POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 12, 2009
Hawaii and Maui counties have been designated primary natural disaster areas because of losses caused by drought this year, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials announced.
"President Obama and I understand these conditions caused severe damage to these areas and serious harm to farms in Hawaii, and we want to help," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This action will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses to warm season grasses."
Some parts of Hawaii had a lot of rain the past month, but it fell mainly in places that do not have serious drought conditions, says Kevin Kodama, senior service hydrologist at the Honolulu Forecast Office.
DROUGHT IN THE ISLANDS
» Extreme drought: South Kohala
» Severe drought: Kau, North and South Kona
» Moderate drought: Lower Kona slopes (Honaunau to Kalaoa)
» Severe drought: Central and West Maui, West Molokai
» Moderate drought: East Molokai, Lanai
Source: National Weather Service
Portions of the Big Island did not receive much rain, and they are still hurting from drought, said the National Weather Service meteorologist.
Hawaii’s wet season is from October through April, but Kodama and Jim Weyman, meteorologist-in-charge of the Honolulu Forecast Office, said in October it would be drier-than-normal from mid-December through April because of El Nino conditions.
An El Nino is a weather phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific with unusually warm sea surface temperatures that affect climate worldwide.
The Big Island’s South Kohala district had the sixth consecutive month of extreme drought in November, Kodama said. Some improvement occurred with rain in the early part of the month — from extreme drought to severe drought, he said.
Then it got windy, and farm agents said the winds "dried things out quick," Kodama said.
That window of opportunity to pull out of the drought is closing, he said.
Climate models have been pretty consistent in predicting drier-than-nomal conditions through the spring, Kodama said.
A national panel criticizes the USDA’s scientific research on the light brown apple moth but affirms the agency’s power to start another round of aerial spraying.
As expected, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences said on Monday that the government has the legal authority to embark on a massive new eradication effort against the light brown apple moth, thereby opening the door for another round of aerial pesticide spraying. But the panel also criticized the United States Department of Agriculture for engaging in shoddy science to substantiate its war on the moth.
The 21-page report came in response to petitions submitted by opponents of the government’s extermination plans. They had asked the USDA to reclassify the light brown apple moth from being a major pest to one that could be easily controlled by farmers. Such a move would have prohibited aerial spraying or other major eradication efforts that the government is now planning.
Opponents believe the USDA and state officials have severely overstated the threats posed by the moth, and have noted that it has lived for more than one hundred years in Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii without causing serious, sustained damage to crops or native plants and trees. The USDA, nonetheless, believes the moth will destroy large swaths of cropland throughout California and much of the southern United States. The agency also considers it a serious threat to native redwood and pine forests.
Here is Hawaii’s piece of the pie:
Wildland Fire Management – Forest Health (Multi-state)
- Alaska; California; Oregon; Washington; Hawaii – 1 project – $1,795,000
- California; Hawaii – 1 project – $2,190,000
Posted by Brian Allmer on September 9, 2009
78 projects in 20 States and the District of Columbia will receive a total of $89 million to address problems caused by fire, insects, invasive species and disease
WASHINGTON, September 9, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for forest health protection projects. These 78 projects will receive almost $89 million and are located on forested lands in 30 states. This funding will be used to restore forest health conditions on Federal, State, and private forest and rangelands recovering from fires, forest insects and disease outbreaks. These conditions weaken affected lands and threaten the benefits these lands provide, including clean water, clean air, habitat for wildlife, resistance to wildfire, and recreational opportunities for the public.
Recovery Act Funds Will Help Improve Infrastructure Across Rural America
Na Kupaa O Kuhio (Kakaina) – $541,000 direct loan and $377,800 grant
Na Kupaa O Kuhio (Piilani) – $471,000 direct loan and $339,000 grant
WASHINGTON, August, 25, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of $175.8 million in water and environmental projects that are being funded immediately through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The projects will help provide safe drinking water and improved wastewater treatment for rural communities in 27 states. To date, USDA has announced $1.47 billion for water and environmental project loans and grants through ARRA, benefiting communities throughout the country.
“The Recovery Act water and wastewater projects we are announcing today support the Obama administration’s goal of rebuilding and revitalizing the nation’s rural infrastructure,” Vilsack said. “This funding will provide reliable drinking water and sanitary waste disposal while creating and saving jobs in rural America.”