As Summer departs and we leave behind some of the hottest months of the year, we all recognize the value of cooling shade trees. The consciousness of people is rapidly increasing on the need for more shade trees, but they do not grow large overnight.
In Honolulu, working with partners, we continue to press for an agenda by the city and other organizations to increase our tree canopy in urban areas to 35% by 2035. While this is a lofty goal and will require the state, counties, cities and others to increase planting dramatically from current levels, we know it can and must be done if we are to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Mostly due to increasing development, tree canopy coverage continues to fall and we are currently at about 20%, well below where we should be, especially in comparison with other cities. This is not a Honolulu-only issue. Statewide, urban or rural, we are seeing declines in canopy tree coverage. We have not been planting trees at rates needed to create more canopy shade all over the islands.
Your support of The Outdoor Circle helps us speak with one voice to engage governmental agencies and other large and small landowners to plant and maintain healthy trees, just as we have been doing for well-over a century.
We are delighted to announce that TOC’s Exceptional Trees mapping project now has been updated with geotags on virtually all ETs statewide. We have developed an app, available for download, to find out more information about exact locations and information about each tree, with photos and details. This same information is repeated on our website—please have a look and nominatemore trees to this Exceptional Tree list.
We continue working with our friends at the Kaulunani Urban & Community Forestry Program and SmartTrees Pacific on programs to map trees using trained ‘citizen foresters.’ This mapthen becomes a comprehensive tool to determine exact locations where the need for new trees is the greatest and replanting will be in concert with the City and County of Honolulu. We hope to expand this program to other areas.
An exciting project we have completed is an all-islands Google Trekker mapping of trails, parks, scenic areas, botanical gardens and more. Selected by Google as its partner in Hawaii‘, a 360 degree view 11 camera backpack was worn to film and allow a viewer to ‘virtually’ hike or travel all around some of Hawai‘i’s most exquisite scenery and natural beauty from the comfort of their homes. This is perfect for those who wish to explore an area before a trip, in lieu of a trip or for other reasons and does not hinder those who cannot view these places directly for whatever reasons. TOC is proud to partner with Google on this innovative and cutting-edge program.
More recently, we have partnered with the University of Hawaii to begin a large-scale reforestation effort across Oahu that we plan on expanding out to all islands where there is interest. This program is called the “Carbon Neutrality Challenge” and teaches students about the benefits of trees and how planting them will not only help reduce/offset their carbon footprint, but also help increase the size and health of our urban canopy and important forests. As of now, we have already planted 200 native plants comprised of various species, with thousands more planned for this upcoming year. Our upcoming event on October 27thwill be the launch event of the second phase of this program, with the goal of planting 1,000 trees at our four sites in a single day.
Of course, TOC also stays vigilant, on a daily basis, regarding illegal signage and visual blight, whether through individual calls to the office or challenges to legislators who put our visual landscape and view planes at risk via banners, ads, sponsorships for city and county properties, and so on. Newer challenges also include areas of light pollution and the destruction of beauty caused by excessively bright lighting. Please continue to be our eyes and ears in the community.
Many thanks to our hardworking board members, committee members and volunteers on projects locally and statewide. We thank our outgoing board members Josie Bidgood, Kaui Lucas, Michael Moskowitz, and Paula Ress, for their dedication over their terms as board members and to the mission of The Outdoor Circle. We welcome new board members Mimi Bornhorst Gaddis, Christian Palmer, Jennie Peterson, and Scott Wilson, and know they will contribute much to the organization.
To continue to donate to The Outdoor Circle while you shop, TOC is again participating in Foodland’s “Give Aloha” program. When shopping at any Foodland or Sack N Save store during the month of September you can donate to TOC during the check-out process. Just use your Maika‘i card and mention to the cashier that you would like to make a donation, up to $249, to The Outdoor Circle (I.D. #77116). Foodland will match your donation on a percentage basis.
Because you value the work that The Outdoor Circle has done over the last century and will continue to do for future generations, an important way to maintain the health of this organization is to include us in your planned giving arrangements. Please contact your estate planner, attorney, or our office for more information on how to easily set this up. Future generations will benefit from your bequests, and you will join in the legacy of those whose generosity in estate planning has allowed their gifts to continue to ensure we will be able to thrive and keep Hawai‘i clean, green and beautiful.
We sincerely appreciate your continued support via your participation when a call to action is made, becoming active with your local branch, and your membership, which allows us to speak with a louder collective voice to keep our islands clean, green and beautiful. Thank you again for your membership and continued support of The Outdoor Circle
By: Vanessa Distajo
The Mānoa Branch of The Outdoor Circle has had an incredibly active year of volunteering. In the midst of beautifying, educating and advocating, we have deepened our partnerships with the City & County of Honolulu, other non-profits, schools, businesses, and State agencies.
Our key stone project this year has been the restoration of Kamānele Park. With the approval of the Department of Parks & Recreation Director Michele Nekota and Clint Jamile of the City’s Adopt-a-Park program, we organized thirteen clean up days to remove over three and a half tons of invasive vegetation that had been covering over the cultural site for decades. Working closely with the archaeologists from OASES, we were able to have the site officially mapped. It was determined that the site was used by Native Hawaiians for ceremonial, agricultural and habitation purposes, and does indeed feature the remains of a heiau. We will continue to maintain the area as we develop a historic preservation plan with OASES, Mālama Mānoa, and other community stakeholders.
The playground aspect of our Kamānele Park Project has been coming along as well. A design concept was developed by a team of local educators to reflect the history and legends of Mānoa Valley. We also formulated a list of interdisciplinary connections, and shared them with Dr. Edna Hussey, Principal of Mid Pacific Institute, because the lower school campus she supervises is adjacent to Kamānele Park. The Mid Pacific first and second grade students used Kamānele Park as an Inquiry Project. We were pleased to attend their celebration, and donated books to their classrooms to commemorate the culmination of their work. Furthermore, we formed a relationship with Punahou School, facilitating service learning classes for the Academy G-Term and the Hawaiian Culture II class.
Last November, we shared the Kamānele Park Project Proposal with the Mayor’s Commission of Culture and the Arts. The eleven commissioners unanimously voted in support of our project. Also, we received strong support along the way from City Council Member Ann Kobayashi, who donated snacks for our volunteers, and championed funding for the new playground to help us with our fundraising efforts. Thankfully, the Executive Budget Bill 16 passed, allocating $150,000 for the engineering site work for the new playground. Council Member Trevor Ozawa, Chair of the Budget Committee, loved the project too, and worked hard to find more money in the City’s budget to increase the amount to our estimated total of $216,000. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s contributions to this massive community improvement project.
In addition, it is important to briefly mention a few of our other projects which received media coverage. We negotiated with Alexander & Baldwin to save the seventeen mature monkey pod trees at Mānoa Marketplace; we organized the 1,000 Tree Give Away with Mālama Mānoa; we advocated for the residents of UH Faculty housing as they had valid environmental concerns about DLNR’s Mānoa Stream Dredging Project; and we submitted testimony to elected officials about the issue of monster houses. Our year has been hectic and overwhelming at times with all the multitasking, but it has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling to make such positive impacts in the community that we love.
The branch is now over three years old and is still very much a “work in progress”.
As TOC’s most urban branch, it faces unique challenges trying to be relevant in the middle of Hawaii’s economic engine - mass tourism. We named it “Greater Waikiki” to include the major parks on each side of Waikiki’s neighborhood board district boundaries. It has proved difficult to attract volunteers to fill any Board positions, however, and so far we have not yet held a single public meeting of our members.
But our decision to build a robust and comprehensive branch website, www.waikikioutdoorcircle.org, has turned out to be more successful than we first expected. Thanks to Myles Ritchie’s indefatigable technical skills, the website now regularly attracts many hundreds of online visitors each month even if they don’t provide us with any feedback. Our website Newsletter “Waikiki Whisperer” was intended to be rather provocative and carries the warning that the stories represent only the opinions of the authors and not those of TOC’s Board. Our series “The Death of Darkness” on new LED lighting issues introduced new language on the topic that has, surprisingly, been copied all over the island. We believe it played an important role in getting the city and county authorities to modify their initial proposals on the replacement of 50,000 island streetlights with powerful new LEDs. We hope that our stories on issues relevant to Waikiki will function as a de facto “Think-Tank” for TOC.
We are delighted that our strategy to work closer with the Waikiki Neighborhood Board has resulted in two recent Resolutions of Support for our work. Last year they encouraged development of our new Trees and Livability Committee and in April we provided an update on our three tree planning and replacement projects as coalition partners with other organizations. Later this year we will provide them with an update on our work on Livability of Waikiki - focusing on the troublesome three issues - Street Noise, Excessive Illumination by new LED lighting/signage and Walkability allowing people to walk safely each day as their main way to stay healthy.
Finally, we have actively promoted the issue of Save The Ala Wai Promenade, the city’s most beautiful and peaceful canal side avenue of Exceptional Ficus trees. Located in the Ala Moana/Kakaako neighborhood board district, the project has now received resolutions of support from three adjacent boards and a commitment of city budget funds so far of $100,000. We are encouraged by the recent restoration of the irrigation system in Ala Moana Regional park that has transformed the health of the trees, shrubs and grass there.
As time progresses, we aim to build upon these promising accomplishments to attract new members and continue TOC’s goal of keeping Hawaii clean, green and beautiful.
Waimea Outdoor Circle - Stream Restoration Project at Ulu La`au Waimea Nature Park
Waimea Outdoor Circle successfully partnered with the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program and recently showcased the completion of a four-year long stream restoration project at Ulu La`au the Waimea Nature Park on July 14th. Community members were invited to see the different methods used to stabilize the banks of the stream and control erosion with native plant restoration.
East Hawaii Island Outdoor Circle
The East Hawai‘i Island Branch has been working on education and awareness for the trees on Banyan Drive in part by helping start a “Friends of Banyan Drive” and developing an informational pamphlet. The trees are in dire need of care. We have pushed for and achieved, the reestablishment of the Big Island Arborist Advisory Committee.
East Honolulu Outdoor Circle
The East Honolulu Branch celebrated Arbor Day with a birthday party for the 10 kou trees planted five years earlier in the Diamond Head Crater.
Kaua'i Outdoor Circle
The Kaua’i Outdoor Circle, although small, has had a positive an impact on the Kaua’i community. We had our annual educational booth at the Arbor Day Tree Giveaway; held tree pruning demonstrations for the State Public Works Department and the County Beautification Department and continue to work with the County Building Department on regulating signs.
Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle
The Lani-Kailua Branch had a very successful 26th Annual “I Love Kailua” Town Party this year, raising almost $30,000 to help fund our beautification projects around Kailua, including the on-going landscape maintenance of two major traffic triangles, and the proposed landscape refurbishment of Alala Point, at the entrance to Lanikai, a landscape project that LKOC installed 25 years ago, with proceeds from the very first Town Party, and has maintained since 1999.
Waikoloa Village Outdoor Circle
Progress is being made toward creating a Waikoloa Community Garden on a quarter acre lot we have procured. We have installed a sub-meter for the water, have recently purchased other irrigation supplies, and the trench work has begun. We look forward to completing the construction so planting can begin.
The North Shore Outdoor Circle (NSOC) members climbed and volunteered atop Mt. Kaala, held workshops, and pruned trees in Haleiwa’s Weed Circle. Members also monitored Haleiwa Special District amendments related to signage as bills moved through the City Council and gave input regarding portions related to sign codes in the Land Ordinance revisions. The NSOC, worked with the Haleiwa Community on view plane issues related to Special District amendments on food trucks, supported efforts to preserve the view plane in lieu of a 72 foot cell phone tower fronting the land trust behind Sunset Beach Elementary School and wrote letters and visited city officials regarding the condition of Ke Ala Pupukea. The NSOC also became a partner in the Sunset Beach Dune Restoration Project and adopted the ginger garden in Waimea Valley.
Members of the North Shore Branch climbed and volunteered atop Mt. Kaala, held workshops, and pruned trees in Haleiwa’s Weed Circle. Members monitored Haleiwa Special District amendments related to signage. We worked on a number of view plane issues: the Haleiwa side of Waimea Bay, Special District amendments on food trucks, and the land trust behind Sunset Beach Elementary School. We engaged city officials regarding the condition of Ke Ala Pupukea, became a partner in the Sunset Beach Dune Restoration Project, and adopted the ginger garden in Waimea Valley.
Since 2014, TOC has been working on revitalizing its Exceptional Tree Initiativefor the statewide law it helped to create in 1975 that protects these valuable tree specimens. Part of this program has seen the development of TOC’s “Exceptional Tree Map”which is constantly being updated as new trees are added and removed from each county’s registry across the state. However, over the last couple of years, there has been a net loss of Exceptional Trees (ET) across the state as many of these individuals are reaching the end of their natural lifespan and are beginning to fail.
To reverse this loss, TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie began working much more closely with Arborist Advisory Committees from counties with active ET programs to try and curb this alarming trend. Myles has been appointed to the Oahu Arborist Advisory Committee and is an active liaison working with committees in each county and property owners to increase the number of ET nominations submitted with the overall goal of seeing new ETs added to each county’s respective register. This work has paid off as new ETs have been accepted in addition to more under further consideration. While the new status of these trees will not be made official until they are approved by respective county councils when the annual ordinance change occurs, on Oahu alone, there are at least four new trees and one grove that should be receiving this distinction in the coming weeks.
While the nomination of new ETs is crucial to the program’s success across the state, education regarding these trees is also a vital component as well. The two most common questions asked when presenting or talking about ETs are: How old is the tree and what were the criteria used in determining its selection for inclusion into the ET registry? While age is always difficult to pinpoint, the use of historical documents always assists with this process as does using the original nominating documents to find the reason for a tree’s exceptional status. In order to do just this, Myles has just finished digitizing all of the original Oahu ET nomination documents (this has never been done before) and will be creating a database that will answer both of these questions related to age and selection criteria. In the coming months, this data will be added to the Exceptional Tree Map so that the general public will finally have answers to two of the most commonly asked questions related to these trees.
While all of this is welcomed news, the need to continually send in new nomination forms remains of the utmost importance, in addition to beginning to lay the foundation for a Next Generation Exceptional Tree program that will replace those that are near the end of their lifespan.
Saving Our Street Trees - An innovative root barrier program that looks to reduce infrastructure damage and save our mature urban forest
In 2017, TOC was approached by University of Hawai‘i professor Dr. Andrew Kaufman to participate in a research program that has been designed to find alternative root barrier methods that would work in Hawai‘i to greatly reduce the number of mature street trees that are removed annually due to infrastructure damaged caused by their roots.
The initial project had already been underway for a few years but it was at this point that increased data collection and research needed to be conducted in order to understand the full impacts of the three different root barrier methods under consideration (standard root barriers, root paths and Silva cells). Due to the immense potential that this research could have on preventing mature trees from being constantly removed and replaced with new smaller trees, and the research experience that TOC’s Programs Director, Myles Ritchie, has in the field, this seemed to be a natural fit.
Now, a year and a half later, the data that has been acquired has recently been published in the May/June 2018 issue of the Landscape Industry Council of Hawai‘i’s (LICH) Hawaiiscape Magazineshowing the progress that has been made and the potential findings that will be seen when the final data is analyzed in two years’ time. Below is an excerpt from the article that highlights the goal and benefits of the research: "This research will be one of the first projects addressing tree installation, root zone strategies, and mitigating existing tree/infrastructure conflicts in tropical municipal landscapes. It will begin to generate techniques for proper tree selection, installation, and maintenance which could be employed statewide. These kinds of techniques will not only improve the aesthetic quality of Hawaii’s public landscapes for visitors, and residents, but has the potential to save the State thousands of dollars per year in urban forest amenity replacements and maintenance practices. In addition, this project will help in the safety of urban trees in relation to sidewalks and streets from improper tree selection, installation, and maintenance practices due to the current lack of knowledge of how trees function in urban tropical environments, as opposed to those in more temperate environments. The results of this research could be immediately applied to future HDOT as well as C & C Honolulu urban tree planting projects. This could begin to drastically change the way trees are selected, installed and maintained in the State of Hawaii, thus improving the aesthetic, social, and safety of urban landscaped streets while becoming a viable economic practice” (Kaufman & Ritchie, 2018).”
Moving forward, the results of the research should help provide new information to those who conduct street tree plantings and infrastructure maintenance. From this, we should see a healthier and more mature urban forest throughout the state that also sees a decrease in the amount of infrastructure damage caused by tree roots, while at the same time, keeping sidewalks safe for all to use by mitigating the constant battle seen between trees and urban infrastructure.
Source: Kaufman, A., Ritchie, M. “Mitigating Infrastructure Damage by Trees: Hawaii’s First Research Study on Urban Tree Installation Strategies”, Hawaiiscape, Published May/June 2018.
This past year saw the completion of TOC’s partnership with Google’s Trekker program which highlighted various environmental, cultural and historical locations from around the state and saw them uploaded to Google Maps/Earth. All imagery from Kauai, Maui, Oahu and Hawai‘i Island can now be accessed through Google Maps/Earth and direct links to each location can be found on the TOC website (http://www.outdoorcircle.org/google-trekker.html).
Please note that for all locations featured, permission was granted by the respective property owner or government agency and no secret locations were a part of the program. The imagery has received praise for the numerous benefits that it can provide including the ability to use it for research purposes such as monitoring changes in invasive species composition over time, and allowing those who may not be physically or financially capable of visiting these wonderful locations, the ability to do so virtually.
One year ago, TOC announced a new collaborative program that it had begun to undertake with the University of Hawai‘i called the Carbon Neutrality Challenge. This program uses a three-tier approach focused on education, a unique carbon footprint calculator that tells you how many trees of a given species you need to plant to become carbon neutral and finally, a means to achieve this goal of carbon neutrality through the planting of trees at one of the program’s sites. Over this time, students from elementary schools through to the university level have participated in this program and has led to the planting of over 200 native Hawaiian tree species (Wiliwili, Lonomea and A‘ali‘I) at the Camp Palehua site.
Now, with the experience gained from this pilot project, the program will be expanding in scope to provide further access to additional students which will ultimately see many more trees planted around Oahu. Currently there are a few hundred trees growing at the UH greenhouse that are scheduled to be out-planted in the fall at the current Camp Palehua site, in conjunction with three newly proposed sites. These are located in Kailua, Moanalua and Wahila Ridge and have been made possible through support of the program by DOFAW and the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership. The goal for the upcoming fall is to have numerous groups of students participate in the program and ultimately come to these sites and plant over 1,000 new native trees.
Message from the Executive Director
Dear Outdoor Circle Family,
We are delighted to present this issue of The Greenleaf to catch you up on some of the activities of our organization and its branches.
The Outdoor Circle was pleased to hold its annual meeting and optional luncheon at the Hale Koa Hotel on August 26th, 2017. There was a special informative tour of some of the plants and trees provided before the luncheon by the dedicated groundskeepers at the Hale Koa Hotel, which makes up a significant percentage of green space in Hawaii. This tour had a second component after the annual meeting where Dr Brian Bagnall, president of the Greater Waikiki Outdoor Circle led a walking tour of the heritages on the wider property of Ft DeRussy. During the annual meeting, members were provided with updates on the year of what The Outdoor Circle has been working on, including updates on legislation which could seriously weaken our existing signage laws, and members also heard of various successes that the organization and its branches had over the year. Dr Bagnall was also a guest speaker who eloquently spoke of the serious and continued need for The Outdoor Circle due to continued threats even after a century, and that there is simply no other organization which commands the respect and has the moral authority of The Outdoor Circle in protecting Hawaii’s scenic and natural beauty. Dr Bagnall spoke other topics relevant to the organization, mong these was the need to address visual light pollution and the dangers this presents to not only the beauty of the islands, but our health. Dr Bagnall’s talk also included a perfect introduction about some of the newer and exciting projects the organization is involved in and handed over the podium to Myles Ritchie, The Outdoor Circle’s Programs Director.
Myles led members through a fast-paced and informative presentation on some of the various programs that TOC has been working on, including the Carbon Neutrality Project, the Exceptional Tree Initiative Map update and the Kailua Citizen Foresters Project and its proposed expansion. One particular program of interest is the Google Trekker Program, where Myles updated the members on how TOC was selected at the first nonprofit in Hawaii by Google to work on this prestigious program to map scenic areas of interest that are off-road and inaccessible by car. When completed the project will cover a wide range of sites on most of the Hawaiian Islands, from parks to trails to gardens and much more. This work was supported by a grant from HECO, which we sincerely appreciated receiving and with whom we have been fostering a positive and productive relationship. You’ll read more about these projects in this and future issues of The Greenleaf.
Also at the annual meeting, we were delighted to present some awards to those whose work deserved some special recognition of contributions and unwavering support for The Outdoor Circle. We were delighted to honor with a President’s Meritorious Award to Kathy Whitmire, Chair of the Public Affairs Committee for her dedication to following a myriad of issues, especially those on the legislative front and keeping us informed and on track. It is only through our devoted volunteers that our organization remains vibrant and vigilant, and Kathy exemplifies the best in those traits. Our sincere thanks goes to all members of each committee and to the board of directors who work so hard on The Outdoor Circle’s behalf both statewide and at the branch level. As TOC only has part time staff members, we rely greatly on the help of members of our board and volunteers from the membership at large. This year, each staff member wanted to acknowledge the special contributions from one person with a Staff Meritorious Award, the one person without whom our work would have been virtually impossible to complete. Jackie Wah, our Operations Director, recognized Diane Harding for her positive can-do spirit and efforts on a wide variety of fronts in the operational affairs of the organization. Diane also exemplifies the best of our organization with her dedication and energy she devotes to TOC’s mission. Myles Ritchie, our Programs Director recognized Dr Brian Bagnall, who has worked with Myles on a many projects, from developing an excellent website template for branches to neighborhood board presentations, to assisting and attending a number of events representing The Outdoor Circle. Brian’s tenacious spirit and enthusiastic nature compelling the organization forward is vital for not only Myles, but for the organization at large. Finally, Winston Welch, TOC Executive Director recognized TOC Treasurer Kathleen Bryan for her great contribution of time and energy to ensuring that the organization’s finances and general health are sound and advancing positively and offers wise counsel throughout the year. TOC also awarded its Corporate Partnership Award to Hawaiian Electric Company for its support of the Google Trekker program and inclusion of TOC in a number of venues and events where TOC could display information and increase awareness of the organization, its mission and its programs. An award for new beautification landscaping for the Park Lane project was presented the McNaughton Group, which contributed significant funds to the city to offset tree loss during its development to benefit Ala Moana park across the street where many larger trees have been recently transplanted for general community enjoyment. Finally, our sincere thanks to our Community Partnership Award to Kaulunani, a longtime partner of The Outdoor Circle and supporter of its mission, vision and projects. Specifically, The Outdoor Circle has been working with Kaulunani on the Kailua Tree Street Mapping Project, with over 4000 street trees mapped, their benefits provided and other important information, all collected by Citizen Foresters of the area.
Many thanks to you for your continued support of The Outdoor Circle and its mission over the past year.
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.