In case you have not seen the April edition of Hawaii Fishing News, check it out now while there may still be some issues available. This issue has a great story by Bob Duerr on MKRUG’s efforts to get the hunter’s issues before our legislative representatives.
Hawai’l island hunters held a series 01 protests at the DLNR headquarters in Hilo. They teamed wlth the Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group to conduct a standing-room-only legislative session called “The People’s Hearing; Hunting.”
The hunters came together to unify against Senate Bill 2782, which wants to puts in play the state’s 1.2 million acres of watershed. Gov, Nell Abercrombie and the DLNR called this watershed vision quest, “A New Day In Hawai’i: For hunters, it’s the same old nightmare: fence; snare; and eradicate.
Joe Griffiths, the organizer 01 the DLNR hunting protests, told HFN, “This is a land grab. Eradication and fencing; this is not a hunter fight. This is a people fight.”
DLNR’s new glossy publication “Wai: From the Mountains to Your Drinking Glass,” by Lisa Ferentinos, the overseer of the Watershed Partnership Program, issues the death warrant: “Protecting watersheds from hoofed animals is the first priority. Fencing is the most feasible way to prevent feral pigs, sheep, goats, deer and wild cattle from trampling and devouring native vegetation. Animals also spread destructive weeds and plant diseases.”
Though the unmerciful death of the pua’a, the wild pig, by a tightening wire noose is inhumane, the cruel reality is that while discarded animal bones litter the forest floor, the fences keep out Hawai’s most dangerous invasive species: people.
The watershed system in Hawai’i comprises nearly 1.2 million acres, with 600,000 on Hawai’i, 110,000 on Maui, 385,000 on O’ahu and 86,000 on Kaua’i. The state’s Natural Area Reserve System (NARS) has been anointed as the “new day” reserve’s warden. NARS is one of the first agencies to fence public land.
NARS, a DLNR offspring, was established in 1971 to preserve native ecosystems and cultural resources. Its first Watershed Partnership, a voluntary alliance, was established on Maui in 1991. In late 2011. Gov. Abercrombie and the state announced a 10-year plan “to strengthen links between protecting native forest and the watershed.” For hunters this was the setup for the Hawal’i “Hunger Games. ” In “Hunger Games,” a popular young adult book and now a major motion picture, citizens hungry and wanting to provide are tormented by arrogant and powerful over-rulers who create a fenced “atmosphere of helplessness and food scarcity that the main characters try to overcome in their fight for survival.”
Hunters see their island as so fenced that it reminds them 0f the Cold War’s Communist “iron curtain,” The Three Mountain Alliance, formerly known as Ola’a Kilauea Partnership, has nine partners including the State, Volcanoes National Park, The Nature Conservancy and Bishop Estate. The Partnership controls 1.1 million acres, brands the pua’a as invasive, and uses the snare as casually as an after-dinner toothpick.
The state is the largest public landowner, and Bishop Estate is the largest private landowner. They each own a roughly equal amount 012.2 million acres.
The state tries to pacify the hunters by saying that only 6 percent. or about 60,000 acres, of state lands are fenced.
Matt Hoeflinger, the hunting chair of the Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group (MKRUG), said, “The state keeps saying this. The 6 percent doesn’t tell the true story. Between The Nature Conservancy, Bishop Eslate, the national park, the military, you’re talking millions of acres. And these fenced areas just happen to be some of the best and most accessible hunting.”
This is certainly true of the nearly 19,000 acres of the rain forest reserve called Pu’u Maka’ala, the former Kulani Prison site located just outside of Hilo on the northeast flank of Mauna Loa. There NARS just grabbed 5,000 fence-and-eradicate acres.
As writer Jason Smith reported in the Big Island Weeklv, ‘”How many thousands of people have been sustaining themselves on the resources in the Pu’u Maka’ala, and for how long? Our island hunters feel such questions have been almost totally ignored.”
With 90 percent of island food shipped, Joe Griffiths asked, “If you want Hawai’i to be sell-sustainable, what is more self-sustainable than our natural game resources? Once you diminish that, where do we go?” Joe and his hunters teamed with MKRUG to put on “The People’s Hearing: Hunting.”
According to Prestdent Wayne Blyth, an off-road motorcycle enthusiast, The Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group began in 2009 as a “means of uniting users of public lands, as a clearing house of conflicts and to identify interests that all have in common. MKRUG promotes the right of access to and responsible use of public lands.”
One common theme with NARS efforts, DLNR’s “Wai: From the Mountains to Your Drinking Glass,” and Gov. Abercrombie’s”A New Day in Hawai’i” is that only environmentalists need apply. Hunters are not stakeholders and were not informed, consulted or asked by the governor, the DLNR or any legislator how they felt about the watershed bill. Hunters know they are not stakeholders at the public access public policy table.
Wayne feels that “There is a growing distrust of government agencies and elected representatlves in the management of public lands. Elected representatives have forgotten that the State is the steward of the lands, not their owner. These lands are owned by the public. The public needs to participate in decisions affecting the management of their lands. The people need a hearing.”
On three day’s notice, 200 people signed in and joined a standing-room-only crowd. All Big Island legislators were invited. Attending were Rep. Clift Tsuji, Rep. Jerry Chang and Councilmen Fresh Onishi and Brittany Smart.
Joe Griffiths, Matt Hoeflinger, Pat Pacheco, Tom Lodge, Steve Araujo, Waltham Johansen, Syd Singer and Tony Sylvester gave testimony. John Griffiths asked the DLNR a question, “Why does DLNR need to lake more, when they cannot manage what [they] have already taken? Do they ever go back and see if what they are doing works? Are they accountable?”
Tony Sylvester, an archery hunter with Mauna Kea expertise, took a look at exactly that question. He showed slides of the fire weed taking over Mauna Kea since the sheep have been eradicated to save the endangered palila bird. The palila bird population has declined since the sheep have been removed.
Tony then cited a U.S. Army-funded study written up In the Journal Invasive Species Compendium, published by the Ecological Society of America. The study wanted to see if pig removal changed the success rate of native plants. The study was titled, “Remote analysis of biological invasion and the impact of enemy release.” The study was done by scientlsts at Stanford’s Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science. They fenced two plots of land at the Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area. One area was a control, and one was an impacted assessment site. One had pigs, and the other was eradicated.
They described the study. “We conducted a large·scale experiment in Hawa’i to quantify impacts of ungulate removal on plant growth and performance, and to test whether elimination of an exotic generalist herbivore facilitated exotic success.”
The impacted and control sites areas were measured before and after ungulate exclusion using airborne imaging spectroscopy, LIDAR (light detection and ranging), time-series satellite observations. and ground-based field studies over nine years. The study “indicated that removal of generalist herbivores facilitated exotic success, but the abundance of native species was unchanged.” Bottom line: eradicating the pua’a does not increase native species.
Tony stated point-blank, “If they want to conserve water, close down a golf course.”
It’s hard to know how many acres have actually been fenced, but OHA has recently approved fencing 50,000 acres on Mauna Kea. Reasonable estimates indicate at least $10 million has been spent on Hawai’i island fencing. Snares have been bought by the thousands. If passed, Senate Bill 2782 will immediately appropriate $5 million to watershed protection.
Concurrent is Senate Bill 2511, a plastic bag tax bill that proposes a 10 cent tax on plastic bags. This will generate as much as $11 million per year. Senate Bill 2511 will mandate that 80 percent of the tax collected “shall be deposited into the natural area reserve fund established under Section 195-9, to be expended by the Department of Land and Natural Resources for watershed protection, restoration and acquisition.”
The DLNR proudly displays testimony against pigs and for the watershed bill. One of the eradication supporters is Hawai’i Department of Agriculture insect specialist Pat Conant who said, “Wild pua’a are indeed good to eat, but should they be at carrying capacity numbers in our watersheds and defecating in the mud, where our water comes from? Hunters are estimated to be 1 percent of Hawai’i’s population. Should we allow uncontrolled numbers of destructive alien animals to destroy our forests and watersheds so that the other 99 percent of us ultimately end up with less water, more erosion and silt on our reefs?”
Syd Singer said that once the ungulates are gone, the chemical spraying to control weeds and invasive plants will begin. While watershed proponents cringe at pua’a feces, they say little about the hushed secret of the environmentalists: chemical companies and their chemical controls will be replacing animals and their biological controls.
“In recent years, people have seen an erosion of access and use of public lands,” said Wayne Blyth, “Specifically, hunters have seen the eradication of game animals from Mauna Kea and recently an apparent all-out war against the wild pua’a (pig). There seems to be a constant stream of ‘environmental preservation’ initiatives being proposed by all levels of government. These initiatives are presented by volumes of documentation that most people have a hard time understanding. These initiatives seem to have one thing in common: loss of public access rights through land closure, fencing, and wild game eradication.”
Submit your watershed testimony now.
Funds DLNR for priority watershed forests: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2782,
State to collect a fee for plastic checkout bags: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=SB&billnumber=2511.
Establishes the emergency environmental workforce. Makes appropriations: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=2250,
No-Access Hakalau Refuge’s Expansion Plans: http://www.fws.gov/hakalauforest/planning.html.
Planning Comments E-mail Address: FW1PlanningComments@fws.gov.