The National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing to list 66 coral species in the Pacific and Caribbean oceans as endangered or threatened.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a statement today the proposal is an important sensible step toward preserving the benefits provided by the species.
She says corals provide habitat that support fisheries, generate jobs through recreation and tourism, and protect coastlines.
The agency wants to list 59 species in the Pacific and seven in the Caribbean. It’s scheduled public meetings in 20 places including Hawaii, Guam, Florida and Puerto Rico.
The agency is acting to comply with a federal court order after it was sued by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2009.
Making life better for fish and wildlife and the people who hunt them lies at the heart of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012, the bill that covers everything from habitat conservation to transporting bows through national parks, which is likely to be approved by the Senate on Monday.
But though the bill enjoys broad, bipartisan support, some environmentalists are not happy with it. The bill ensures that lead can continue to be used in ammunition, which they say poisons some wildlife, and it specifically says that the Environmental Protection Agency cannot regulate components “used in shot, bullets and other projectiles,” such as bullets and fishing tackle.
The wording aimed at the EPA is so broad that opponents of the bill say it could block the agency from regulating, for example, perchlorate, a component of explosives and rocket fuel that has been linked to thyroid problems in children and pregnant women and has been found in drinking water in 35 states. Continue reading
The rooster had no takers.
A dozen or so pet seekers crowded the front counter at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter on a recent Saturday. A few feet away, a woman lingered in front of a photo of Felipe the rabbit. Over in the dog kennels, a little girl pointed out a puppy to her father.
But no one asked about Hanz, the orange and white rooster that was pecking at feed in an outdoor kennel in the back. He didn’t even have a name card on his cage. And unlike the schnauzer inside, he had no sign that read, “Adopt me! I’m cute!”
Animal Control picked Hanz up in mid-October on Wild Cherry Lane in Germantown after some homeowners found him in their yard, according to Paul Hibler, deputy director of the county police’s Animal Services Division.
The question of what to do with Hanz — and other roosters like him — is an unforeseen byproduct of the growth of backyard chicken flocks, which proponents are touting as a more-nutritious and humane source of eggs. Continue reading
Gov. Neil Abercrombie is asking the Public Land Development Corp. to put off any action on pending rules while the state fully considers and addresses public concerns about the agency.
The governor said in a statement today he’s asked the organization’s board to postpone any meetings until the concerns are considered.
Critics say the law creating the agency — passed last year — allows land to be developed without zoning rules or other restrictions.
The governor says he doesn’t want the potential for the corporation to accomplish public good to be lost because the state failed to account for reservations.
Abercrombie says his administration will do its best to alleviate public concerns. But he says the Legislature created the agency and will be the ones to decide its future.
ALBANY, N.Y. » When Schuyler and Colby Gail were trying to get started in farming, they ran into an obstacle common to many fledgling farmers: Land was expensive and hard to find.
They turned to a local land conservancy, which matched them up with a landowner willing to sell at an affordable price. Now, they raise pigs, lambs and poultry on their farm in New Lebanon, 25 miles southeast of Albany near the Massachusetts border.
“We were able to come to a better financial agreement because the landowners were excited about what we were doing,” said Schuyler Gail, who launched Climbing Tree Farm a year ago with her husband, a carpenter. “It wouldn’t be the same if we bought land off the regular real estate market.”
To keep land in agricultural production and help a new generation start farming as older farmers near retirement, land conservancies and other farm preservation groups have launched a growing number of landowner-farmer matching programs like the one that helped the Gails.
About 25 states have FarmLink programs that match new farmers with landowners, and the programs vary in how involved they are in matches. For example, Connecticut has made only about a half dozen since it began in 2007 but staffers aren’t allowed to get involved in leases, spokeswoman Jane Slupecki said. The opposite is true in California, said Central Valley coordinator Liya Schwartzman. In Maine, the program has facilitated 82 matches since it started in 2002, a spokeswoman said.
More than 60 percent of farmers are over 55, and the fastest growing group of farmers and ranchers is those over 65, Census figures showed. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has set a goal of creating 100,000 new farmers within the next few years. Continue reading
Axis deer hunter feels unfairly targeted
By TOM CALLIS
Shortly before Christmas 2009, a helicopter carrying four axis deer — three alive, one dead — landed on a Ka‘u ranch.
Its cargo, brought in a metal crate from Maui, was unloaded and replaced with several mouflon sheep for the return trip.
With the duct tape around their legs removed, the surviving ungulates needed little coaching to exit.
Sensing freedom after the interisland flight, they bounded toward the safety and familiarity of the nearby brush.
For the men involved, that moment marked the start of a new food source for hunters on the Big Island, long frustrated by state efforts to slaughter animals considered harmful to native plants.
But for state and federal officials who would discover their presence in 2011, the prospect of an invasive species here proved concerning.
The south Asian deer, already well-established on Maui, Oahu, Lanai and Molokai after being first introduced in 1868, have frustrated ranchers and farmers for generations but have been prized by hunters.
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife investigation would later trace their Big Island introduction to a hunter from Mountain View, and a rancher and a pilot from Maui who arranged a sheep-for-deer swap between the two islands.
Eager to punish the act, yet unable to declare the deer introduction itself illegal, federal prosecutors successfully convicted the trio last month for possessing game animals without a permit and under the Lacey Act, which governs interstate commerce.
Each was fined and sentenced to community service helping battle invasive species or educate hunters. Continue reading
MALP Educational Meeting—Free to the public
Topic: Poinsettias with Ann Emmsley
Date: Tuesday November 27, 2012
Place:: Maui Community Service Bldg next to CTHAR Extension Services (Map) on the UH Maui campus.
Time: Pupus will be served at 6:30 pm and the talk will begin at 7:00.
Poinsettias have become a festive symbol for the holidays as a table centerpiece, a hostess gift, or, in tropical climates like Hawaii, a landscape statement. Ann will cover the history of poinsettias from their discovery to the traits of modern poinsettias. She will discuss the tried and true varieties and explore the array of new cultivars becoming available. Growing tips will be offered for all settings from potted plants to landscape use. She will give tips on the best methods for propagation, fertilization, irrigation, pruning, pest control and growth regulation.
Ann Emmsley has been working at the University of Hawaii, Maui College since 1988. She is currently a Professor and Program Coordinator for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Program. She teaches a variety of courses including landscaping, horticulture, crop production, pest management, and irrigation. Ann has been growing poinsettias for the annual poinsettia sale at the Maui campus for over 15 years.
There will be a raffle for several poinsettia plants at the end of the meeting. Each attendee will receive one free ticket. Additional tickets may be purchased for $1 each.
Hilo-based macadamia nut producer Royal Hawaiian Orchards L.P. pocketed more income in the third quarter as the company formerly known as ML Macadamia Orchards L.P. geared up to launch retail sales of flavored nuts in snack packages.
The company on Wednesday reported earning $296,000 in the three-month period ended Sept. 30, up from $38,000 in the same quarter last year.
The gain was mainly from nut prices that were 14 percent higher. Nut production was down 10 percent.
Total revenue rose 5 percent to $6.3 million in the recent quarter from $6 million a year ago.
Royal Hawaiian began selling 12 varieties of flavored nuts and fruit-and-nut clusters last week. Revenue from the new endeavor will start to show up in the company’s fourth-quarter financial report. The company reported spending $147,000 on the retail effort in the third quarter.
The retail endeavor represents a shift for Royal Hawaiian, which historically sold all its nuts in bulk to Hershey Co.’s Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp.
Royal Hawaiian plans to retain one-third of its nuts next year to use for packaged food sales through subsidiary Royal Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Inc. and perhaps some bulk sales.
Ongoing drought conditions on Maui have prompted the county to adjust potable water production in the Upcountry area, the Maui Department of Water Supply said Friday.
On or about Wednesday, the department will reduce production at the Olinda Water Treatment Facility to 0.1 million gallons per day from 1.8 mgd to give Upper Kula reservoirs time to be refilled by rain.
The 30-million-gallon Waikamoi Reservoir is empty and the 100-million-gallon Kahakapao Reservoir is at 39.5 million gallons, the department said.
In the meantime, Upper Kula customers will get water from the Kamole water treatment facility in Haliimaile, the Piiholo treatment facility in Makawao and the Po‘okela well in Makawao.
Upper Kula customers may notice a change in water quality because the water from the lower elevations is disinfected with chlorine. The water meets all federal and state water quality standards.