NPS releases short film on endangered Hawaiian honeycreepers

Maui News –

The National Park Service has released a new short film called “Drawing Connections: Haleakala National Park,” which sheds light on how climate change is impacting the park’s most critically endangered species, Hawaiian honeycreepers.

With only 17 species remaining, some with fewer than 500 individuals left, honeycreepers are a unique group of forest birds found only in Hawaii that once encompassed more than 50 species.

The National Park Service said in a news release that avian malaria, a disease transmitted by invasive Culex mosquitoes, is driving the extinction of forest birds in Hawaii; a single bite by an infected mosquito can kill an ‘i’iwi.

“It is becoming very clear that the changing climate patterns are now allowing disease-carrying mosquitoes to reach our native forest birds at the highest elevations that they occur,” said Chris Warren, forest bird biologist at Haleakala National Park. “This is no longer a matter of disease simply limiting the range of these birds.”

As the climate warms, mosquitoes carrying avian malaria are moving upslope into the last refugia for Hawaii’s forest birds.

“We are on the brink of losing a number of species in the next few years as a direct result of changing temperature and precipitation patterns,” Warren said. “If we cannot control avian malaria and its mosquito vector, we will lose these species, and my heart breaks to say that.”

To watch the film and learn more about climate change and forest birds, visit www.nps .gov/hale/learn/nature/saving-our-forest-birds.htm.

To learn more about climate change impacts in national parks, visit www.nps.gov/subjects/climatechange/index.htm.

USAJOBS Daily Saved Search Results for Agriculture jobs for 3/11/2021

Program Support Assistant
Department: Department of Agriculture –
Agency: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service –
Number of Job Opportunities & Location(s): Many vacancies – Multiple Locations –
Salary: $36,363.00 to $50,224.00 / PA
Series and Grade: GS-0303-5
Open Period: 2021-03-11 to 2021-03-17
Position Information: Permanent – Full-Time
Who May Apply: Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL), Open to the public

Some jobs listed here may no longer be available-the job may have been canceled or may have closed. Click the link for each job to see the full job announcement.

Nonprofit moves forward with lawsuit to protect Hawaiian honeycreeper

Star Advertiser
By Nina Wu –

The Center for Biological Diversity today filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to designate critical habitat and develop a recovery plan for the iiwi, a cherished forest bird in Hawaii.

The move comes five months after the national nonprofit filed a formal notice of intent to sue due to lack of progress. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for Hawaii.

“The beautiful iiwi needs our help and it needs it now,” said Maxx Phillips, the center’s Hawaii director and staff attorney, in a news release. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s foot-dragging is unacceptable. Without the protections provided by critical habitat and a valid recovery plan, iiwi will continue down a heartbreaking path towards extinction.”

Iiwi, or Drepani coccinea, are medium-sized honeycreepers with bright, red plumage, black wings and distinctive, curved bills used to drink nectar.

The iiwi was listed in 2017 as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act due to extensive threats from mosquito-borne diseases such as avian malaria, as well as loss of habitat due to rapid ohia death and climate change.

Once abundant across the state — from the coastal lowlands where they foraged for food to the high mountain forests where they nested — the iiwi today can only be found in a narrow band of forest on East Maui, and elevated windward slopes of Hawaii island, and on Kauai.

They are now gone from the islands of Lanai, Oahu, Molokai and West Maui, the center said, and the Kauai population is likely to go extinct within 30 years.

Under the act, the agency is required to designate critical habitat with its listing determination and develop a recovery plan for the bird — but has failed to do so, according to the suit.

Phillips said there are measures the USFWS could take right now — including the restoration of upland forests at higher elevations, fencing off of potential breeding areas, and eradication of ungulates such as pigs, which create breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The USFWS, in a December letter to Phillips after receiving the notice of intent to sue, said development of a recovery plan for iiwi is underway under the leadership of its Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, and that a draft should be available for public review in the Federal Register by October.

The USFWS said, however, that it could not offer a timeframe for designating a critical habitat for iiwi due to its “national workload within the limited budget Congress has set.” The agency already has a 5-year National Listing Workplan for 12-month petition findings and status reviews, and will need to prioritize its workload.

Among those priorities, the agency said, are the designation of critical habitat for 14 Hawaiian species, including the picture-wing fly, by Feb. 28, 2023 as a result of a settlement with the center following an earlier lawsuit.

The center says Hawaiian forest birds are in crisis, with 68% of Hawaii’s known endemic bird species have already gone extinct because of habitat loss, disease and invasive predators.

“The longer that the service drags their feet, the closer these species come to a tipping point of going extinct,” said Phillips. “Time is of the essence. Any delay is really inexcusable.”

Rare Native Succulent Test – We Will be Giving Away Free Peperomia Mauiensis Plants


Please help us test a very rare native succulent as an indoor plant. We will be giving away free Peperomia mauiensis plants on Saturday, December 12, 2020 from 9-11 am at the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and following up with a survey. Plants and survey will be given on a first-come-first-serve basis. Please line up at the entrance to the Gardens and follow COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks and staying 6 ft apart. Aside from filling out an initial survey, we also request respondents to complete a follow-up survey 6 months after receiving the plant. We look forward to your participation. Mahalo! #peperomiamauiensis #consumersurvey #maui

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Thanks,
Hannah Lutgen

Junior Extension Agent, Landscape and Floriculture
University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources (CTAHR)
Maui Cooperative Extension
310 Kaahumanu Ave, Blg 214
Kahului, HI 96732
(808)-244-3242 ext.233
hannahcl@hawaii.edu

State gets $1.8M grant to boost Molokai forest protection

Maui News

Funding will help with fencing and removal of hooved animals as well as creating firebreaks

Forests on the southern slopes of Molokai are about to receive additional protections from threats like wildfires, erosion and flooding thanks to a $1.8 million award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Friday.

The funding will go toward proven tools such as fencing and removal of hooved animals, as well as creating firebreaks, which will lead to clearer ocean waters, vibrant reefs, restored plants and trees and fewer disruptions along the island’s main road that stretches from Kaunakakai to the east end, DLNR said.

“We are excited to support DLNR’s work to restore native forests, which will help to reduce risks of flooding, landslides and fire to communities on Molokai and will lead to healthier habitat for native species,” Erika Feller, director of Coastal and Marine Conservation for the foundation, said in a news release.

State Sen. J. Kalani English, who represents East Maui, Molokai and Lanai, said that watershed capital improvement project funds authorized by the state provided most of the match needed to apply for the grant. The larger Watershed Initiative is directing an additional $2 million of state CIP and operating funds to protect Molokai’s forests and employ Molokai residents.

“I’m delighted that this state funding has been able to attract more federal and private funding that will create more jobs on Molokai while helping preserve our forests and reefs,” said state Rep. Lynn DeCoite, who also represents East Maui, Molokai and Lanai.

Some federal and foundation funds are available only when a matching investment can be demonstrated, the news release explained. Since 2013, State Watershed Initiative funds have brought in more than $36 million in federal, county and private funds for forest protection projects statewide.

Molokai’s remaining native forests play a crucial role in the island’s ecosystem by holding soil and absorbing rainwater. Funding helps state agencies and nonprofits to continue to protect the forests and restore areas converted to bare dirt by wildfires and hooved animals. The East Moloka’i Watershed Partnership, led by The Nature Conservancy, involves DLNR and other agencies, landowners and community organizations working to develop a landscape-level management plan to address problems across the south slope, where dirt washes down to the ocean and clogs fishponds, kills corals that need sunlight to grow and feeds invasive algae that smothers the reef.

“The ‘olelo no’eau (Hawaiian proverb) ‘Ina e lepo ke kumu wai, e ho’ea ana ka lepo ikai’ means ‘If the source of the water is dirty, muddy water will travel to the sea,’ “ said Ulalia Woodside, director of The Nature Conservancy, Hawai’i chapter. “By restoring forests, we counter that possibility and provide jobs that allow the people of Molokai to give back to the nature that sustains them.”

County officials also expressed support for funding and emphasized the importance of protecting the island’s forests.

“Each budget session, our Maui County Council allocates significantly to forest watershed protection efforts countywide, and being from Molokai, where subsistence is our way of life, funding resource management is highly prioritized,” said Council Vice-Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, who also serves as the Economic Development and Budget Committee chair.”

Stacy Crivello, Molokai community liaison for Mayor Michael Victorino, added that “Molokai depends on our natural resources to sustain our lifestyle.

“Protecting our watershed and restoring our forests protect our reefs,” Crivello said. “Taking care of mauka takes care of makai.”

Arbor Day expo culminates with drive-thru tree giveaway

The Maui News
In partnership with Hawaiian Electric and Kaulunani Urban and Community Forestry Program, Maui Nui Botanical Gardens and the Maui Association of Landscape Professionals will host an extended and virtual Arbor Day Garden Expo from Wednesday to Friday, culminating in an Island wide Nursery Open House and Drive-Thru Tree Giveaway from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 7 at the War Memorial Gymnasium parking lot in Wailuku.

This year’s event will feature online lectures, presentations and webinars from certified arborists, landscaping professionals and local conservations organizations. Topics include everything from proper tree planting and care to seed starting and storage for native plants.

The annual 1,000 Hawaiian Tree Giveaway will be a socially-distanced, drive-thru event. Residents are asked to reserve their trees at arbordayexpo.com.

Trees are limited to one per email address and must be reserved online. To reduce traffic on Nov. 7, reservations are in one-hour increments and residents are asked to enter the event by turning right from Kanaloa Avenue onto Halia Nakoa Street. Left turns will not be permitted.

Feds to air-drop toxic mice onto Guam jungles

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam » Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam’s jungle canopy. They are scientists’ prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.

Most of Guam’s native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island’s thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.

More than 3,000 miles away, Hawaii environmental officials have long feared a similar invasion — which in their case likely would be a “snakes on a plane” scenario. That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam’s air-drop strategy succeeds.

“We are taking this to a new phase,” said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam, and the Pacific Islands. “There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam.”

Brown tree snakes are generally a few feet long but can grow to be more than 10 feet in length. Most of Guam’s native birds were defenseless against the nocturnal, tree-based predators, and within a few decades of the reptile’s arrival, nearly all of them were wiped out.

The snakes can also climb power poles and wires, causing blackouts, or slither into homes and bite people, including babies; they use venom on their prey but it is not lethal to humans.

The infestation and the toll it has taken on native wildlife have tarnished Guam’s image as a tourism haven, though the snakes are rarely seen outside their jungle habitat.

The solution to this headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol.

The strategy takes advantage of the snake’s two big weaknesses. Unlike most snakes, brown tree snakes are happy to eat prey they didn’t kill themselves, and they are highly vulnerable to acetaminophen, which is harmless to humans.

The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam’s sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage and if compromised would offer the snakes a potential ticket off the island. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.

U.S. government scientists have been perfecting the mice-drop strategy for more than a decade with support from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.

To keep the mice bait from dropping all the way to the ground, where it could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest foliage, where the snakes live and feed.

Experts say the impact on other species will be minimal, particularly since the snakes have themselves wiped out the birds that might have been most at risk.

Monsanto Fund Donates $20,000 for Molokai Watershed Protection

Monsanto Fund Donates $20,000 for Molokai Watershed Protection

Monsanto Molokai News Release

The Monsanto Fund awarded a $20,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of Hawaii for watershed protection at Kamakou Preserve on Molokai. Since 2006, the Monsanto Fund has contributed a total of $130,000 to TNC’s protection and restoration efforts of critical watershed and fragile ecosystems on Molokai.

Located high in the mountains of East Molokai, the 2,774-acre Kamakou Preserve is a rainforest like no other on the planet. This magnificent natural treasure not only shelters hundreds of native plants and animals, but also serves as an important source of water for the island and its people.

TNC’s work at Kamakou Preserve, in collaboration with the public and private landowners of the East Molokai Watershed Partnership, is focused on invasive animal and weed control.

“Molokai’s forested watersheds today are under constant assault from established and new invasive species,” said Ed Misaki, TNC’s Molokai Program Director. “Feral ungulates (hoofed animals) like wild pigs, goats and deer are steadily eroding fragile topsoil. Once this soil disturbance occurs, invasive plants that did not evolve here, like blackberry and strawberry guava, steadily displace our native forests and watersheds. Once lost, they may be impossible to fully restore at any price.”

Feds want to add 15 Hawaii species to endangered list

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing protecting 13 Big Island plants, a picture-wing fly and a shrimp as endangered species.

The agency said Wednesday invasive plants, agriculture, urban development and feral animals like pigs, sheep and goats are threatening the plants and animals by destroying their habitat.

It’s accepting comments on the proposal through Dec. 17.

More than 400 species around Hawaii are already listed as endangered or threatened.

The agency says its proposal is part of a court-approved work plan to resolve a series of lawsuits over the agency’s listing of species.

The agency says the agreement aims to reduce work driven by lawsuits.

Feds want to add 15 Hawaii species to endangered list – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser