapter for a single act of particular importance dedicated to conservation or to the Club. Roberta was flown to San Francisco and received her award at the annual dinner on September 16.

She was honored for her extensive work planning and implementing the Sierra Showcase, as well as helping facilitate the deliberative sessions of the Sierra Summit 2005. In addition, Roberta serves on the Council of Club Leaders EXCOM as Vice Chair for Finance, and is the Moku Loa Group fundraising chair. Congratulations and thank you for all the work you have done for the environment!

Posted September 1, 2006

2% Solution – Vote “YES” in November ‘06
By Debbie Hecht

The Sierra Club is working with the Save Our Lands Citizens’ Committee and supports the 2% for Open Space Ballot Initiative. A “YES” vote in November will change the existing Open Space and Natural Resources Ordinance by dedicating 2% of Hawai`i County property taxes each year to preserve open spaces and by removing the $5 million limit on funds that can be held in the Preservation Fund. Strong support was indicated by the 9,500 signatures (12.7% of registered voters) that were collected by volunteers in 3 months and by the unanimous approval by the Hawai`i County Council to place this measure on the ballot in November.

In 2005, the Hawai`i County Council passed an ordinance that created the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund, and the Open Space Commission, as part of the County Code, Chapter 2, Article 42, Section 2-214. An Open Space Commission was formed with nine commissioners, one appointed by each Council member and confirmed by the Mayor. This fund is intended to protect access to our beaches and mountains, preserve historic and culturally important sites, and to preserve watershed areas, forests, coastal areas and agricultural lands.

On April 6, 2006 the Open Space Commission submitted to the Mayor their list of properties recommended for acquisition (see below). Real property tax revenue for Hawai`i County’s fiscal year ’04-’05 was $131,087,098.76.

If this ordinance had been in place in 2005, we would have set aside $2,621,741 with the potential of leveraging County funds up to $11 million in buying power from Federal, State and private matching funds for land protection. If this measure passes, it is estimated we could expect almost #3.5 million to be placed in the fund this year.

The Sierra Club supports this initiative because it will provide a stable source of funding to support island-wide, cooperative land conservation efforts and attract funding from the State and Federal governments and priate conservation donors. For example, Honu`apo was acquired in 2006 with only $500,.00 in County funds. State, Federal and private funding covered the balance. This property is 225 acres of coastal land in Ka`u, adjacent to Whittington Beach Park; it is valued at $3.5 million.

Kauai and Maui have set aside ½ percent and 1 percent of their property taxes. Oahu is also working on a ballot measure. This change to the Open Space Ordinance will not raise taxes. This money will come from 2% of the existing taxes. Hawai`i County had an increase of $50 million in property tax revenue last year. This is not a change to the County Charter. We are dedicating our efforts for a large voter turn-out so that our elected officials will recognize the wide spread support for Hawai`i County land preservation. We hope voters will send a strong message to the County Council that the Open Space Fund cannot be “raided” for other expenses as the $3 million that was “re-appropriated” in June of 2006. Our open spaces are what make the Big Island unique and are fundamental to our way of life. Natural, undeveloped lands do not make demands on overburdened existing infrastructure or County services. Please vote “YES” for the 2% Solution in November, and send a strong message that you support Open Space Conservation.

For information or to donate funds, contact Debbie Hecht (989-3222), hecht.deb@gmail.com.

Open Space Commission’s Priority Properties recommended for purchase: Kawa Bay; Waipio Lookout Point; Pohue Bay; Maulua Gulch; Punalu`u Beach Park and adjacent lands; Mahukona; Kamano; Kou; Hihiu; Kamoa; Cape Kumukahi; O`oma (makai of Queen Kaahumanu Highway; Keamuku; Queen Emma Estates (coastal parcel – Mau`umae Beach); Puapua`a; Ke`ei Beach.

Properties recommended for acquisition through partnerships: Kiholo Bay; Kealakehe Regional Park; Kahena Ditch Road; Lalamilo Farm Lots – Waimea; Forest Reserve Honaunau and South Kona, Ka`u Coast; North American Properties: Ka`a puna, Olelo Moana, Ka`ohe; Kamoa Point; Reish (Lapakahi State Historial Park aes); Makalawena; Old Kukuihaele Quarry and Breakwater; Hoku`ula Battleground; Kahoe; Ka`u Forest Reserve; Botelho Ranch; SC Ranch; KK Ranch; Keanakolu Koa Forests; Ka Lae/South Point; Cohen (Lapakahi State Historical Park area); Pu`u `O`o Ranch Pi`ihonua; Ka`u Great Crack (Southwest Rift of Kilauea Volcano); Waipunalei/Laupahoehoe.

Posted June 1, 2006

By Debbie Ward

A stunning blow was dealt to the DLNR and the University of Hawai`i last month when Judge Glenn Hara ruled in favor of Sierra Club and others that Mauna Kea deserves comprehensive management to conserve, protect and preserve the resource.

When BLNR approved the construction of the outrigger telescopes following lengthy contested case hearings through 2003-2004, Sierra Club, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, and Clarence Ching sought the pro bono assistance of attorney Lea Hong and Dexter Keeaumoku Kaiama to guide us through an appeal to the Third District Court. Our position was that the project “management plan” was not comprehensive, and did not cover the entire summit of Mauna Kea, so the rights and resources of the people of Hawai`i remained at risk: hazardous and sewage waste contamination, candidate endangered species protection, public access and use, and the protection of Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights and resources needed to be addressed.

The judge agreed and further found that NO BLNR-approved management plans allow for further astronomy development. Nelson Ho and Debbie Ward of Hilo invite interested members to get involved, to ensure protection of resources that are community based, incorporating multiple uses.

By Phil Barnes

On Saturday, May 6th long time Sierra Club activist Ed Clark passed away from a long term illness. He had been very active in both the Moku Loa Group Conservation Committee and as a past member of the Executive Committee. His fundraising ability helped to allow the club to pursue its long term goals. Anyone involved in East Hawai`i peace and justice movements is familiar with Ed’s calm demeanor, keen wit and follow through. His many “letters to the editor” were always concise and helped to clarify complex issues. He had also been a leader of the Kea`au Unitarian Church. This kind, gentle man will be sorely missed by his many friends and associates.

By Cory Harden

A proposed cleanup plan for an arsenic- and lead-contaminated 4.4-acre site next to Kea`au Shopping Center drew concerns from the Sierra Club and a soil chemistry professor.

The Sierra Club, citing “too many unanswered questions,” urged development of a statewide plan for all land potentially contaminated by past plantation activities before a final decision is made on the Kea`au site. “Not only is the proposed plan inadequate to protect health—it also passes liability from landowners to the State Department of Health (DOH), which may leave taxpayers holding the bag for decades of potential health problems,” said Cory Harden of Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group. “We also recommend that statewide plans include shipping contaminated soil from the Kea`au site out of Hawai`i,” she said.

Risks to children, and various pathways by which people absorb arsenic and lead, may not have been sufficiently examined, according to comments sent to DOH by Dr. N. V. Hue, Professor of Environmental Soil Chemistry at the University of Hawai`i in Honolulu. The plan does not characterize contaminated soil as hazardous waste, and does not require special disposal for plants from the most contaminated area of the site. Hue recommended re-evaluating these approaches.

Use of consultants hired by Kea`au Hospitality, not by DOH, was questioned by the Sierra Club. Dividing the site into four parcels for planning drew a comment from Hue that this approach needed “more scientific support.” The plan used a bio-accessibility concept, which does not consider the total amount of toxins, but only the amount people are likely to absorb. Hue said this concept “needs improvement,” especially for arsenic.

The Kea`au site has been in the public eye since 2003, when elevated levels of arsenic and lead were found there. In June 2004 DOH approved a plan to have the landowner, W. H. Shipman Ltd., cover the site with new soil, pavement and buildings; but the cost was higher than expected. Kea`au Hospitality, whose vice-president, Bob Saunders, is a former Shipman president, proposed buying the site to build a hotel, if an affordable cleanup plan were approved by DOH. DOH and a consultant hired by Kea`au Hospitality developed the current plan, which proposes moving the most contaminated soil to less-contaminated areas of the site, and covering it with less-contaminated soil, pavement and buildings. DOH is studying public comments and expects to announce a decision on the plan in a few weeks.

Harden asked, “Do arsenic, lead and a hotel belong on the same site?” She added, “The decision on Kea`au will set the course for old plantation sites statewide.”

Posted March 1, 2006

By Debbie Ward

            Sierra Club members have long regarded the wild beauty, Pacific-wide view planes and cultural significance of Mauna Kea as one of the treasures Hawai`i must strive to protect.  So, when the University requested a lease to build one telescope in the 60s, and then built five more without permits, our members joined hundreds at DLNR hearings in the early 80s to ask for a halt to telescope construction and a plan to manage the summit reserve.  Hawaiian cultural practitioners pleaded with the Board to prevent further cultural and archaeological damage to the sacred summit of Kukahauula, the Pacific’s highest peak.
            Instead, the BLNR allowed a limit on construction to eleven major and two minor telescopes, and approved a management plan with conditions that included baseline biological surveys and monitoring.  The University did not conduct the surveys and monitoring, nor did it follow the conditions to protect the resources.  The most recent construction included a single “telescope” with twenty-four viewing units, including one emplaced on the side of Pu`u Poliahu, a particularly sacred site near the summit.
            When the UH Institute for Astronomy, representing NASA and the University of California, came to DLNR with a request for further expansion, beyond the limits established by the Board, and without a management plan, Sierra Club members stepped up to ask for a contested case hearing.  The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) also stepped up, and prevailed in Federal court, leading to the completion of the first environmental impact statement ever conducted in this sensitive habitat.  The EIS found that “In conclusion, the overall cumulative impact of past, present and reasonable foreseeable activities is substantial, adverse and significant.”  Despite the cumulative damage already inflicted on the natural and cultural resources of the summit, the BLNR ignored both this finding and its own administrative procedures, allowing plans for constructing four to six more telescopes to proceed.  Sierra Club, in association with Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, and Royal Order of Kamehameha I, together with Clarence Ching, a cultural practitioner, appealed the decision in the First Circuit Court in June.  The judge has not yet rendered an opinion, but in early February NASA announced budget cuts that could mark the end of efforts to expand the Keck telescopes.
            On the legislative front, in 2005 Sierra Club called for an audit of the management of Mauna Kea, and the Legislative Auditor’s report, released in December, concurred with our assertion that Mauna Kea’s fragile natural and cultural resources demand responsible stewardship by the University; and that improvements in management do not go far enough.  The auditor found that it is essential that UH prepare a comprehensive natural and cultural resources management plan to establish a baseline of information and provide guidance toward protecting and enhancing critical habitats and sensitive cultural resources.
            Further, we are calling for a financial audit of UH’s astronomy partners (including foreign and multinational subleases), who pay at most a nominal one dollar ($1.00) per year for the use of ceded land in the Conservation District.  We believe that the University’s and BLNR’s negligence has caused serious deterioration of the summit wild natural habitats, and adequate funding is required to address thirty years of abuse and expansion of protections.
            We are also asking the Legislature to consider the formation of an Independent Community Based Management Authority for the purpose of overseeing all aspects of the management of Mauna Kea, including protection of the Conservation District and further development.  This body should include community representatives (i.e., recreational users, environmental and Native Hawaiian representatives chosen by the Hawai`i Island community) empowered to vote and fully participate in the decision-making process.  The Authority should include respective government agencies responsible for protection of conservation districts and resources, as well as University representatives.
            Thanks to a generous grant our hui was able to hire planners from the University of California at Berkeley to provide the decision makers with a professional assessment of the current situation, including the status of the baseline studies of all flora, fauna, hydrology and more.  We hope that, in this way, we can clarify for all concerned parties the current status of the ecosystem, sacred landscape, conditions and use.  We hope to soon present their preliminary data and findings.
            If you would like to continue to be appraised of the legislative action, or would like further information about the Club’s position, please contact Debbie Ward, MLG ExCom Vice-Chair and Mauna Kea Issues Committee Co-Chair (966-7361) or at specialti450@aol.com.

Posted December 1, 2005

By Paul Campbell
Against the background of hotbed social activism for which San Francisco is famous, the Sierra Summit took place September 8-11 at the Moscone Center North. This was/is the Sierra Club’s first-ever national environmental convention and expo; and Roberta Brashear-Kaulfers and I were honored to represent our Chapter and Group. Along with over 5,000 registrants and 700 delegates from across the country, we gathered for three days and evenings of electrifying speakers, numerous workshops, a humungous exposition floor (including over 100 Sierra Club booths), a film festival and an evening of comedy with Bill Maher. I’m still buzzin’ with the bees!

The convention was the result of a process that had begun 2-1/2 years ago; and for the delegates, the highlight was gathering for a decision-making process to create a guiding vision for the Club through the next six years. It was a truly democratic, often mind-numbing and contentious exercise, culminating victoriously, over three sessions, in a consensus. While it may be true that all roads (in this case, issues) lead to Rome (global environmental health), delegates agreed that the topic rating highest in the mass consciousness today is energy. Hence, “Building a New Energy Future” emerged as the top priority, and our rallying cry. “Building Vibrant Healthy Communities” followed.

Among the more notable speakers were Robert Kennedy, Jr. (what passion!) and Al Gore – who flew in from a cancelled gig in New Orleans. Harvard sociologist Marshall Ganz, who along with Sierra Club president Lisa Renstrom, initiated the Sierra Summit process, amazed a packed hall with down-home mana`o on how the Club can be more organized and effective. Roberta and I look forward eagerly to sharing these and other wonderful, exciting excerpts with you at the General Membership Meeting and potluck in December!
A Hui Hou.

In the last issue of the Malama, the Sierra Club journal of the Hawai'i Chapter, I wrote of the unnecessary and unwise use of pesticides as a preventative for ground termites. The county building code requires a home builder to do preventative treatment before pouring their concrete pad whether they live in lava rock areas that do not host them, or in areas like Volcano that are too cold for them.

In response to that letter, I learned of the concern of several Kona resident's about the using of the termite pesticide in the several large developments being built near the anchialine ponds. They are in areas without soil to hold the termiticide and prevent it from going into the groundwater. These rare and fragile ponds are home to unusual plants and animals. They are located close to the shoreline and are one of Hawaii's most threatened ecosystems.

Also since my letter I have learned of several recent studies showing even more dangers to the environment from use of these termiticides, known as synthetic pyrethroids. Therefore, an even stronger case can be made against their "blanket" use over all the island. The alternatives permitted by the building code, basaltic sand and termi-mesh, while more expensive, are effective for decades.

There is also a question as to the effectiveness of spraying before building. The pesticide warranty is only 1 -2 years. So in heavily infested areas like Hilo, homes may be invaded by the termites a few years later even though they had the original spraying. If you know anyone that has had this happen to them, I would like to hear about it. People need to educate themselves how to protect their home from termites. Beyond Pesticides, a National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides has an excellent website. To learn what to do, go to the website.

Concerned residents are joining me now in forming a Pesticide Strategy Committee. We invite any one interested in joining our group to please contact me. Also if you missed my letter on pesticides in the Malama newsletter, I would be glad to email it to you.
Mahalo for your interest and help,

Mary Marvin Porter

Posted September, 2005

By Cory Harden

Disturbing reports: mysterious slime, hard to wash off the skin, began appearing in Keaukaha waters a year and a half ago. A long white trail, persisting despite wave action, was seen behind the Pride of Aloha from Honoli`i this month. Shredded plastic was seen on Kona shores last month. We suspect cruise ships are dumping – help us prove it!

If you see trash, oil slicks or strange colors in the water, please contact KAHEA (the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance) at www.kahea.org/ocean/report.php and fill out a short report form. They are collecting reports statewide. You may also contact me at 968-8965 or mh@interpac.net about dumping, or to help with pickets and passing out flyers.

Consider These Numbers:

1/2 - Portion of fines that may go to people who report cruise ship dumping.
3 – Number of people who picketed* the Pride of Aloha this month – Sarah Moon, Jan
Moon and me. We got lots of shakas and friendly honks from residents driving by. When I passed out flyers at shoreline areas later, most people seemed familiar with the issue and took a flyer.
17 – Number of dumping incidents in Hawai`i by cruise ships since 2003 . . . including dumping treated sewage in Penguin Bank, a protected fishing ground off Moloka`i frequented by humpback whales.
300 – Number of dumping incidents worldwide, 1993-2003 . . . including dumping oil,
garbage, hazardous waste, sewage and graywater; damaging coral reefs, and falsifying records.
$500,000 – Portion of fines awarded to a crew member who refused an order from Holland America to pump oily bilge water overboard, and reported the crime to the Coast Guard.

* The picket was not a Sierra Club event.

By Cory Harden

The Stop Stryker Group is inviting the community to a forum to chart an alternate future for Keamuku. Keamuku is the 23,000 acres near Waiki`i Ranch and Pohakuloa military training area that may be sold to the Army for Stryker training. The forum is on Saturday, March 5, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at Waimea Community Center, adjacent to Waimea Park and across from Daniel Thieubaut restaurant.

The forum will include information on the impacts from hundreds of Strykers - severe erosion, dust, noise and damage to native species and ancient Hawaiian sites. The Stop Stryker Group is supporting the landowner, Parker Ranch, in pursuing alternate uses of the land such as replanting native species, restoring archaeological sites, hosting of a wind farm. They are open to other ideasfrom the community. This is a good opportunity for community members to have input on a major change proposed for our island. For further information contact Cory Harden (968-8965) or e-mail mh@interpac.net.

By Charlie Stanton

The Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group recognized six outstanding students for research on Hawai`i’s environment at the Hawai`i District Science and Engineering Fair Saturday, February 12, in Hilo.

In the Senior Research Division on Environmental Science relating to Hawai`i, Kevin M. Mack, Pahoa High School, received the Mae Mull Award for his research project, “The Invasion of Alien Algae at Wai`opae Marine Life Conservation District.” Mae Mull was instrumental in preserving the last remaining home of the native Hawaiian palila bird – the forest of koa, mamane and naio which rings the slopes of Mauna Kea. A dedicated leader in the Sierra Club and the Hawai`i Audubon Society, Mae volunteered many hours to preserving Hawai`i’s vulnerable native ecosystems.

In the Junior Research Division, Zach Hopson, Hawaiian Preparatory Academy, and Cameron A. I. Yasukawa, Waiakea Intermediate School, were recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to the outstanding junior research projects relating to the environment of Hawai`i. These projects were entitled “How Common Pollutants Affect Marine Life” and “Can a Sodium Chloride Solution Be Used as an Effective, Non-toxic and Inexpensive Herbicide as Compared to Glyphosate in the Eradication of Verbascum thapsus?” These awards were given in memory of Gagne, an entomologist who specialized in the study of Hawaiian insects. He loved to help young people investigate the mysteries of Hawaiian evolution, and was instrumental in developing the `Ohi`a Project while on staff with the Bishop Museum. A leader in the Sierra Club, Gagne volunteered many hours to preserve Hawai`i’s vulnerable environment.

The Senior Research Project in Physical Science was awarded to Ryoko Ogasawara, Waiakea High School. He received the Don Worsencroft Award for “Searching for Black Holes II.” Dr. Worsencroft was a former Professor of Physical Science at Hawai`i Community College, dedicated to helping students understand the mysteries of our physical world.

In the Junior Display Division, Aina Dudoit, Kamehameha School, was recognized with the Ruth Lani Stemmermann Award for her display, “Opihi: Is the Population Decreasing?” Lani Stemmermann was a plant ecologist who specialized in Hawaiian botany. She loved to help young people investigate the mysteries of Hawaiian evolution and was an inspiring teacher at the Hawai`i Community College. Stemmerman was instrumental in protecting the rare and threatened ecosystems in the vicinity of Pohakuloa Training Area.

Moku Loa Group also presented its Award for Earth Science Relating to Hawai`i. The recipient was Desirae Marino, Hilo High School, author of “The Effect of Liquefaction on Hilo Soil after a Simulated Earthquake.”

Special thanks to our judges this year, Becky Ostertag and Julie Williams; and to Debbie Ward for arrangements.

The students each received certificates and checks for $25.00. Through these awards the Sierra Club members hope to honor scientists active in protecting our native habitats, and to encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics relating to the Hawaiian environment.

Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its memorial fund to support the Science Fair and other educational programs for students. Tax deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to the Club c/o Moku Loa Group, P.O. Box 1137, Hilo, HI 96721. For more information, contact Charlie Stanton (965-0474).

By Phil Barnes

As some of you are aware, this past year Randy Ching (an active Oahu Sierra Club member) and I undertook a thru-hike on the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail running from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. The trip took two years to plan, as there are a multitude of details to work out.

On April 13 we left Hampton, Tennessee heading north. To avoid the crowds in Georgia in the spring, we had decided on a ‘flip flop’ hike. The first night on the trail we were hit by a snowstorm, but within a week the snow was long gone with the temperature nudging 80 degrees. There were a few thru-hikers who had left Springer and were already this far north, but they were very fast hikers. We averaged fifteen miles per day, plenty for us. My pack averaged a bit over thirty pounds when heading out of town with six days’ worth of food, which is pretty light.

For those thinking of doing the AT, there is a lean-to shelter about every eight miles or so for the entire length of the trail. We stayed in shelters probably about two-thirds of the time and camped out the rest. We stopped in a town every six days or so, and spent the night in a motel, took showers and picked up one of the eighteen food drops that my brother mailed to us along the trail. On September 8 we summited Mt. Katahdin at the northern end. My daughter, Brooke, met us and drove us back to Hampton, TN, where we started heading south.

Diane, my wife, joined us for the last 400+ miles. Together, we saw the beautiful Southern Appalachians in their fall colors. This southbound section of the trail through North Carolina and Georgia was my favorite part of the hike. We all reached the end of the trail at Springer Mountain in late October.

We had excellent weather on the hike; it was pretty dry and cool much of the way, which is rarely the case. The year before it had rained for thirty straight days in Virginia!

While long distance hiking, you burn up more calories than can possibly be consumed. I lost almost thirty pounds while eating high calorie food non-stop. As soon as you hit a town, the first thing you do is eat a carton of Ben & Jerry’s. Then you go out to dinner. I must admit that I miss eating several Snickers bars a day, but I would like to keep trim and not regain the weight again.

Many generous Sierra Club members made per-mile pledges, allowing me to collect over $1,000 for Moku Loa Group. Thanks to all of you who supported me in this endeavor.

This was such a great trip; I’ll share it with you at a slide show at the Komohana Ag Center upstairs conference room at 7:00 pm, Earth Day, Friday, April 22. There will be a show in Kona scheduled at a later date. Any questions? Contact me (965-9695).

Posted December 1, 2004
By Dr. Gregory Brenner, Pacific Analytics – Natural Resource Consultants

I am a natural resource consultant who was asked to assist in the preparation of the EIS being produced by NASA for the Outrigger Telescope project. I have a PhD in entomology and a Master’s degree in statistics, and have been providing natural resource consulting services for more than fifteen years. I was the lead government scientist during the 1997/98 arthropod assessment of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, and was hired by the Bishop Museum to compile and analyze the data, and to prepare the final reports for that assessment. I lived on the Big Island for five years studying the ecology of native Hawaiian arthropods. I have been studying the high altitude ecosystem on Mauna Kea since 1997 and have been monitoring Wekiu bug populations quarterly for the past three years.

While we all have our biases, of which we often are not even aware, I attempt to limit my own bias by relying on scientific data and remaining objective in my analyses. Many of my colleagues support my methods, but some may disapprove. I respect all their opinions. My motivation is a sincere desire to promote arthropod conservation, and I have dedicated my professional career to working toward that goal, both on the mainland and here in Hawai`i.

A recent article that appeared in the Spring Sierra Club Newsletter was critical of me and my participation in the Outrigger Telescope project. The project involves adding four to six 1.8 meter outrigger telescopes to the twin Keck 10-meter telescopes to enhance the scientific capabilities of this, the world’s largest telescope. When first proposed, the preliminary design for these outriggers involved the disturbance of a large amount of Wekiu bug habitat. I contacted the project managers and told them so, and offered my services to help them change the design to one that minimizes impacts to Wekiu bugs.

During the construction of previous projects on Mauna Kea few provisions were made for protecting the summit environment. The result was substantial damage to Wekiu bug habitat. Determined to prevent further harm, a team of scientists asked my help in making modifications that reduced the amount of habitat disturbance by almost ninety percent. In addition, recommendations made in my mitigation report (available at:
http://www.statpros.com/Wekiu_Bug.html) were embraced by the project and incorporated into their plans. For the first time on Mauna Kea, specific procedures for protecting the natural resources have been included as part of a telescope permit application.

A commitment has been made by the Keck Observatory in both the permit application and in the Draft EIS (available at: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/Outrigger/outrigger_index.html) to incorporate all of my recommended protection measures as provisions in all construction contracts, and to provide oversight of contractor activities to ensure compliance. Contractor and observatory activities will be monitored by independent, trained personnel to ensure compliance to the protection measures. In addition, Wekiu bugs and their habitat will be monitored during the construction and for ten years after to detect impacts. For that monitoring effort, I developed non-lethal Wekiu bug traps that cause only a two percent mortality, compared with one hundred percent mortality of traditional trapping methods.

Quarterly monitoring reports are already available to the public, and will continue to be, to make the process completely open to view. In addition, NASA has committed to funding a study of Wekiu bug ecology if the outrigger project is approved. Finally, an experimental process for habitat restoration will be tested that, if successful, will expand the amount of habitat available to this rare and unusual insect.

I believe my participation in this project has helped to ensure that appropriate protection measures will be implemented. It is the process of listening, discussing, explaining and evaluating in partnership with the astronomers that will result in implementing the environmental protection advocated for so many years.

Studying insects has given us a growing appreciation of their place in the ecology of our world. Astronomy has given us a new perspective our place in the universe. As astronomers make spectacular discoveries that bring us closer to a unified description of all creation – the origins of matter and life in the cosmos – they are also learning to protect the gifts of life Mother Nature has given us here on earth. I feel that the astronomers I have worked with have increased their awareness, and will protect the ecosystem on Mauna Kea while they build their tools to explore space.

Posted September 1, 2004

By Janice Palma-Glennie

As we go to press, residents await Mayor Kim’s decision to veto Cliftos’ O`oma II development proposal. Bill 178 – passed by Councilmen Gary Safarik, Jim Arakaki, Fred Holschuh, Aaron Chung, Leningrad Elarinoff and Mike Tulang – would allow construction of hundreds of residences, hotel rooms and commercial/retail space three times as big as Lowe’s on eighty-three acres of land next to Kohanaiki (“Pine Trees”). Minor changes of the latest draft of the bill amount to mere loopholes. The plan remains as weak and potentially damaging to the environment and infrastructural deficit as earlier proposals were.

In May, Mayor Kim said he would veto any development (other than housing) that would add traffic to roadways deemed critically overburdened. Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway at O`oma is such an area. This reason alone justifies the Mayor’s veto (a healing action that would help ease West Hawai`i ire at the steady drumbeat of inexplicable rezoning doled out by East Hawai`i poliIicians). The fact that O`oma II remains for sale at an already huge potential profit for Cliftos’ is even more reason why this unnecessary, untimely and undesirable plan should be shot down.

Mayor Kim seems to “get” that West Hawai`i resiIents are at the breaking point with unplanned growth. The most important factor in his – and all the Councilmen’s – decision to oppose Cliftos’ plan should be that the West Hawai`i commInity continues to vociferously oppose it. A cave-in by the Mayor might not just mean the death-knell for O`oma: It could mean the potential loss of a long-term love affair with the Mayor and residents of West Hawai`i.

By Nelson Ho

The Sierra Club Resource Library began August 14, 2004 with a generous donation by the Civil Air Patrol. The core of the library is a 1918 “Sierra Edition” of The Writings of John Muir. It is a 10-volume set of the collected writings of the founder of the Sierra Club spanning over forty years; and it includes two books and essays on the natural wonders of the Western states.

To borrow a book or volunteer to house the library, please call Nelson Ho at 933-2650.

By Jennifer Ho

I envision a way to protect land which contains native or mixed forest plants. Realtors are in a unique position to impact land development by making educational information available to a public that may not know or understand the alternatives to bulldozing an entire lot. My goal is to help new Hawai`i arrivals learn about our fragile and precious environment.

I would like feedback and ideas on the feasibility of creating a one-column color brochure-type flier which would be available at realty offices for new landowners – a kind of “Welcome to Hawai`i, our tropical paradise – this is what we do here,” describing the special quality of Hawai`i, and emphasizing the value of maintaining its uniqueness by including it in our landscaping.

It could also lead people to a website with additional information about why leaving land in original forest uncleared is better than bulldozing it: native plants are best-suited, etc. It could also list addresses by island for environmental groups and links, or addresses of native plant nurseries. I know there are realtors who would be happy to distribute this – and with Oprah Winfrey selling Puna (or recommending it), there is no time to lose!

If this project moves forward, is there anyone out there with expertise in designing a web page? I know nothing about how to do that. Do we solicit its design as a donation? Do we offer Sierra Club membership for their help in making a web page (if they are not already a member), or payment? I’m sure I could find Big Island, and probably Kaua`i, nurseries. Many in the native plant community know each other already and that information should be easy enough to obtain. I am happy to volunteer my efforts.

Is there any interest among the environmental community to help with this project? I believe Conservation Council for Hawai`i also supports the idea. The design of a flier, the cost of producing one and whether or not realty companies might be convinced to help defray the expense is a reasonable.

Posted June 1, 2004

By Cory Harden

Pohakuloa. The Army is six months overdue with its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the 23,000-acre expansion of Pohakuloa and other Hawai`i military sites. It is still reviewing 1,500 pages of draft EIS and 3,000 pages of comments. It can’t say how long this will take. But when the final EIS comes out, the public probably won’t get six extra months to comment. And though the EIS is stalled, U.S. House and Senate committees have already put money for expansion into the annual defense authorization bill, which is making its way through Congress.

Waiakea Forest Reserve. The Army has destroyed classified records on Waiakea Forest Reserve, where open-air testing of deadly chemical agents and biological stimulants were conducted secretly in the 1960s. The Army did not respond to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry on the matter until U.S. Representative Ed Case followed up. The destroyed material, Appendix A of a 1988 Army report on Waiakea Forest Reserve, is cited when the report discusses “potential sources of environmental contamination and hazards” and “hazardous and toxic material” and “an operation…to locate and remove all remaining hazardous materials and ordnance.”

By Julie Williams

In the days of the first missionaries to Hawai`i the Old Volcano Trail was a heavily used 30-mile route from Hilo to the top of Kilauea Volcano. This foot and horse trail was regularly traveled until 1894 when a carriage road was completed to Glenwood. It’s exciting to realize that this was the sole passage through the dense `ohi`a forest for many hardy trekkers making the pilgrimage to Pele’s home.

In 2001, the Kea`au Planning Group was formed under the sponsorship of the YWCA. These community members participated in the Healthy Hawai`i Initiative thanks to a grant written by Laura Warner. The group designed and conducted a health needs survey resulting in 312 responses. Biking and hiking trails and recreation programs were among the top unmet needs for the Kea`au to Volcano area. As a result, the Group realized the goal of restoring the Old Volcano Trail would address these needs across our entire community. With the leadership of consultant Eric Kapono, the necessary grants, permits and negotiations were completed, allowing us entry onto the trail.

Since November 2003, a new crop of hardy trekkers has been slowly reopening the trail. This could not be accomplished without the generosity of the R. M. Towill Company, which is providing the pin-to-pin surveying free of charge. Each Saturday we work on the trail with machetes, chain saws and muscle power. Under the leader-ship of Councilman Bob Jacobson, the goal is becoming a reality. To join us, please call Bob’s office at 961-8263.

Posted March 1, 2004
The Result of the 2004 Sierra Club Election is as follows:

Lisa Renstrom 141,407
Jan O'Connell 132,262
Nick Aumen 123,662
Sanjay Ranchod 123,332
David Karpf 110,756

Michael Dorsey 42,401
Ed Dobson 35,825
Chad Hanson 29,104
Robert Roy van de Hoek 15,700
Phillip Berry 15,492
David Pimentel 14,527
Dick Lamm 13,090
Kim McCoy 9,765
Karyn Strickler 8,333
Frank Morris 8,247
Morris Dees 7,554
Barbara Herz 7,525

331 write-ins
14,257 unexercised votes
4,550 multiple marks [on invalid ballots because more than 5 votes cast]

Total returns by Internet 45,559
Total returns by mail 126,016
Total returns by fax 41
Total returns 171,616

Total mailed 757,058
Percent returned 22.67%

To view the Sierra Club List Terms & Conditions, see:

By Roberta Lynn Brashear

At the Hawai`i District Science and Engineering Fair held in Hilo Saturday, February 7, the Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group recognized eight outstanding students for Hawaiian environmental research.
In the senior research division, Malie O. Larish and Kolea Zimmerman, of Waiakea High School, each received the Mae Mull Award for their research projects entitled “Evaluation of Two Copepod Species for Aedes albopictus Control in Tires,” and “Evaluation of Entomopathogenic Fungi in Hawai`i’s Native Rainforest,” respectively. Mae Mull was instrumental in preserving the last remaining home of the native Hawaiian bird, Palila—the forest of koa, mamane and naio which rings the slopes of Mauna Kea.

In the junior research division, Melissa P. A. Luga, of Kamehameha Schools-Hawai`i Campus, and Cameron A. I. Yasukawa, of Waiakea Intermediate School, were recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to outstanding projects relating to the Hawaiian environment. These projects were entitled “Allelopathic Potential of the Paperbark Tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia), and “Can a Sodium Chloride Solution Be Used as an Effective, Non-toxic and Inexpensive Herbicide as Compared to Glyphosate in the Eradication of Verbascum thapsus?” These awards were given in memory of Gagne, an entomologist specializing in Hawaiian insects, who was instrumental in developing the `Ohi`a Project while on the staff of the Bishop Museum.
In the junior research division in Physical Science, Chelsea Geston Takahashi, of Waiakea High School, received the Don Worsencroft award for the project “Acid Rain on the Big Island.” Dr. Worsencroft was a former professor of Physical Science at Hawai`i Community College. In the junior display division, Camie T. Yamashita, of Waiakea Intermediate School, was recognized with the Ruth Lani Stemmerman Award for her display entitled “Renewable Energy.” Lani Stemmerman was a plant ecologist who specialized in Hawaiian botany; she was instrumental in protecting the rare and threatened ecosystems on the flanks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

Moku Loa Group also presented two additional awards for Earth Science and Environmental Science relating to Hawai`i. The recipients were Chihiro Sakaki, of Waiakea Intermediate School, whose project was entitled “Solar Energy: When Does Hilo Receive the Most Solar Radiation?” and Reina Ojiri, of Hilo Intermediate, for her project, “Can E. coqui Populations Be Controlled by Introducing Artificial Retreat Sites in Various Locations?”

The students each received certificates and checks for $25.00. Through these awards, the Sierra Club members hope to honor scientists active in protecting our native habitats, and to encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics related to the Hawaiian environment.
Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its memorial fund for supporting the Science Fair and other educational programs for students. Tax-deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to the club c/o Moku Loa Group, PO Box 1137, Hilo, HI 96721. For more information, contact Roberta Brashear at 966-7002.

By Matt Binder

We have started receiving Action Alerts for the new state legislative session from our lobbyist/executive director, Jeff Mikulina. If you are interested in helping pass good laws and/or opposing bad ones, please visit the state chapter’s legislative website at: www.hi.sierraclub.org/legislative.

This year we are making a strong effort to work in a grand environmental coalition with other groups so that we will have more impact on the legislative process.

On the Big Island, the County Council has yet to pass the General Plan that so many of our members have worked on over the past three years. This is the document that states the overall goals and strategies for the future of our island. It is supposed to be adopted at the turn of each decade. The current draft of the General Plan has some very good environmental statements, and this may be why the Council is refusing to pass it. Please call or write your representatives to tell them it is a disgrace that it is now 2004 and we still don’t have a General Plan. This is another example of their current “No Planning” philosophy. There are a lot of anti-environmental Council members now. Please encourage good people to run against them.

By Cory Harden

There should be no surprises on the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) decision for the 23,000- acre Pohakuloa expansion, since the Army makes the judgment on its own EIS. The final EIS comes out in April or May, and the decision will be made shortly thereafter.
But there are other surprises. Comanche helicopters and 155-mm howitzers have been added to the Stryker Brigade plans – too late to be added to the draft EIS. So the impacts are unknown. And two-thirds of the soldiers who were going to use the 23,000 acres for training will be gone by early summer. Eight thousand soldiers are being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving fewer than 4,500 solders at Schofield Barracks. The Army says it is looking at the situation. Then there is the EIS for the Saddle Road realignment, which fails to take into account any expansion of Pohakuloa.

And there are the life-threatening surprises the Army has left us – unexploded military ordnance littering the 50-plus military sites on our island, which the Army says will take centuries to clean up. County Councilman Bob Jacobson is dealing with this by drafting an “Ordnance Ordinance,” requiring full disclosure of locations of unexploded ordnance. Please support Bob’s ordinance. And please support a legal challenge by identifying how the final EIS fails to address concerns raised in comments on the draft EIS and contacting Jeff Mikulina with your findings.

There are already grounds for a legal challenge: barring of public participation through arrests and other means; “done deal” actions; unethical business/government linkages; and incomplete information in the EIS. A challenge could lead to new interpretations of the National Environmental Policy Act and increased public scrutiny of Army expansion plans.


By Janice Palma-Glennie

Despite bad weather and Friday traffic, over 250 people showed up at a recent County Council hearing held in Keauhou. The topic was Cliftos’ proposed commercial/hotel development at coastal O`oma (on the mauka side of Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway between NELHA and Kohanaiki). Over fifty people testified against the project, while no one testified in favor of it.
At the developer’s request, the hearing on this project’s rezoning has been indefinitely “deferred.” There is no doubt that the community’s voice has made a difference (so far) in slowing down, or hopefully, stopping this untimely, misplaced plan.
Sierra Club and Kohanaiki `Ohana members collected hundreds of postcards that were signed by hearing attendees and local students, declaring opposition to the project. These have been delivered to County Council Chairman James Arakaki and entered into the official County record.

What You Can Do to Help:

  • Please call Council Chairman James Arakaki (who was not present at the hearing) at 961-8272. Ask him to schedule any hearings on this -- and all other significant West Hawai`i issues—in West Hawai`i.
  • If you would like to help, get additional “no rezoning of O`oma” postcards signed and delivered to the County Council, please call Janice at 324-0093, or e-mail Karen: karen@kohanaiki.net.
  • Letters to the editor of all three local papers (West Hawaii Today, Hawaii Tribune Herald, Hawaii Island Journal) are of tremendous benefit and let “the powers that be” know that West Hawai`i residents aren’t gonna let this one slip past them.
  • Spread our e-mail/telephone alerts to anyone who you think would be interested in this effort (and let us know if you aren’t on our e-mail list). Let’s go for a crowd of 600 people at the next hearing!
  • Let Councilmen Curtis Taylor and Bob Jacobson know that you appreciate their efforts in helping residents thwart this project. Councilman Reynolds, though he voted in favor of the rezoning in Committee, has said he will vote “no” when/if it comes up in the full council hearing. You might want to call him and let him know you’ll be holding him to his word (to vote against Cliftos’ plan) and that you appreciate his change of heart in supporting protection of this coastal property.

It is critical that residents remain united and vigilant and ready to “tell it like it is” at the next hearing regarding the fate of O`oma.

By Phil Barnes

Some of you may be wondering what happened to me, as I didn’t run for the board this year. Beginning in April, I will be spending six months hiking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, something that I have wanted to do since I was in my 20s. We are in the midst of all of the pre-trip planning. It will not be a really hard-core trip, as we will be sleeping in a motel at least once a week, eating restaurant meals and resupplying.

Our plan is to start on the Tennessee-Virginia border and hike north to Maine. Once we reach the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin, my brother will meet us and give us a ride back to our starting point. My wife, Diane, will join us there, and we will hike south to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the trail. This is called a flip-flop--large crowds starting from the south in March and April are avoided, and no worry about getting to Maine before the mountain gets snowed in. I would like to make my hike a fund-raiser for Moku Loa Group—asking for pledges for each mile completed.

This will give me an added incentive to get out of my sleeping bag in the morning when it is raining. One cent/mile would total about $21.00 for the entire hike. I will not collect if I don’t hike at least halfway. I will set up a separate e-mail address while I am on the trail, and will be sending out updates to all who are interested. If you would like to sponsor me, send an e-mail to greenhi@interpac.net, or call me at 965-9695. Thanks

Posted December 1, 2003


By Deborah Ward and Nelson Ho

After more than a year of court battles, NASA officials announced November 5th that they will begin work next month on an environmental impact statement for the outrigger telescope project at the W. M. Keck Observatory.

The announcement was made jointly with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which had challenged a less-comprehensive NASA environmental assessment in federal court.

Officials estimated that the study could cost as much as $1 million. No comprehensive federal impact statement has ever been prepared for Mauna Kea to assess the overall cultural and environmental impacts of astronomy on Mauna Kea; and critics of the industrial development on the mountain say one is long overdue.

The EIS process will begin with public meetings in December and January. NASA aims to complete a draft statement in late May or early June and to finish the final document by fall.

* * *
There is still a critical need for a UH COMPREHENSIVE MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE WHOLE SUMMIT. It would also need to be approved by the BLNR. Sierra Club does not accept the flawed 2000 UH Master Plan, which had regurgitated data from 1985, and contained no cumulative impact study of thirty years of industrial development on the summit.
* * *

Sierra Club and Hawaiian petitioners have repeatedly pointed out the specific deficiencies in the UH documents, proposed artificial habitat plans and piecemeal mitigation measures, which lack funding and oversight. No management is intended by Keck after the facility is built. So as soon as construction ends, the monitoring ends. There is no funding promised for anything beyond the short term.
Sierra Club has pointed out that if the data is not monitored and analyzed, the University of Hawai`i could lose a species at risk, such as the wekiu bug, and miss the early fix opportunities.

* * *
As if nothing has happened, UH IfA and NASA, the National Science Foundation, Caltech, the University of California and the Smithsonian Institution are still beating the drum to build more telescopes on Mauna Kea.

The latest proposal is to locate the largest telescope in history on Mauna Kea. Its 98-foot mirror would have ten times the light-gathering ability of the twin 33-foot telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which are now the two largest optical/infrared telescopes in the world.
UH Institute for Astronomy has estimated that it would cost $700 million to build and $1 billion to operate over twenty years. It is estimated the telescope could be operational by 2012.
The UH Board of Regents’ 2000 Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan designated an approximate site for a “Next Generation Large Telescope” in the northern plateau area of Mauna Kea on a 36-acre site off the summit ridge. However, the master plan never won BLNR approval, and the only properly approved plan limits development to thirteen facilities. More major observatories are on Mauna Kea than on any other peak.


By Janice Palma-Glennie

After a long day (and night) at the November 7th Planning Commission hearing in Kona, three issues, which the Sierra Club and community have been tracking for years, were heard:


An SMA permit to allow a 400-unit commercial/hotel development on approximately eighty acres drew a 3-3 vote, the second time in a row a decisive 5-vote quorum was lacking for permit denial or approval (County Council rezoning decision pending). Sierra Club testified that this project is untimely and unwarranted, with too many unanswered issues, including infrastructure, view plane, degradation of near shore waters, public access, and future recreational use of the parcel, especially since the property is up for sale.


For a decade, Sierra Club has had direct input into the park’s planning. However, doubts remain about whether the designed 30 parking stalls (with later accommodation for 20 spaces) and arbitrary hours of park operation adequately address public access. Instead, does limited public access to this northern section of the park provide thousands of adjacent, private residences more exclusive use of public land, as has been seen at Hapuna Beach? Private, commercial use (i.e., filmmaking) of this designed “noncommercial, wilderness” park continues. Glen Taguchi (head of Hawai`i Island’s State Parks) assured planners that problems raised by the Sierra Club and others would be addressed. The SMA permit as presented, however, was granted without changes.


After fourteen years of community activism and a Supreme Court ruling to protect the right of native Hawaiians to access developed land and the planning process itself, Kohanaiki – the center of those decisions – will be transformed by a California developer. An SMA permit was granted for a 500-home luxury subdivision with approximately forty acres to be set aside as a public park. Sixty additional acres are being touted as “public domain.” That land will be deeded to the County. However, in a somewhat convoluted, no-fee lease agreement, that acreage will be developed as a private golf course (with only one day per week of public play).
We are gratified that a unique 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 management agreement (owner/county/public) was agreed upon to guide park design and future use; as Nansay’s plans for the property in 1990 were significantly worse. But doubts still linger over real gains made by a community that has been so committed, for so long, to protect the area’s natural and cultural assets.

THE LONGEST DAY. As to our current planning hearing process, one has to wonder if expecting planners to make clear decisions on critical issues after sitting in a hearing for more than eight hours in one day is the best (and fairest) way to handle a burgeoning amount of rezoning and SMA requests. When planners are complaining at 5:00 pm that they are too tired to think, yet go on to hear requests until 10:00 pm, it seems inevitable that both planners and the communities they are meant to serve and protect are doomed to suffer.


By Jan Moon

In October forums were held in Kona and Hilo on the impact of more cruise ships in Hawai`i. The Hilo panel consisted of the harbor master, a Norwegian Cruise Line VP, an economist from UH-Hilo, and representatives of the Sierra Club, the County, and the Hawai`i Tourism Authority. Opportunities were given for public testimony and a question-and-answer period. At that meeting, the harbor master said, “The cruise ships are coming whether we like it or not.”

Arrivals will increase 600% by 2006. Concerns were raised about: 1) Impacts on our local infrastructure, harbors and parks. Who will pay for improvements? 2) What the cruise ships do with their trash, sewage and bilge water, etc. There are no regulations or regular monitoring of these discharges of waste. 3) Fumes and exhaust emissions are severe and control is lacking while ships are docked in the harbors. 4) Permits must be issued to help enforce regulations. 5) A berth tax or a tourist tax should be levied on each passenger to pay for monitoring and necessary improvements to each port and community affected, specifically.
The Sierra Club testified that sensible legislation should be adopted to cover these concerns; and the cruise ship VP said, “we can live with legislation.” The County has agreed to hold more public information forums on these issues.

By Cory Harden

The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed 23,000-acre Pohakuloa expansion details severe impacts for people, endangered species, coastal waters, cultural resources, and agricultural lands from construction, hazardous materials, erosion, dust, fire and noise. But protecting the environment has become risky.

Seven people were arrested at two EIS hearings in Honolulu . . . for carrying signs. The Waikoloa Marriott tried to ban “public displays of protest” at the hearing there. Police called a Hilo activist to ask if he planned to be arrested at the hearings. The private venues meant that people could be ejected at the word of the property owner, with private security guards to back up police.

These actions follow announcements by Congresspersons (months before the draft EIS came out) that Hawai`i would get a Stryker brigade: an abruptly canceled citizen tour of Pohakuloa; several closed-door expansion meetings; and failure to provide a disability accommodation for the Hilo hearing.

Pieces of the Pohakuloa section of the EIS are incomplete, so the public cannot evaluate them: the Environmental Noise Management Program, an agreement about cultural and historic sites, an evaluation of historic structures and a farmland determination. Four sections on airspace and noise are missing.

The EIS process has run so far off track that there are calls for the Army to redo the entire round of EIS hearings. Consider supporting this initiative. We need to protect the environment . . . and our right to do so.

The EIS is at public libraries and online at www.sbcteis.com. Comments will be taken until January 3, 2004.

Posted September 1, 2003

By Janice Palma-Glennie

Lots of suggestions are floating around abut the future of 350 acres of state land next to Honokohau Harbor at Kealakehe in West Hawai`i. One of the most questionable (sounding straight out of the environmental Dark Ages) is a plan to dynamite millions of cubic feet of coastline to create an onshore, deep water cruise ship harbor big enough to accommodate the tie-up and turn-around of three modern cruise ships holding up to three thousand passengers each.

Threats to fishing, diving, surfing, local manta ray aggregates and air quality are just some of the potentially devastating short- and long-term spin-offs of this immense project. Are residents willing to mutate the shape and quality of the land and seas for an industry that’s largely unregulated and environmentally mischievous, and not forced to comply with local water quality rules?

DLNR chief, Peter Young, has heard the comments of West Hawai`i residents who attended a recent public meeting held in August to discuss Kealakehe development plans. Even though the official comment deadline was August 8, Sierra Club members who haven’t already done so might want to give their mana`o on this fusty scheme before a decision is made. E-mail Keith Cung at dlnr@hawaii.gov, or fax him at (808) 587-0455.

Posted June 1, 2003

By Cory Harden

The Army can’t clean up deadly debris left sixty years ago, but it can start moving – before the draft Environmental Impact Statement comes out – on the largest Army construction project in Hawai`i since WWII.

Senator Daniel Inouye and Representative Neil Abercrombie report they have been assured that Hawai`I will get a Stryker Brigade, part of Army Transformation. Construction and research money for Transformation is already in the military budget. On Hawai`i Island, the Army plans to move fire and emergency service from Kilauea Military Camp to Pohakuloa Training Area because of Transformation.
Meanwhile, nosy citizens are kept away. The public was excluded from two private meetings about Transformation in Hilo in May 2002 and July 2003. And in September 2002, the Army cancelled a tour of Pohakuloa, citing “unacceptable people” it refused to name.

Hawai`i Island has over fifty old military sites, most containing hazards. Not one has been completely cleaned up. Unexploded ordnance was found at Waimea Middle School in 2002, Hilo Bay in 2000, Hapuna Beach in 1998, 1997 and 1995, South Point in 1994 and 1993 . . . and many more. Compounding the problem, Donaldson Enterprises, a private ordnance removal firm, promised to be “discreet” if it found unexploded ordnance on a client’s land. (1990 letter)

The Army wants 23,000 more acres on Hawai`i Island – despite a dismal environmental record. It failed to do proper environmental studies for a $30 million firing range in the 1980s, and left fires burning at Pohakuloa for days or weeks in the 1980s and 1990s. It secretly tested germ and nerve agents, herbicides and insecticides at Waiakea Forest Reserve and Saddle Road in the 1960s.

And the Army has not respected Hawaiian culture, in which Pohakuloa means “the veil that covers the spiritual realm.” Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are the male and female figures of the world. Pohakuloa, between them, is a holy place of union of male and female . . . not a place for pollution or destruction.

If you can help, or want more information, please contact me at mh@interpac.net, or 968-8965.

Posted June 1, 2003

By Nelson Ho

Sierra Club members Deborah Ward and Nelson Ho were hard at work consulting with Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Clarence Ching and Hank Fergerstrom to conclude the first contested case hearing regarding a Mauna Kea sited telescope. Conducted for several weeks before a representative of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the quasi-judicial process revealed UH misrepresentations about their Management Plan for the summit and the UH Institute for Astronomy’s attempt to sneak in the flawed 2000 Master Plan for the summit without public hearings.

The testimonies of Dr. Frank Howarth and Dr. Fred Stone, noted wekiu bug researchers, showed that UH-IFA’s proposed mitigation plan for the small insect, a candidate endangered species, was untested, based on incorrect assumptions and potentially harmful. Instead of mitigating harm done by the University of California, Cal-Tech and NASA back a plan to create replacement habitat which may create a “death trap” that will actually harm the species.

Hawaiian testimonies revealed a history of UH-IFA’s management actions that resulted in Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices that were marginalized or ignored, and that, even under the 2000 Master Plan (which BLNR has not approved), Native Hawaiian practices were threatened.

Also revealed was the fact that the environmental assessment (EA) relied upon by the UH-IFA was inadequate. It failed to adequately assess the cultural impacts of the Keck 6 Telescope Project and did not address or discuss significant cumulative impacts. That fact highlighted the UH continued resistance to overwhelming calls by the public (including the new Office of Mauna Kea Management) for the production of the first federal environmental impact statement for a summit astronomical project. For further information, contact Nelson Ho or a member of the Conservation Committee.

Posted March 1, 2003

Pilot Recycle And Re-Use Center
At Kea`Au Transfer Station

March 2 is the slated opening date of a community facility that will divert much of the recyclables and reusable items that are now taken to the Kea`au Transfer station. This municipal waste is part of 200 tons of refuse that are being buried at the Hilo Landfill each day.

Sierra Club volunteers and other participating organizations are sought to strengthen this demonstration project. Recycle Hawai`i will operate the site and will soon post a list of what will be handled at the Recycling and Re-use Center. The coordinator for this pilot project is club member Nelson Ho. Visit www.recyclehawaii.org or call the info hotline at 961-2676 for details.


The Sierra Club’s Moku Loa Group recently recognized seven outstanding students for research on Hawai`i’s environment at the Hawai`i District Science and Engineering Fair held Saturday, February 15 in Hilo.

In the Junior Research Division, Vincent Sanekane of Pahoa High and Intermediate School was recognized with the Wayne Gagne Award, presented each year to the outstanding junior research project relating to the environment of Hawai`i. His project was entitled, “Vacationland Coral Bleaching…Ten Years Later.”

In the Senior Research Division, Malielani Larish of Waikea High School and Brandon Estrella of St. Joseph Jr.-Sr. High School each received the Mae Mull Award for their research projects entitled, “The ‘Beer’ Trees: Slime Flux on Acacia Koa,” and “Comparison of Endophytic Microfungi from Selected Native Hawaiian Ohia Leaves,” respectively.

In the Senior Research in Physical Science Division, Travis N. Tomlinson of Kea`au High School received the Don Worsencroft Award for his project, “Accelerating Particles with a Home-built Cyclotron.”

In the Junior Display Division, Kamie S. Oda of Waiakea Intermediate School was recognized with the Ruth Lani Stemmermann Award for the display entitled “Fire and Ice: Glacial Evidence on Mauna Kea.”

Moku Loa Group also presented two additional awards for Earth Science relating to Hawai`i. The recipients were Kelsey M. Wilburn of Waiakea Intermediate School for the display entitled, “Mauna Loa: Are We in Danger?” and Joel S. Gollaher of Hawai`I Preparatory Academy for “Surf Cam.”

The students each received certificates and checks for $25.00. Through these awards, Moku Loa Group hopes to honor scientists active in protecting our native habitats., and to encourage students to pursue scientific research in topics related to the Hawaiian environment.

Moku Loa Group welcomes contributions to its memorial fund to support the Science Fair and other educational programs for students. Tax deductible donations may be made to Sierra Club Foundation (MLG) and mailed to the club c/o Moku Loa Group, PO Box 1137, Hilo, HI 96721. For more information contact Roberta Brashear @ 966-7002.

Posted October 1, 2002

Past Chair Person's Report
By Phil Barnes

As you are probably aware, the Army base at Pohakuloa has plans for a major expansion on the Waimea side of their Saddle Road base. The club is taking an active look at the environmental ramifications of the acquisition of this additional land. While the area being acquired has been leased previously, the impacts will undoubtedly be increased once the land comes under permanent military control. One of our major concerns is that the base should focus on cleaning up and habitat restoration on their present land before they occupy even more of our aina.

Hopefully, you were able to attend our June 1st Birthday Gala at Nani Mau Gardens. We had beautiful weather for our 26th birthday celebration. We were entertained by Chino & Kahele, the Hilobillies bluegrass band, and the Seawater Band, with Roberta joining in on some vocals. A wide variety of silent auction items were donated by local artists and businesses, and the bidding was brisk right up to closing. Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of Hawai'i Chapter, gave an excellent power point presentation that brought us up to speed on statewide issues. We presented awards to past group chairs and activists who were in attendance. I would like to give special thanks to the members of the Gala Committee for putting together this event: Ed Clark, Roberta Brashear, Phil Barnes, Sarah Moon and Juliet Mondale. Juliet, a new member who relocated from Washington State with her husband Ken, did an excellent job of coordinating the event. We look forward to her help in future fundraising activities. Again, thanks to all the band members and folks who donated items to our silent auction. We cleared almost $6,000 from the event, which will go a long way toward helping us protect this special island that we call home.

Our group will be a co-sponsor of the `Language of the Land' tour, which will be held on the Big Island October 4-6. The mission of the tour is to inspire participants, through shared environmental and cultural experiences, reading, workshops and discussions to forge an ongoing community dedicated to preserving the land of Hawai'i for future generations. Sponsors include the Orion Society, Pacific Writers Connection and the Hawai'i Island Writers Association. Call Alice Moon at 933-9772 for further information.

By Phil Barnes

The Moku Loa Group is again involved in the process of endorsing candidates for the upcoming primary and general elections. The process has included candidate questionnaires on club issues and candidate interviews. After the basic information was gathered, the candidates had to be approved by a 2/3 vote of two different club committees. Our executive committee made recommendations to the Chapter executive committee, which voted to endorse the following candidates:

Hawai'i County Council - District 1 - Reynolds Kamakawiwoole
District 5 - Gary Safarik
District 6 - Bob Jacobson
District 7 - Jeff Turner
District 8 - Curtis Tyler
State House of Representatives - District 4 - Helene Hale
District 5 - Jack Kelly
State Senate - District 1 - Lorraine Inouye
District 2 - Russell Kokubun
District 3 - Virginia Isbell
Governor - Ed Case
U. S. House of Representatives - Patsy Mink

We urge all of our members to actively assist these pro-environment candidates with their campaigns. With the low voter turnout that is often the case in Hawai'i, your vote carries a great deal of weight. So please vote in both the primary and general elections and urge your friends and neighbors to vote.

SIERRA CLUB - Moku Loa Group
P.O. Box 1137, Hilo, HI 96721-1137
Phone: 808-965-9695