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Local Community Partnerships

The Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance (HCA) is a partnership of 21 government, education, and non-profit organizations. Its mission is to promote effective, long-term management of Hawai‘i’s native ecosystems through collaborative research, training, and outreach among land managers, scientists, educators, and the general public. The HCA sponsors the annual Hawai‘i Conservation Conference (HCC), which drew more than 1,000 participants in each of the past 4 years (the 2012 HCC celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the conference). The HCA was established in 1993 and PBRC has served as its administrative home since its establishment. PBRC faculty member Kenneth Kaneshiro has served as the Executive Chair of HCA since its inception.

The Exemplary State/Society Concept has been proposed by the Adjutant General Darryll Wong of the Hawai‘i National Guard and Civil Defense to enhance awareness within local and statewide communities, including first responders, the National Guard, Civil Defense, and civilians, of critical environmental parameters and weather conditions in order to enable science-based decision-making to mitigate severe flood events, enable effective disaster management, and protect public health. The plans include: 1) use of Intelesense Technologies developed by PBRC to deploy real-time flood, water and air quality, and infectious disease monitoring sensors and other situational awareness tools with integrated data from sensors, imagery, cameras, USGS stations, etc., and help plan, mitigate, or warn of impending flooding, VOG, contaminated water, disease, and other natural and man-made hazards; 2) coordinate with any agencies that can use information for awareness, real-time warning, life-saving, analyses, and historical data collection; 3) establish “Sustainable and Resilient Communities”; 4) integrate the technology into the K-12 curriculum; and 5) economic development and the capacity to manufacture these technologies in-state. As a result, communities will have access to important environmental and climatic data to assist in decision making regarding health, safety, work, and recreation, remotely and in real-time. It is anticipated that PBRC will play a significant role in this initiative. Intelesense Technologies, Inc. is a spin-off company (incorporated in Hawai‘i) resulting from research conducted by PBRC faculty and students as part of the Hawai‘i NSF EPSCoR project. PBRC will be integral to the deployment and operations of the environmental sensors required for the project. The PBRC team is also expected to play a major role in the establishment of sustainable and resilient communities and the integration of the technologies into the K-12 science curriculum.

The State Wildlife Sanctuary Program aims to restore habitat and provide protection to nesting sanctuaries as part of a comprehensive plan to aid in the recovery of all waterbird species but with special focus on the reproductive success of the ‘Alae 'Ula (Hawaiian Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus sandvicensis), ‘Alae Ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian Coot, Fulica alai), and Ae‘o (Hawaiian Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni), which are federally listed species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and Hawai‘i State Laws. The project is focused on managing State Wildlife Sanctuaries in wetlands on O‘ahu: Pouhala, Hāmākua, Kawainui Marsh, and Paikō Lagoon. The main objective is to implement wetland management techniques used by State Division of Fish and Wildlife staff to restore, enhance, protect, and maintain these wetland ecosystems. The program focuses on species and habitat monitoring to assess conditions and direct management practices aimed to mitigate problems. PBRC’s role has been to provide administrative support and to facilitate the activities of this important program. As part of the State Wildlife Sanctuary Program, PBRC also administers the Kure Atoll Ecological Research Field Station Project whose objective is to design and implement a comprehensive wildlife habitat restoration and natural resources education program that supports management actions needed to protect and maintain wildlife resources and ecosystem function at Kure Atoll State Seabird Sanctuary. This project provides support for the newly established Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and a broad group of organizations, agencies, and individuals engaged in research on Northwest Hawaiian Island ecosystems. The project is an ongoing effort for Kure Atoll that will facilitate habitat restoration, research, education, and facility development. PBRC currently administers the hiring and employment of 13 research and management staff members for the State Wildlife Sanctuary Program.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) represents Native Hawaiians on a variety of legal issues. PBRC faculty provided pro bono support in the form of research and testimony that was requested to protect harvesting areas used by Native Hawaiian limu fishers and homeless populations off of ‘Ewa Beach against a proposal by a developer to use the area for dumping additional storm water from an expanded area beyond their present permit. PBRC faculty testified before the Land Board on behalf of NHLC and the fishermen, and the decision went in favor of these plaintiffs. PBRC faculty members continue to support the NHLC on another project that threatens Native Hawaiian artisanal fishing activities.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society has worked with the faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and undergraduate students at PBRC to develop an ocean science training program for local students and in preparation for the upcoming around the world voyage of the voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a. An education grant was obtained by PBRC to purchase the equipment (microscope with photographic capabilities, plankton nets) and supplies that were required to support this effort.

Bioblitzes are intensive biodiversity surveys of selected areas that take place over 1-3 days. PBRC faculty have participated in bioblitzes organized by both the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources and by Punahou School in Honolulu, specifically to inventory the species of snails and slugs.

The State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture uses pro bono PBRC expertise to identify snails and slugs that are intercepted by Plant Quarantine officials entering the state on commercial and other shipments. Many of these species are potentially invasive in Hawai‘i and identifications by PBRC faculty and students allow Department of Agriculture officials to make informed decisions about whether to send back, treat, or destroy the shipment, or to permit entry into the State. In particular, in November and December of each year many requests for identifications are received resulting from interceptions of snails and slugs on shipments of Christmas trees from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. mainland.

The Waimānalo’s 21st Century Ahupua‘a is a partners hip among Sustain Hawai‘i, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate (KSBE), and PBRC. There are several components to this project in which the partners will participate in building a network of demonstration sites within the Waimānalo ahupua‘a that model 21st century solutions for watershed management, agriculture, waste disposal, energy, building, and economic development. The project will measure concrete ahupua‘a outcomes at multiple levels, capturing the true “triple bottom line” by using economic, ecological, and community metrics to calculate the actual net financial value of Waimānalo’s 21st Century ahupua‘a. This will include the gains/costs of ecosystem services and the impact of anthropological activities including impending climate change scenarios.

The State of Hawai‘i Nā Ala Hele Trail and Access Program was established in 1988 in response to public concern about the loss of public access to certain trails and the threat to historic trails from development pressure. Over time, Nā Ala Hele has become increasingly engaged in trail management and regulatory issues due to public safety, mixed use, resource degradation, and commercial recreational activities. The primary objective of this project is to provide public outreach, trail monitoring, and volunteer coordination, as well as to continue standard maintenance on each island’s public hiking trails, roads, and management areas in a manner consistent with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife’s (DoFAW) statewide trail and access program. PBRC’s role is to assist the Nā Ala Hele program with hiring and administering some of the field staff and to facilitate the activities of this program. Currently, there are 7 field staff employed by PBRC for this program.

The Hawai‘i Thousand Friends is a community-based organization that focuses on environmental issues and concerns. PBRC faculty have served as advisors on several issues being pursued by this influential grass roots organization, from the review of environmental impact statements to providing pro bono expert testimony in litigation for the protection of Hawai‘i’s natural resources.

Mālama Maunalua is a community-based organization that works closely with PBRC, NOAA, the Nature Conservancy, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Faculty and students from PBRC have been working with Mālama Maunalua, on the rehabilitation of Maunalua Bay (Diamondhead to Hawai‘i Kai) using an ahupua‘a approach. Studies were designed in collaboration with the partners to provide key data upon which to base and evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures. Specific information gathered and shared, includes models of sedimentation rates, circulation patterns within the bay, historical changes, effects of mudweed removal, and biomarker profiles of corals along gradients of discharge. PBRC faculty and students meet with the partners regularly for updates and planning.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Land and Natural Resources and its Division of Aquatic Resources has enlisted PBRC faculty to provide numerous research support services that included data collection and analyses, training, educational outreach, taxonomic support, and proposal review. The activities have resulted in the development of local resource management plans, improved metrics for project evaluation, and a framework for implementation of conservation practices.

State of Hawai‘i Science and Engineering Fair is the premier annual event showcasing the best intermediate and high school science projects. Many PBRC faculty have sponsored students and served as judges at the Fair annually, as well as at the county-level science fairs that select students to participate in the state fair.

The Bishop Museum is collaborating with PBRC faculty and students to produce a display of Hawaiian land snail biodiversity to be installed in its Science Center. PBRC faculty also have made presentations on Hawaiian land snails to community leaders at the Museum’s annual Charles Reed Bishop dinner.

Various agencies and schools have invited PBRC faculty to give educational and informational presentations on Hawaiian non-marine snail and slug biodiversity. These include Lunalilo Elementary School, State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the US Army Garrison O‘ahu.

The Friends of Kewalo is a community based organization of surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers, and other ocean recreationists who work to preserve coastal water quality and access. PBRC faculty and students have worked with the Friends to develop a community-based coastal water quality monitoring program and provide them with equipment, supplies, training, and data analysis support.

PBRC’s Greenwood Molecular Biology Facility (GMBF) offers site visits and presentations for high school and community college students in Hawai‘i. In recent years, these outreach activities included lectures in micro-array informatics under the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, Short-term Education Program for Under-represented Persons from O‘ahu high schools, short courses in modern genomic technologies for students from Leeward and Kapi‘olani Community Colleges, as well as training of community college instructors as part of the Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB) program in molecular biology at the University. The GMBF also participated in the Community Forum in Chemistry events at Windward Community College and organized an instrumentation workshop jointly sponsored by the Chemistry department and the American Chemical Society Hawai‘i Section for students and teachers from O‘ahu and Kaua‘i high schools. In addition, the GMBF supports high school science fair projects by site visits and hands-on demonstrations of DNA sequencing, sponsored by the STEM mentoring program of Leeward Community College.

The Maui Coral Reef Recovery Team enlisted a PBRC faculty member to provide the scientific support necessary to develop both the management and implementation plans for the restoration and preservation of Maui reefs. This community effort was funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The participating PBRC faculty member served as the working group chair and helped draft the resulting plan and supporting documents.

The West Maui Ahupua‘a Consortium has engaged PBRC faculty to provide the tools, data, and analyses that are necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of watershed-based mitigation efforts aimed at protecting coastal water quality and coral reefs in West Maui. A grant was written by PBRC faculty in support of this community-based effort, which has been funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This award will support the Consortium activities for the next two years as a partnership among the community, State and Federal agencies, and the University of Hawai‘i through PBRC.

The Moloka‘i Kawela Watershed Initiative arose at the request of the state liaison from the Governor’s office to the Moloka‘i community. PBRC provided on-site assessment and recommendations on improving coastal water quality as part of a state-wide and regional watershed/ahupua‘a program for addressing land-sea connections. PBRC continues to collaborate with the U.S. Geological Survey on the implementation of mitigation measures designed to address erosion and coastal sedimentation on Moloka‘i.

The Kohala Center and the Kahalu‘u Bay Project is a part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) Track 2 project that has been managed and directed by PBRC. The major objective of this project was to develop the infrastructure (both research and cyber-infrastructure) to improve the capacity of local communities to manage their natural resources, particularly water. A key community partner in this project was The Kohala Center (TKC), which is well-known for its strong community network and effective management presence in West Hawai‘i. With funding support from the EPSCoR Project, a web-based Spatial Decision Support System (SDSS) was developed for the Kona region to improve local management capability. Important cultural water sources around Kahalu‘u Bay have been mapped and can be viewed on the TKC web-based portal that was developed as an information resource for the Kona community.