2020 has been nothing short of a lesson in adaptation. I started a new role for Hawai‘i’s oldest environmental organization in February only to find ourselves at the mercy of a global pandemic just a few weeks later.
With human activity paused, we have seen the local native wildlife flourish and we have endured the perils of the Trump administration’s attacks on environmental policies. The call for a more inclusive and equitable environment across the country has resonated with us. CCH understands the need to amplify our voice in the fight for equity, justice, and inclusion of indigenous cultures.
Here are a few highlights from our year:
We supported legislation to ban single-use plastics, protect sharks in our waters, and safeguard precious forest lands on Hawai‘i Island.
We saw results of our years- long work with Earthjustice and Hawaii Wildlife Fund, winning a suit against Maui county over their installation of LED street lights without environmental review. The court agreed that since these lights cause disorientation for native seabirds and nesting green sea turtles, future installations must follow proper review practices and lights currently installed need to be remediated.
On Kauai, we continue to work with Earthjustice, Center For Biological Diversity, Hawaii Chapter, American Bird Conservancy, and Hanalei Watershed Hui to persuade the Kauai Island Utility Commission to remove problematic power lines that cross the flyways of seabirds, resulting in alarming mortality.
At this year’s National Wildlife Federation annual meeting, we sponsored a resolution which was adopted, supporting the control and eradication efforts for Invasive Mammalian Predators on Islands.
In May, we hosted our 5th Annual Manu O Kū Festival as a week-long, virtual event! CCH presented videos and new educational activities daily, and featured video and song contributions submitted by local keiki.
With support from Patagonia, L.H. Dorcy Foundation, and UH Press, Caren Loebel Fried’s Manu the Boy Who Loved Birds has been distributed to all elementary school libraries across the state.
As part of our Seabird Campaign, local artist Patrick Ching created a beautiful painting for CCH, from which we have created an educational poster which will be distributed to schools, elected officials, and organizations across Hawai‘i.
We could not have succeeded in these efforts without all of you – our partners, supporters, and our rock star board members. We understand the challenges 2020 has presented, and are thankful for your continued support. CCH is committed to adapting to an ever changing world and are excited to continue as the voice for Hawai`i’s wildlife.
A Message from our President, Rachel Sprague
Aloha mai kakou,
Our 70th anniversary year of the Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi turned into quite a different year than we expected, with the devastating pandemic. Under the leadership of Moana Bjur, however, we continue to successfully navigate the challenges and pivot to remote work.
CCH is active as the voice for Hawai`iʻs wildlife, supporting ongoing essential conservation efforts and fighting challenges and assaults on our native species, public lands, and trust resources.
We are grateful for the invaluable continued support of our members, and hope you continue your commitment to our work together in Hawai‘i.
As an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, we are active on the national stage as well. I continue to be impressed with the commitment NWF is making on environmental justice and equity. Their leadership is moving the conservation field forward to creating a more authentic and respectful partnership with communities of color and indigenous people.
We thank all the members who attended our annual meeting via Zoom, and invite those of you who couldnʻt make it to watch some of the presentations on our website. Although we missed seeing each other in person, we were enjoyed short videos highlighting our year’s work, beautiful music from Hanale, visits with artists Patrick Ching and Caren Lobel-Fried, and a well-deserved awarding of CCH’s Honu Award for Excellence in Conservation to Dr. Denise Antolini.
We bid farewell to one of our longtime board members, Julie Leialoha, who is venturing into new priorities, and welcomed three new board members for 2021.
Thank you to our other 2020 board members for your help with this meeting and hard work this year: Robin Kaye, Sunshine Woodford, Lisa Hinano Rey, Bianca Isaki, and Steve Montgomery!
Though we had different expectations for our 70th year, we won’t let it go by without fanfare, and we hope you’ll join us next year to celebrate, safely, in-person again!
Celebrating Seven Decades as Hawai’i’s Voice for Wildlife
For 70 years, Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi has been foundational to Hawaiʻi’s modern conservation movement. From our beginnings as a small collection of scientists, planners, and landowners, to our current organization with 5500+ members from all walks of life, we have always strived to protect Hawaiʻi’s native species, advance biosecurity, and preserve the ecosystems that are foundational to our Lahui.
We have been protecting native species big and small since the beginning, forming commissions, studies, investigations, lobbying efforts, and legal actions in the process. During our first decade of operation alone, we moved to defend Hawaiian Monk Seals, Sea Turtles, various Freshwater Fish species, Sandalwood Trees, and more. Over the years, we have also worked to protect the palila bird, oppose whaling in the pacific, and push for legislation to control the introduction of non-native or invasive species. At times, this has pitted us against commercial interests and political organizations. These fights take time; we continue to defend many of the same species we first defended six decades ago.
Over the years, CCH has been on the frontlines of fighting irresponsible Land Use, opposing the development of buildings and golf courses on top of important or endangered habitats. We have opposed dewatering practices by the sugar industry, filed lawsuits to prevent the Aquarium industry from depopulating our reefs, and sued the U.S. Navy over a sonar testing project that could have harmed millions of marine mammals in the Pacific. Moreover, our membership and partners are on the ground doing environmental cleanups, setting traps to curb the impact of native species, and pressuring legislators.
We also look to the future, seeking to promote conservation education for young people. We are proud to create and distribute educational materials for people of all ages with the support of corporate partners such as Patagonia, local artists, authors, scientists, and educators, and as an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. This includes developing brochures and classroom resources, securing funding for public awareness efforts, offering field trips and hands-on experiences for young people, and even supporting the production of a children’s book on conservation.
We believe that Hawaiʻi’s people, economy, and culture are better off when our actions are guided by stewardship for all native life. With your Kokua, we can continue this struggle for a better future for Hawaiʻi and a better world for Hawaiians.
Join us at www.conservehi.org/getinvolved
NWF Message from Les Welsh
Aloha everyone –
It is hard for me to believe, but this year marks my 10th year of involvement with Conservation Council For Hawaiʻi. In that time, CCH and National Wildlife Federation (NWF) have partnered on a number of important wildlife issues in the islands that have included campaigning for expanded critical habitat and recovery funding for the Hawaiian Monk Seal, the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea, and along with our friends at Hui Manu O Kū, co-founding and growing the popular Manu O Kū Festival – held each May on the Coronation Grounds of ‘Iolani Palace.
One of the values of this long-standing partnership is bringing the voices of Hawaiʻi, and the members of CCH in particular, directly to bear on national conservation issues that affect us all.
This year has been like no other, with unprecedented attacks on the bedrock environmental laws we all hold dear. With CCH’s help, NWF has worked to hold the line wherever possible. Together, we’ve taken a firm stand against the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the National Environmental Policy Act and mounted a huge, and ultimately successful, campaign to oust the improperly installed William Perry Pendley as head of the federal Bureau of Land Management. Pendley is the longtime president of the notoriously conservative Mountain States Legal Foundation, a group that has long advocated for selling off of the very public lands in the West that Pendley would have been charged to oversee.
With CCH and our other affiliates, NWF has continued to advocate for passage of the Recovering Americas Wildlife Act, which would provide $1.4 billion to state, territorial, and tribal wildlife agencies for the conservation of fish and wildlife species that are vulnerable to extinction.
During NWF’s own annual meeting last June, affiliates passed a national policy resolution, brought forth by CCH and co-sponsored by affiliates from Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, to address the impacts on native wildlife from rats, mice, free roaming and feral cats, and other introduced mammals. Again, with the support of CCH, we urged lawmakers to support the landmark Environmental Justice for all Act which would assist in the transition to a clean energy future while investing in and protecting front line communities.
CCH also joined NWF and many of our other statewide affiliates in July for the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which put pressure on Facebook to address how it allows and delivers misinformation around climate denialism, conspiracy theories, and other forms of hate and disinformation.
Perhaps most exciting, CCH along with nearly all of our 52 state and territorial affiliates fought for and won passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. This law, which passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress, will permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, providing close to $2 billion annually to address deferred maintenance issues at our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands. Meanwhile, NWF continues to deepen its commitment to Equity and Justice both internally and externally.
NWF and CCH, along with like-minded conservationists all across the country, know there will be so much more work to do in the year ahead.
Mahalo for all you do and for your ongoing and generous support of CCH.
Les Welsh, NWF, Associate Director and Director of Conservation Partnerships, Pacific
Invasive Predators in Hawai‘i are Scary Year Round
by Patrick Chee, Small-Mammal Control Planner, Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit – RCUH in collaboration with Division of Forestry and Wildlife Hawaii Department of Land and Nautral Resources
Every fall I find myself browsing Halloween decorations to see what rodents and cats are for sale. You might find that odd, but my job deals with invasive small-mammal issues here in Hawai‘i. Iʻm curious to see what people might find scary about small-mammals, and I find decorations to add to my Halloween decor. I actually keep several of them hanging around my office all year to remind me that these invasive predators are scary for Hawaiʻi’s native species every day.
Here in Hawai‘i, our native plants and animals made their way here across large expanses of ocean and found a place free from mammalian predators on land, except for insect-eating bats. Unfortunately, the arrival of humans brought several non-native predators to our islands which would forever change the ecological landscape of Hawai‘i.
Mongooses, cats, dogs, and rodents decimated our native birds, snails, insects, and plants in the lowlands. Even now, in the refuges that still remain, mammalian predators have followed them into some of the most remote areas of Hawai‘i. For example, rats, cats, and mongoose have all been implicated in the extinction of ʻalalā (Hawaiian crow) from the wild. Cats in particular both directly prey on ʻalalā and spread toxoplasmosis which is known to infect them. The ʻalalā was once found across most of the Hawaiian islands and played an important ecological role in the Hawaiian forest. The ʻalalā was a generalist that consumed insects and fruit and then distributed the seeds throughout the landscape. Predators have negatively impacted Hawaiʻi’s ecology and continue to do so at an alarming rate.
Because of these impacts on island ecosystems, the National Wildlife Federation, with the support of CCH, passed a resolution which urges state and local governments to take humane steps to protect island wildlife from introduced predators including cats and rodents.
In addition to toxoplasmosis, outdoor cats are known to transmit a number of diseases and parasites to wildlife and humans including hookworms, roundworms, and cat scratch fever.
The situation regarding cats is of added concern given their relationship with humans as companion animals. There has been significant pressure from cat advocates to promote Trap Neuter Return Manage (TNRM) programs as a way to address the growing number of cats established outdoors. Yet, significant scientific research shows that cat populations in these colonies often do not decrease over time, especially due to immigration or abandonment.
Outdoor cats are also more likely to live hard and shortened lives. An indoor cat may live 17 years whereas outdoor cats live an average of 2 to 5 years. In addition, Animal Control Contractors across the country have increasingly refused to intake stray cats and/or charge prohibitive fees in order to admit cats, a function which many had been contracted by their local governments to do.
Instead, they actively encourage TNRM or “return to the field” of cats to where they were found. This allows shelters to focus their limited space on socialized cats and cats that are injured or need additional care. However, this means healthy stray cats are returned to the area they came from where they can harm wildlife, leaving those who donʻt want the cats around with a serious dilemma.
Either the individual must find a contractor to get rid of the cat or find a way to eliminate the cat themselves. Clearly, neither alternative is desirable, and local solutions are still not available.
There are a number of efforts by nonprofits, government agencies, industry, and private citizens to reduce the impacts of non-native predators on islands. Many of these stakeholders have been working to build relationships that benefit animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and human health. In a number of localities, efforts have effectively worked under the strategy of “One Health” which highlights how keeping pets indoors or effectively leashed/contained is good for the health of people, the health of wildlife, and the health of the pets themselves. Stakeholders are building on common efforts like promoting pet identification, addressing behavioral issues, requiring sterilization, and promoting pet rehoming or surrendering unwanted pets to a shelter. These efforts help promote a common goal of keeping pets in loving homes, rather than being released into the environment and becoming harmful.
Invasive predators in Hawai‘i have an ongoing and significant impact on Hawaiʻi’s native species. If we do not act soon, more of them will become endangered and extinct.
We will continue to share updates on our efforts to reduce invasive predator impacts with CCH, and we hope for your continued support. The scary truth is that we are all impacted by invasive predators in Hawaiʻi, and not just at Halloween.
Contact your lawmakers and urge them to address invasive predators and their impacts on the health of people, pets, and our native species. CCH will keep you updated when policies addressing invasive predators are being considered by policymakers. Then, voice your support at the hearings (in person and in writing) to address the threat invasive predators pose.
CCH at the Capitol: A Reflection and Call for Action
Some of CCH’s most lasting and impactful legacies were borne from its steadfast advocacy before Hawai‘i’s legislature. We successfully fought for the state Natural Area Reserves System, Hawai‘i’s unique and robust Land Use Law, and statutory requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
We also secured continual state funding for biosecurity and conservation programs, and have always pushed back against legislation that would eliminate environmental protections or threaten public trust resources.
As one of the very few organizations to consistently “show up” for hearings on bills that affect Hawai‘i’s native species, CCH has certainly been a familiar face to many longtime legislators. Many legislators have even called CCH’s office for insights and advice on the matters before them.
Much of our success at the legislature can be attributed to our longstanding reputation for credibility, informed by members, staff, and directors with deep and substantial expertise on our native species and ecosystems. Our clear values for open, constructive dialog and mutual respect have enabled CCH representatives to engage with and persuade legislators on various issues.
We are already preparing for what may be one of the most unique legislative sessions in CCH’s history. As Hawai‘i enters the post-COVID era, there is potential for new and unprecedented opportunities and threats. CCH’s role as the staunch yet thoughtful and reliable advocate for Hawai‘i’s native life may be more important now than ever before.
Count on us to continue our decades-long legacy of advocacy at the legislature. We will always work to ensure our native species and ecosystems have a voice in our Capitol’s halls.
Join our Environmental Legislative Network!
Even the strongest environmental advocate cannot do it all alone. The Environmental Legislative Network (ELN) is a network of folks from all walks of life – students, teachers, scientists, conservationists, fishers, nature enthusiasts, even politicians – committed to helping protect our islands’ environment. We share ideas and action alerts, submit testimony, and participate in civil engagement efforts at the legislature.
Join ELN for free to become a part of this powerful community, no matter where you are!
Simply visit www.conservehi.org/getinvolved to learn more and sign up for alerts.
Help us take a collective stand for Hawai‘i’s environment and all that gives our islands life!
Traditional cultural practices of Native Hawaiians are vital to protect the native species and ecosystems in Hawai‘i nei
by Kaikea Nakachi – Moana Ohana
In Hawai‘i, sharks hold a special place in cultural practices and are also vitally important to Hawai‘i’s unique marine ecosystem. Sharks are one of the most prevalent organisms identified as ‘aumakua, or ancestral family deities in Hawai‘i, and to honor this, an ancient kapu or taboo was placed to protect most sharks from being fished or killed. Their cultural importance is emphasized further by the existence of kahu manō, or shark keepers, who held the responsibility of caring for patron sharks and in turn brought protection and bountiful resources. Today, many cultural practices have been oppressed and lost, and there are no state-wide laws protecting sharks anymore.
One Hawaiian family has sought to revitalize the practice of caring for sharks and restore the protection they once enjoyed. The Nakachi Family continues the traditions of their ancestors by studying and caring for sharks in West Hawai‘i. They are also a part of the Kaupulehu community that has spent decades fighting to conserve their local resources. The Kaupulehu Marine Life Advisory Committee (KMLAC) was formed in 1995 and in 2016 successfully passed legislation to create a 10- year no-take-zone along a 3-mile stretch of coast. Sharks are one of several elements of KMLAC’s conservation action plan that are being studied. The KMLAC seeks to form adaptive management strategies to cooperatively manage marine life with state agencies. This includes supporting additional legislation to further protect sharks, particularly since they are such wide-ranging beings.
The Conservation Council for Hawai‘i (CCH) has supported this effort by standing with Native Hawaiians in litigation efforts such as a lawsuit filed this year by CCH, the Nakachi Family, and Earthjustice that led to further protections for the Oceanic Whitetip shark.
CCH proudly supports the work that indigenous cultures do here in Hawai‘i and around the world. We are grateful for the work of the Nakachi Family and will continue to support their efforts by providing testimony in support of state legislation attempting to protect sharks from purposefully being harassed or killed, sharing their stories with and mobilizing the support of our members and partners.
Photos by Kaikea Nakachi, who has known and protected this shark family for many years.
He lā‘au ku ho‘okāki he lehua no Ka‘ala.
A single lehua tree of Ka‘ala.
Expression of admiration for an outstanding person, unequaled in beauty, wisdom, or skill.
-‘Olelo No‘eau, Mary Kawena Pukui
Aloha `Oe to Laura Kalaukapu Low Lucas Thompson
On Sunday, August 9th, Laura Thompson passed away in her Niu Valley home surrounded by family. She was 95 years old.
Laura led a long life as a staunch advocate for Hawai‘i’s natural environment, cultural resources, and animal rights. She is perhaps best known for her involvement with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which is dedicated to the perpetuation of the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and exploration. Her son, PVS President and Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson, currently leads the organization. In 2017, during the return celebration of the iconic double-hulled canoe, Hōkūle‘a, to Honolulu from its worldwide Mālama Honua voyage, Laura was honored with the Society’s Navigators Award for her years of dedication, leadership and support.
Laura committed much of her time and energy supporting organizations dedicated to animals, nature, and a range of cultural and community interests. She advised and served on the boards of Alu Like, Mālama Maunalua, Maunalua Fishpond Heritage Center, Hawaiian Humane Society, American Humane Society, Latham Foundation, Papa Ola Lōkahi, The Nature Conservancy, Hui Nalu Canoe Club, Hawai‘i Nature Center, The Outdoor Circle, YWCA, Pālama Settlement, The Zoo Hui, and others.
In 2013, Laura provided substantial support to CCH to help save and advocate for the ‘Īlio-holo- i-ka-uaua, of Hawaiian Monk Seal. On August 9, 2013, Laura and former CCH President Hannah Kihalani Springer hosted the successful CCH Monk Seal Gala, ‘’He Hawai‘i Au,” in support of the ‘Īlio-holo-i-ka-uaua and CCH. This event led to the production of CCH’s Monk Seal Educational Poster, the formulation of the Hawaiian Monk Seal working group in response to the intentional killing of monk seals, and a series of PSAs to educate the public about this critically endangered species.
In 2016, Laura played a key role in another of CCH’s successful initiatives, helping to sign on the Polynesian Voyaging Society as an educational group at the first annual Manu O Kū Festival. This festival has since become a well-established and free event put on by CCH, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Hui Manu O Kū, and engages the public with educational and craft activities, hula, speeches, a costume contest, and bird tours every summer. The Thompson ‘ohana were also active participants at the 2nd annual Manu O Kū Festival in 2017, with Laura’s daughter-in-law Kathy Muneno writing an article on the event in our Kōlea Volume 67.
In 2018, we found ourselves working alongside Laura yet again on the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. She and Marjorie Ziegler, CCH’s then Executive Director, became leading advocates and organizers for the Monument’s expansion. Laura advised and supported CCH, and so many other organizations, with a meaningful and loving disposition. We felt honored whenever we heard from her. She will be graciously remembered by the CCH and NWF ‘ohana.
Laura is preceded in death by her husband Myron “Pinky” Thompson, and is survived by sons, Myron and Nainoa, daughter Lita, 7 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
Aloha ‘oe and rest in love, dear Laura.
CCH has partnered with several artists over the years to share Hawaiʻi’s native plants, animals, and ecosystems through art.
This year, Patrick Ching created this beautiful piece for our Seabird Campaign, highlighting the ʻuaʻu, ʻaʻo, and ʻake ʻake.
Welcome Our New Board of Directors
CCH’s long standing success has been upheld by the expertise, strength and steadfastness of our board members. During each Annual Meeting, we vote on prospective board Member nominees. This year we are excited to welcome three new members to the CCH Board, with three year terms beginning on January 1, 2021.
Bret Nainoa Mossman
Bret is the Avian Technician for the Hawai’i Island Natural Area Reserve System. He has strong experience with native Hawaiian forest birds, seabirds, and natural resources management. Bret has volunteered with a variety of organizations, including the Hawaiʻi Wildlife Centers’ Hawaiʻi Island Festival of Birds, the Friends of Hakalau, and Audubon societies on the mainland. He has experience with successful social media campaigns and fundraising for conservation, and we are looking forward to his input on CCH’s science, advocacy and community engagement efforts. Bret has an undergraduate degree in wildlife ecology and management from Utah State University and is currently finishing his masters’ degree in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, studying ākiapōlāʻau.
Colleen Kelley Heyer
Born and raised in Honolulu, Colleen has always loved being in the ocean, especially surfing and canoe paddling. A graduate of Punahou School (‘82), she earned her bachelor’s of business degree on the mainland. Upon returning home, she was a loan officer at Bank of Hawai‘i before becoming a full time homemaker to her three kids. Colleen was an active Hawaiian Monk Seal response volunteer for 15 years, teaching visitors, community members, and kids how to coexist with and be good stewards of monk seals. Colleen helped develop the foundational structure of the Hawaiʻi Monk Seal Response Team and was part of their original leadership. Colleen is passionate about all things environmental, including our unique Hawaiian ecosystem from monk seals to the Manu O Kū nesting in her yard. We are excited for Colleen to bring her experience to CCH.
Karl Magnacca has an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from Cornell. He is an entomologist with the Oʻahu Army Natural Resources Program, conducts research as a research associate at Bishop Museum and provides scientific consulting services. He grew up in New England, and developed an interest in insects at an early age. Since coming to Hawaiʻi in 1994, Karl has worked on a wide variety of projects including surveying, monitoring and managing endangered Drosophila flies, Hylaeus bees, and Megalagrion damselflies. He also has expertise in the biodiversity and taxonomy of native and non-native insects across native and non-native habitats in Hawaiʻi. We are looking forward to adding Karlʻs native species expertise and interest to our board.