Friends of Hakalau Forest
National Wildlife Refuge
December 2018 Newsletter
Presidents' Perch December 2018
J.B. Friday
President, Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
In This Issue
Presidents' Perch

Tom Cady - New Refuge Project Leader

Refuge Happenings

Research in the Refuge

Update on Challenge grant for Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR Endowment

January Events


The upper reaches of the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge have been fenced and feral domestic animals including the cattle and pigs that used to roam the forest have been removed (and of course continue to be removed as they stray in). Once the animals were removed, the long work of reforesting the barren areas of the Refuge was able to begin. Without pigs, the pig wallows dried up and the number of breeding places for mosquitoes decreased. Since the Refuge was protected the populations of native birds have remained stable while they have decreased everywhere else in the state.
               It now looks likely that protecting the forest from feral domestic animals protects more than just the birds and rare plants: it protects the ‘ōhi‘a trees themselves. Again and again in our work on Hawai‘i Island we see wounded ‘ōhi‘a trees succumb to Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death. Wounds provide easy entry points for Ceratocystis, the fungus that causes ROD. In forests where there are large populations of cattle and pigs there are many of these injured trees and many are infected with Ceratocystis. In contrast, fenced forest areas with few feral animals have much less Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death, and indeed there have been no cases yet reported in fenced and protected areas on the Refuge.
               You can help protect the Hakalau Forest by contributing to the Friends of Hakalau Forest Endowment. Funds from the Endowment will be used to ensure that fences are properly maintained, feral animals controlled, and the forests are managed for the native forest birds and rare plants that belong there. You can contribute to the Endowment through our website at Any donations through December 2018 will be matched one to one by a challenge grant from the Godsey family. The forest thanks you. 


New Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex Project Leader

Aloha, Friends of Hakalau Forest!
 I am very pleased to say that I will be returning to the Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex (BIC) as the new permanent Project Leader. You may recall that I was on detail into the position this past May-July, which was a hugely rewarding experience itself. It took some time to work through the hiring process, but I was officially offered the position at the end of October, which I most happily accepted. I will begin work back in Hilo on the second week of January. Honestly, Hakalau and Kona Forests have not left my mind since I was there this past summer. The refuges and Big Island are such amazing, complicated, opportunity-rich places that I can hardly wait to dive back into it all. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to lend my skills towards protecting some of Hawai’i’s beautiful natural treasures.
Here is just a bit about my background and work experience. I currently have 19 years of Federal service working for three different agencies. Most recently, I served as the Deputy Refuge Manager at the Alaska Peninsula and Becharof NWRs (USFWS) in Southwest Alaska. Most of my time was spent overseeing ‘day to day’ operations, but I also led several large station enhancement projects that greatly improved the refuge’s overall operating efficiency. Prior to that role, I spent 14 years working for the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. I worked in several positions ranging from Fisheries Biologist to Supervisory Biologist. Most of this experience involved working on forest management and watershed restoration efforts. My first position with the Federal government was with the National Marine Fisheries Service working with Threatened and Endangered salmon stocks in the Pacific Northwest. Despite not having an extensive FWS Refuges background, I bring to BIC a diverse blend of knowledge, skills, and experience that I am certain will lend invaluably towards the conservation of the BIC’s resources. 
On the personal front, my wife, Melissa, and I have been married over 18 years, and we have had the good fortune to work together as a ‘dual career couple’ in the same offices for much of that time. We don’t have any children, but we have plenty of other things in life to keep us busy. We enjoy traveling, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and cooking (and eating) good food. We are both especially fond of fly fishing for bonefish (o’io), which encompasses most of the aforementioned activities.

Melissa and I are thrilled to be coming to Hilo! After so many years living in remote Alaska, we are extremely excited about living in a mild, inviting climate; owning our own home again; enjoying bountiful, fresh produce; and going out to enjoy a nice restaurant meal from time to time. Melissa will continue working for the Alaska Peninsula and Becharof NWRs (summer in Alaska, winter in Hawai’i), until she can find a new situation in the Islands.
In closing, I would like to say that, as a manager, I am intrigued and driven by the complexities that natural resources management presents. For me, Hakalau and Kona Forests offer huge challenges and rewards in every aspect. There will be many things to learn and appreciate in the coming years, and I look forward to meeting the challenges with help of our Friends group and the refuge’s partners. Please stop by and say aloha, and hopefully we can work together on a refuge project sometime in the near future.


       Cashell Villa, Acting Project Leader
Chad Smith repairs road after damage from Hurricane Lane.

FOLLOW-UP: In October, the Refuge wrapped up the clean-up efforts from Hurricane Lane. With a crew of more than 10 people helping, all of the roads and fences that were damaged from the storm were repaired in record time. We appreciate all of the help and hard work from those that came to get Hakalau back to normal operations.
RECENT EVENTS: On Friday, November 9 th Hakalau Forest Staff, Friends Board Members, and members from the volunteer group “Young Guns” came together to celebrate the Refuge’s 2018 Volunteers of the Year: Daniel and Dean Masutomi. The Refuge nominates volunteers annually to recognize those that have gone above and beyond. As you can imagine, choosing only one or two of our wonderful volunteers is a difficult task with so many to choose from. But it gives us the opportunity to say “Thank You”. We know that we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the great support and help from volunteers like Daniel and Dean and all of the other folks that make the trek up to Hakalau to participate in our Reforestation Program. Mahalo Nui Loa to all of our VOLUNTEERS!
Daniel (left) and Dean (right) Masutomi with "Volunteer of the Year" plaques.
Andy Kiiuta who is retiring after 26 years of service at Hakalau.
STAFFING: The Refuge is looking at big changes in personnel in the upcoming months. We will be welcoming new Refuge Manager, Tom Cady, in mid-January. In addition, selections are underway for a new Maintenance Mechanic, which we hoping will be filled by the end of January. New KUPU intern Jessica Loeffler will be heading the Nene Program at the Refuge this year and Aspen Billiet has taken on the Outreach Intern position. Aspen will soon be ready to lead Friends tours and service projects to the Refuge. Dates of tours and service projects will be announced after the New Year. We are happy to see some new faces, but we are also saying goodbye to some good friends as well. Pest Control Worker, Damien Arcangel, is leaving the Refuge at the end of November to take a new job with the State. We are also saying farewell to Andy Kikuta. Andy is retiring after 26 years of service here at Hakalau. He spent the first 20 as the Supervisory Maintenance Mechanic and then switched to Fire Management Specialist for the islands the last 6 years. We wish Damien good luck in his new job and Andy bon voyage on his upcoming adventures in retirement.
New interns - on the left is Aspen Billiet (Outreach)
and on the right is Jessica Loeffler (Nene).

Steve Kendall, Refuge Biologist
We are concerned about impacts that Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) could have on the forests at both Refuge Units. ROD is a fast-spreading, highly virulent fungal ( Ceratocystis) disease that can decimate stands of native forests. This disease has killed hundreds of thousands of ‘ōhi‘a trees on Hawai‘i Island. So far, we have not confirmed any ROD infected trees at the Hakalau Forest Unit but have found 11 infected trees at the Kona Forest Unit. To monitor ROD we have collaborated with the Division of Forest and Wildlife (DOFAW) and Big Island Invasive Species Committee-Early Detection Rapid Response (BIISC-EDRR), who have conducted several aerial reconnaissance surveys (helicopter). They found heavily infected areas near both refuge units and many potentially infected trees within Refuge boundaries. Once suspect trees are identified, we go in on the ground to collect samples for testing. To date we have tested greater than 70 trees at the KFU, but only a few (24) easily accessed trees in upper elevation areas of the HFU.  
It is very challenging to locate trees identified from aerial surveys on the ground. The actual location of the trees can be up to 100 meters or more from the coordinates recorded in the helicopter. Poor lighting, a dense canopy and tall trees add to the challenge. However, we have been working with BIISC-EDRR teams using small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS ) to assist in locating trees. We have used sUAS to locate trees at both units and have another mission scheduled for the HFU during 1 st week in December. To collect samples, we hike to the general area identified from the aerial survey and then launch the drone to look for symptomatic trees, trees with retained brown leaves or fine branches, all the while keeping an eye out for curious or defensive I‘o. From the sUAS we can see real time images of the forest. When a potentially infected tree is identified, we are able to collect GPS coordinates from the sUAS. Then the sometimes, torturous hike through ulehe ferns begins to get to the tree and collect samples. Samples are taken by drilling in to the sapwood of the tree to collect shaving and using a hatchet to get wood chips. We try to target areas of black staining in the wood, which is a telltale sign of the fungus. Lisa Keith’s lab at the USDA Agricultural Research Center conducts tests on the samples to detect the presence of the ROD fungus.
At this time, there is no known method to protect trees from infection, so the best strategy for management is to reduce exposure to fungal spores. One of the primary modes of transportation of fungal spores is thought to be by wind-blown frass from non-native beetles that are boring into dead trees. Also tools, equipment, gear and vehicles that may be contaminated. Feral ungulates may also play a role in ROD distribution as they damage trees and move around spores. Since fine grain frass can be blown considerable distance from tall, standing ‘ōhi‘a trees one of the management actions is to monitor infected trees for presence of beetles and frass and cut down affected trees if that can be done without damaging surrounding tress. Other management actions taken at the Refuge to prevent the spread of ROD include implementing stricter biosecurity protocol, reducing public access and working with the U.S. Forest Service to establish monitoring plots. We are hopeful that through these efforts we can limit the impact of ROD at the Refuge.
Pest Control Worker Leland Jardine collecting wood samples from a potentially infected ‘ōhi‘a tree to test for the presence of ROD
Update on the Dollar for Dollar Challenge Grant
for Friends of Hakalau Forest NWR Endowment
Mahalo to all who contributed so far to get us to 63% of the Godsey's Challenge Grant

Please kokua to help us meet the 12/31 deadline.
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge is the top refuge for native Hawaiian forest birds, but it is threatened by a constant onslaught of weeds and feral animals. To ensure the future of the Refuge, the Friends of Hakalau Forest have established an Endowment to fund ongoing protection. Ben and Yvonne Godsey have established a $10,000 Challenge Grant to fund the Endowment. Every donation to the endowment through the end of 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a max of $10,000. 
Ben, Nathan, Zachary, Alex and Yvonne Godsey
by the giant ohia tree in Hakalau.
January 19th 1-3 pm Annual Meeting
Room D202   , UH Cooperative Extension Service
875 Komohana St. Hilo
Yearly gathering of members, election of Board of Directors, introduction of the new Refuge Manager, annual reports and presentation (more information will be sent by early January).

As described at last year’s Annual meeting, the Board approved By-Law Amendments formalizing the endowment and its procedures will be ratified at this annual meeting. Copies of the By-Laws and Amendments will be available at the meeting.

January 23th 7pm Community Meeting
Mokupapapa Discovery Center
76 Kamehameha Hwy Hilo
Translocating Chicks To Create New Seabird Colonies

Leilani Fowlke of Pacific Rim Conservation
Pacific Rim Conservation (PRC) is a non-profit organization that works to maintain and restore native bird diversity, populations, and ecosystems in Hawaii and the Pacific Region. Leilani Fowlke, PRC Outreach Coordinator, will be speaking with Friends of Hakalau on January 23rd about their revolutionary conservation efforts in translocating seabirds .
Leilani will tell us about the Black-footed Albatross, Bonin Petrel and Tristram’s Storm-petrel translocations happening on Oahu with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge and the Newell’s Shearwater and Hawaiian Petrel translocations occurring on Kauai at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, American Bird Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Packard Foundation

Discover their importance to stabilizing declining seabird populations. Learn about PRC’s use of predator-proof fences to create “islands within islands,” and why the translocated chicks will return to this safe site. Watch the PRC animal care team in action and see how up to 100 chicks are cared for and fed each day and what it takes to keep all of those little birds healthy. 
Gain a better understanding of the threats these seabirds are facing, ranging from losing their nesting grounds to sea level rise to invasive mammalian predators taking eggs, chicks and adults. As the leaders in translocating these species, this is a great opportunity to come learn what it takes to create a new seabird colony and what you can do to help! We are looking forward to seeing you there.
The Friends of Hakalau Forest T-Shirts are available in an assortment of colors.
Black, Kelly Green, Gray, Sand, Light Blue, Royal Blue, Dark Green, and Maroon
Adult S,M,L,XL
Short sleeve $20
Long sleeve $25
Ladies cut $20

Youth S,M,L
Short sleeve $18

If mailed, add shipping.

To order: send an email to:
  or call Cathy at 808 961-6142.

Indicate size, style and color preferences and
leave a phone number where you can be reached. 

Friends of Hakalau Forest, National Wildlife Refuge is a 501 ( C ) ( 3 ) organization and is recognized as a tax exempt non-profit organization by the Federal government and the State of Hawaii. We appreciate and thank you for your membership and your donations.