We are so pleased that Governor Ige has chosen Suzanne Case to head up the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Senate Confirmation Committee voted unanimously to support her nomination. Now it is up to the Senate to vote on her nomination. The Outdoor Circle strongly endorses Ms. Case as she has the experience, expertise, and holistic approach necessary to lead this crucial department.
This nomination is notable because it is so significantly different from the Governor’s previous choice for the job; a choice that he withdrew after considerable public opposition based on the nominee’s lack of familiarity and experience with the Department, and appreciation for the importance of protecting our natural resources. Ms. Case’s nomination is a testament to what can be accomplished when the public actively engages with lawmakers to set the direction of public policy. Now we have a nominated that is clearly qualified for the position with the proper experience in managing natural resources and large organizations.
Ms. Case is currently the Director of The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii. In that position, Ms. Case manages 53,000 acres of preservation land with a budget of $11 million and a staff of 76. people. During her tenure, she oversaw the largest conservation land transaction in state history for 117,00 acres at Kahuku Ranch on Hawaii Island. She has extensive experience in natural resources management and advocacy, as well as partnering with public and private landowners towards shared resource management goals.
In 2014, Ms. Case received the prestigious Ho‘okele Award for her leadership, strategic thinking, and ability to bring different groups of people together towards common goals.
Ms. Case is clearly qualified to serve as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. She will be an excellent addition to the Governor’s cabinet.
Also interesting to read is Sen. Laura Thielen’s post on the importance of the DLNR Appointment.
Honolulu Community College (HCC) is home is to an epic true banyan tree with a storied history intertwined with TOC and the urban growth of Honolulu. If you haven't seen it, take a minute to swing by Kokea Street to take note.
HCC is preparing to build a new structure on campus in what is currently a tree-filled parking lot. The Outdoor Circle consulted with the Administration on the project proposal and this what we learned:
We strongly urged HCC’s Administration to find a way to keep the banyan tree and build their ATTC building. Current plans call for the building to be next to the banyan tree. Because banyans have aerial roots, it is possible to trim the banyan and train it to grow into the courtyard and away from the new structure.
This banyan has storied roots. It is the last known survivor of six cuttings taken from the banyan tree that once stood at King and Keeaumoku Streets. The Outdoor Circle fought long and hard to save that 100-year-old banyan tree from the widening of King Street. After a year-long effort, the wider road won and the tree was unfortunately removed. Before it died, however, six pieces were carefully cultivated and re-planted around Oahu in 1968. The only cutting known to have survived is this tree in the parking lot of Honolulu Community College.
This historic tree provides extremely valuable environmental services (for free), including sequestering carbon, capturing stormwater, and providing shade that reduces energy costs.
It would be a shame to lose such a value member of our urban forest, especially in these days of increasingly hot days in the city. If anyone is interested in helping to see how to save this tree and build the new ATTC structure at HCC, please click here to send us a note.
Historic bridges along Hana Highway are getting a structural make-over that is expected to take 50 years to complete. The painstaking process of dismantling the bridges and re-constructing them will result in stronger, safer bridges while preserving the historic feel of the area and the bridges themselves.
Unfortunately, this process will also have a dramatic impact on the trees along this historic highway.
The Chair of TOC’s tree committee is consulting with the project manager, Fung Associates, to ensure that every possible protective measure is taken to keep trees in the ground. As well as to ensure that where tree removals are necessary, replacement trees are planted when construction is complete.
Kapi‘olani Boulevard is expecting a new building this summer. Korean condo developer, Samkoo, is constructing a 45-story condo to provide affordable housing in downtown Honolulu. Mahalo to Board member, Steve Mechler, for meeting with developers, architect and landscape architect on March 20th to go over their plans for landscaping and area trees.
A representative of the project said that this is Samkoo’s first building in Hawaii and they wanted to be sure to make a good first impression.
The building will provide all affordable housing (1-3 bedrooms) and is designed within the existing zoning limitations. Their proposal calls for widening the public sidewalk and enlarging the planting wells for street trees. This is good because the current planting wells are too narrow, forcing tree roots to bunch up in the planting space and push up surrounding concrete. In the process of constructing the building, two monkeypod trees will be removed. These trees have been hit by cars and restricted by the small planting space, so they are not in good condition. When construction is complete, Samkoo will install two new comparable monkeypod trees nearby -- one immediately across the street and the other in place of the current driveway. They expect to breakdown this summer.
For ten solid years The Outdoor Circle was blessed to have the skilled support of Noelani Sugata. She worked her way up from Administrative Assistant to Operations Manager and learned every facet of the organization in the process. If you ever called The Outdoor Circle, then you have spoken with Noe. But she did so much more than answer the phones. She:
Yep, it’s true, she is amazing. She is a real trooper with a beautiful smile and great sense of humor.
Yet, as with all the good things, the time has come for Noe to seek out new adventures in faraway lands. Please join me in thanking Noe for all she has done for the Circle and wishing her all the best on her future endeavors. Noe: send us postcards!
Mayor Caldwell is proposing a major, multi-year renovation of Ala Moana Park. He is seeking public input on how to improve Hawaii’s “People’s Park” through an online survey website:
Please jump in and get involved!
At the first public meeting on the idea of renovating Ala Moana Park, the Mayor said all options are on the table and that he is open to any and all ideas. That could be a good thing, it could also be a bad thing -- all depends on which ideas are floated. That is why The Outdoor Circle along with many other concerned organizations and residents are keeping a watchful eye on this process. We could use your help to make sure no important details are missed.
The Mayor did announce that the park will pilot a new form of public restroom and repave the running track around the park.
Some of the ideas and concerns already raised at the public meeting and online include:
More to come in the next few weeks! Please contact us here if you are interested in being more involved in this public consultation process.
The Outdoor Circle joined with many environmental groups, including Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Sierra Club, and Conservation Council for Hawaii, to oppose the nomination of William Balfour to the Water Commission. Senators took testimony and asked pressing questions of the nominee at the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, and even continued the hearing on Friday. All senators will be asked to vote on this confirmation in the next few days.
For now, here is a report back on day one of the hearing from Conservation Council’s own, Marjorie Ziegler:
William Balfour’s response to questions by the Senate Water and Land Committee <on Wednesday> at his confirmation hearing was disappointing to put it mildly. It is very hard for me to believe the Governor nominated Mr. Balfour to serve yet another term on the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). Mr. Balfour did not know about the hierarchy of water uses or constitutionally protected rights and uses under the State Water Code, nor was he concerned that he did not know about this most important tenet of the code.
By Myles Ritchie
“What is ground-truthing? The easiest response is that ground-truthing is physically going to the desired object (in this case an Exceptional Tree) and obtaining the data in person that confirms previously collected data, or generates primary data that has never been collected for the specific target.
The Outdoor Circle began its initial tree mapping process with two graduate students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Nate and Spencer. The two of them worked together to complete Phase One of the project, which involved inputting previously collected data about Hawaii's Exceptional Trees into an open-source program called “Google Fusion”.
Phase Two, which we are currently in, involves verifying or "ground trotting" all of the data inputted during Phase One. Much of the data is outdated. The Exceptional Tree Act was enacted in 1975 and counties have had varying success maintaining their paper records of protected trees. The results have been typical of what is to be expected with data collected long ago: removed/dead trees, inaccurate coordinates, etc.. This just further demonstrates the importance of the ground-truthing process is when it comes to generating an accurate map for the public to use.
Ground-truthing requires a GPS unit, a tree-height finder, and an industrial tape measure to get the circumference of the tree. It is faster to ground-truth trees with another person and it provides a second opinion. A second opinion is important when assessing the condition of a tree, and deciding which new trees should be potential nominees. Also, the average park-goer might be curious and want to ask questions. By having a second person, the ground-truthing tasks can still be carried-out by one individual (although slower), while the other does the equally important task of educating the public on our goals for this project. As a side-note, by having two or more individuals mapping, it also makes the process safer and a lot more fun!
On March 4, I (along with three other incredible OC members) went to Hawaii Island to collect data for the map, and I am proud to say that Phase Two for the entire island was completed. Furthermore, I would like to say mahalo to our #GIVINGTUESDAY donors. Your donations helped pay for an experience that I will use in my future career as an environmental impact researcher, which will involve documenting and mapping the various ways humans impact the environment. From this, the goal of implementing positive changes to current policies and practices regarding environmental conservation is something I am extremely passionate about and look forward to accomplishing.
About the Author:
Myles serves as Programs Intern for The Outdoor Circle. He received his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geography along with minor degrees in geology/geophysics and history. He is studying for his master's degree at UH-Manoa in Geography. He is from Toronto, Canada.
You are going to learn a lot about us in this issue of our GreenLeaf!
Our tree preservation efforts and planting projects have kept the branches busy, and the advocating for open space protection, clean and green parks and public spaces, and signs concerns have kept our office busy. It continues to amaze me how our Executive Director Marti Townsend orchestrates the many functions that create the strong canopy of The Outdoor Circle, state-wide!
We share a collective mahalo to Noelani Sugata for her decade of service to our office. We welcome in our new office staffer Renee Nakagawa. We also bid a fond aloha to Gloria Taaffe, our tree mapping intern who will be leaving next month to finish her schooling from Florida. We are especially pleased that intern Myles Ritchie is going to stay on as Project Intern to help us finish our statewide tree mapping project. We are learning so much about the importance of the Exceptional Trees all throughout our beautiful islands.
We are looking forward to honoring Beatrice Krauss, Hawai'i's most beloved ethnobotanist, this Earth Day, April 22. Her legacy of ethnobotanical knowledge and public service lives on through her publications, course materials, plant collections and gardens, like the one at Lyon Arboretum. Bea enriched the lives of thousands of students, colleagues, friends and community groups by her teaching and spirit of aloha.
This is another in our series of micro-fundraiser Garden Tours. If you have a garden or know of one that can be the site for a Micro-fundraiser Garden tour, please let me know. It is a great way to discover more about the flora of O'ahu, meet new friends, and help support our efforts at keeping Hawai'i clean, green, and beautiful. Each tour is different but they are under 30 people, and sell out right away. Would you like to help us with a special Garden Tour in your neighborhood? We would love to hear from you!
I am so grateful to have such a hard working Board of Directors, who volunteer their expertise to best serve our nine Branches and the mission that has guided TOC for over one hundred years. I hope you will join us, reaffirm your membership, and consider volunteering through one of our Branches.
Today was the culmination of a grueling public process -- grueling for the nominee, the Ige Administration, the Senate, and for us, the public. The Senate convened at 11:30 AM to vote on whether to confirm the nomination of Carleton Ching. By all accounts, the vote was too close to call at the knock of the gavel. Every seat in the Gallery of the Senate Chambers was filled. Those concerned about this nomination sat in silent vigil over the Senate, wearing red as a demonstration of strength. We settled in for a long afternoon of speeches and vote-taking. Yet, after an extended recess, before any votes could be cast, a typed letter was delivered from the Governor to the Senate President officially withdrawing the nomination from the Senate’s consideration.
This entire confirmation process demonstrated that when the people of Hawaii engage, our voices are heard. Our participation in this process resulted in a better future for our natural and cultural resources and our democratic process. Thank you to everyone who showed up -- your testimony, phone calls, and emails all made the difference in this turn of events.
We know that Governor Ige is doing what he thinks is best for Hawaii. There are times when friends disagree. The time has come now for us to move on from our disagreement to the business of caring for our natural resources. We hope that one result of this confirmation process is improved collaboration between advocates for the environment and the Ige Administration. We look forward to helping Governor Ige develop an inclusive process for identifying new candidates for DLNR Director.
Here is the link from The Star Advertiser 3/19/2015
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.