Friends of Hakalau Forest
National Wildlife Refuge
Winter 2019-2020 Newsletter
Presidents' Perch Winter 2019-2020

J.B. Friday
President, Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge
In This Issue



What Does a Refuge Biologist Do?

Teaching Change

New Board Nominees

Annual Meeting

Thanks to our 2019 Donors, Members and
Aloha and Happy New Year.

It has been a great relief that the Maunakea access road, and with it access to Mana Road and the Refuge, has been re-opened to the public for the first time since July. Refuge staff and volunteers are again able to drive directly to the Refuge without passing through checkpoints and making prior arrangements. Whatever one's position on the telescopes on Maunakea, restoring the native Hawaiian forest and protecting Hawaii's birds should be something on which we can all agree.

We hope that many of you can make our annual Membership Meeting, held 10:00 am Saturday January 25th at the USDA Forest Service Institute of Pacific Island Forestry conference room at 60 Nowelo St. in Hilo. In addition to reports from the Friends president and Tom Cady, Refuge Manager, we will hear from Steve Kendall, Refuge Biologist, on his work monitoring and managing the native forest birds and their habitats. We will also be electing a board for 2020. Only members are allowed to vote, but we will be accepting membership applications at the door if you want to renew or sign up a friend! Please take a moment to look over the biographical sketches for the new nominees in this newsletter. We will also have Friends t-shirts for sale at the meeting.

Meetings and bookkeeping not your thing? We are also looking for members to help out in various ways other than serving on the board. There have been several opportunities for experienced volunteers to lead trips to the Refuge in the past year. While we have had a website (, Facebook page (, and Flicker group ( for years, we could use fresh input. Or maybe someone would like to create a Friends of Hakalau Forest Instagram account? Lots of great Hakalau photos out there, and it's a way for people who aren't in Hawai'i to keep in touch with the Refuge.

Hope to see many of you on January 25th, or up to the Refuge!
Refuge Manager’s update – Fall 2019

Donna Ball
Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex interim Deputy Manager

Aloha Friends of Hakalau Refuge
Donna Ball is detailing in the Deputy Wildlife Refuge Manager position during the month of December. She has 28 years experience with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawai'i.

For the past 13 years she has worked as a Conservation Partnerships biologist for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office in Hilo. Her partnership work has been focused on working with private landowners, native Hawaiian organizations, community groups, and state, and federal partners to maximize benefits to native fish and wildlife and their habitats.

Prior to her Conservation Partnerships work, she was a refuge biologist at both the Kona and Hakalau Refuge units from 1998-2006 and was the USFWS Field crew leader for 'alala reintroduction efforts in Kona from 1993-1998.
In her early USFWS career she worked on Tern and Laysan island as well as on Maunakea conducting palila life history studies.

Most of Donna's career has been spent working on endangered bird reintroduction and conservation projects. In addition to her work in Hawaii she has worked with bald eagles in the Channel islands, Kokako on the North island of New Zealand, and with Puerto Rican Parrots in the El Yunque National Forest of Puerto Rico.
What does a Refuge Biologist do?

Steve Kendall
Big Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex Refuge Biologist

So what does the Refuge Biologist do?

Well, honestly there’s a lot of time behind computer answering e-mails and data calls, along with lots of meetings. That’s all important stuff to track what is happening at the Refuge and foster the many partnerships that allow us to accomplish our mission, but that’s not what you want hear about. You want the “fun” on-the-ground stuff. My official Position Description is quite lengthy and a bit dry. It all can be boiled down to; I am responsible the Refuge’s biological program. Key aspects include providing biological advice to management, working with partners, developing and implementing biological studies, analyzing and reporting the results of these studies, etc.  So what does THAT mean in terms of day to day activities?
I lead a variety of surveys to monitor refuge resources. Since Hakalau is all about forest birds one of the primary surveys is the annual forest bird survey. These have been conducted each spring at the Hakalau Forest Unit since 1988 and irregularly at the Kona Forest Unit since 1995. Data from these surveys are used to monitor population trends of birds. We depend heavily on partners from other agencies, other Fish and Wildlife Service offices and skilled private citizens to complete the survey. Starting at dawn, we hike to previously established survey points laid out along transects. At each station we tally all of the birds that we can detect by sound and sight in an eight minute period. As if that isn’t enough of a challenge we also need to record the distance to each bird while taking care to not count birds more than once. Then before we move on, we do a rapid habitat assessment. The survey data are then plugged in to models that can tell us the density/populations of birds. We have not summarized the data for Hakalau in several years and are seeking funding to do that soon. However, the last analysis showed that most native forest birds had increasing or stable populations at the Hakalau Unit of the Refuge.  
Another important survey is the biannual ungulate and weed survey. Again, we assemble a large group of partners to help us out. These surveys are conducted along the same transects as the forest bird surveys, but for this survey we record any feral ungulate sign (digging, trails, scat, etc.) that is observed in a series of contiguous plots spanning the length of the transects.  We also record the percent cover of priority weed species (gorse, Florida blackberry, English holly, banana poka and Photinia) observed in the plots. The ungulate data are plugged in to a model to estimate the pig populations in each management unit and weed data are summarized in GIS to show the distribution of weeds. The last survey was conducted in August 2019. The good news is that pig populations are decreasing in most units and are at zero in a few units. The bad news is that there still are pigs in several of the units.
Recently, another key survey being conducted at both Units of the refuge is surveillance for the presence of Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD). We work with partners for the State Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISSC) and U. S. Forest Service (USFS). Aerial surveys (via helicopter) are flown 2-4 times/year by DOFAW crews to identify potentially infected trees. We then go out with BIISC crews to locate the trees on the ground. It can be amazingly difficult to find these trees, as the coordinates from the helicopter can be off by dozens of meters and seeing a dead tree in a dense canopy, especially when backlit or in foggy conditions is near impossible. Thus far, we have sampled nearly 50 trees at the Hakalau Forest Unit and over 80 trees at Kona Forest Unit. None have come back Ceratocystis positive for the Hakalau Unit, but we have found fifteen Ceratocystsis huliohia and seven C. lukuohia positive trees at the Kona Forest Unit. There are several positive trees at the boundary of the Hakalau Unit, so we will continue monitoring at both units. Once we find positive trees, we then evaluate if additional management actions, such cutting the trees down, should be taken. I also work with USFS crews to establish ROD monitoring plots at many of the positive trees to track the spread of the disease and the condition of other nearby trees. 
The final responsibility I’d like to discuss is protection and monitoring of nēnē populations. Nēnē were introduced to the refuge in the 1990s and since then approximately 130 or so birds return each winter to breed. Not all of the birds nest each year, but we usually end up with 30 to 40 nests. A key component of the successful breeding is controlling predators. Each year I hire a Kupu Service Member to help with predator trapping; locating and monitoring nests and broods; and tracking all the birds at the Refuge. We also get assistance from U.S. Army staff as part of their mitigation for any nēnē take during operations at the base. The numbers of goslings that make it to fledging varies dramatically, in most years around a dozen goslings survive to fly off, but last year we had a record 45 goslings make it.
There are many other projects that I am responsible for, such as collecting habitat data to track the recovery of forests at the refuge, monitoring out-plantings, and tracking the effectiveness of weed and ungulate control work. I also work with an array of research partners studying everything from reforestation to forest bird demographics and am responsible for issuing permits that authorized them to work on the Refuge. This requires reviewing applications and proposals to determine if studies are well design and meet the purposes, conservation objectives and needs of the Refuge. I also supervise our Pest Control Worker crew, the ones doing the hard work in field to control invasive animal and plants.
. Additionally, one of the more rewarding things I do is working with Teaching Change and ʻImi Pono no ka ʻĀina to get local kids in the field to learn about the unique ecosystems on their Island. 

There is not enough space to cover everything here. Please come to my presentation at January Friends meeting if you would like to learn more.

  I feel very fortunate to work in such a beautiful place as Hakalau and to be able to play a role in protecting and conserving the extraordinary flora and fauna found there. A strenuous day of hiking through rough terrain and in pouring rain, always beats a day in the office, no matter how cold, wet and dirty I am at the end of the day.
Teaching Change : Fostering Connection to Place in Local Youth at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge 
In Hawaiʻi and around the world, humans face complex and challenging sustainability problems that call for innovative interdisciplinary solutions. The Teaching Change program leverages a highly successful youth education program that implements biocultural, immersive, place-based STEM learning to address program goals to: (i) foster a connection to place through immersive, outdoor learning, (ii) increase environmental literacy through project-based/hands-on learning and (iii); inform and inspire local youth about careers in Hawaiʻi within the fields of conservation and natural resource management in via career-connected learning opportunities.
To create a connection to place, we bring students to Hakalau Forest NWR, a model location for students to develop an appreciation and greater understanding of Hawaiian ecosystems. Teaching Change has been implementing two-day, one-night Field Courses at Hakalau Forest NWR for over eight years now. During overnight Field Courses, students learn about native and endangered Hawaiian birds from the refuge biologist, Steve Kendall, go on a birdwatching hike, outplant native trees as part of the refuge’s restoration plan, partake in climate change activities and discussions, learn how to identify native plants, collect phenology data on native trees, observe their surroundings through kilo (Hawaiian value of careful observation), and learn about Inoa wahi pana (names of ‘pulsing’ or sacred places). One of the highlights of the program is that phenology data collected by students has been recorded in the National Phenology Network database since the program’s inception, making each student part of a larger citizen science effort to track the response of plants to a changing climate.
Teaching Change is proud to offer an array of activities and events to the Hawaiʻi Island community with the help of strong and diverse partnerships, including Hakalau Forest NWR, the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, the Akaka Foundation for Tropical Forests, and the Pacific Internship Program for Exploring Science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Through these partnerships Teaching Change provides community events that reach hundreds to thousands of students in one day, as well as high quality Field Courses that serve ~10-15 students at a time, and Teacher Training Workshops for local teachers to learn about outdoor, immersive curricula. Since 2011, Teaching Change has reached 750 students via an annual BioCultural Blitz, almost 8,000 students at an annual Conservation Career Day, over 1,200 students on overnight Field Courses, over 500 students during day Field Courses, and 75 teachers via Teacher Training Workshops, totaling a reach of over 10,600 participants!

To learn more about the Teaching Change program, please read our recently published article in Scientia by clicking this link:  Teaching Change: Bioculturally Grounded, Place-based, Environmental Education in Hawaiʻi.

Meet Blaire and Rebekah who run the daily functions of the Teaching Change program.
Program Coordinator Blaire Langston.
Program Director Rebekah Ohara  

New Board Nominees

The nominating committee nominates the following slate for the 5 openings on the board. Three are incumbents : JB Friday, Creighton Litton, and George Robertson. The two new nominees are Debbie Anderson and Denise Antonili.
Debbie Anderson
Debbie Anderson grew up on a small farm in rural New Zealand, and received a First Class Honors undergraduate degree in Zoology, writing her thesis on the country’s endemic mosquito. Upon moving to Hawai`i after graduation, she worked at the Bishop Museum for several years before entering the business world. After receiving her MBA from the University of Hawai`i, Debbie worked for several ad agencies and ultimately founded Destination Marketing Hawai`i in 1998. Her company represents key national and international publishing houses in Hawai`i. Debbie has been involved with the travel industry in Hawai`i for more than 35 years, and has expertise in developing innovative marketing programs for partners throughout the islands. She was instrumental in the launch of Travel Weekly’s successful Hawai`i Leadership Forum, now in its 20 th year. Debbie was honored as the AAAH’s Media Person of the Year in 2004. 

Debbie is creative and innovative; most recently co-founding the Hawai`i Island Coast-to-Coast Birding Trail, and the successful Hawai`i Island Festival of Birds with Rob Pacheco, drawing visitors to the Island from across the island, throughout the state and the mainland. The 4 th annual Hawai`i Island Festival of Birds will be held October 15-20, 2020.  
Denise Antolini
Denise Antolini is a Professor of Law and has served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs since 2011. She joined the Law School faculty in 1996 and directed the nationally recognized Environmental Law Program for several years.She served on the State Water Commission and Nominating Committee, the inaugural Chair of the Honolulu City Council’s Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission, past Chair of the State Environmental Council, and past Chair of the Hawai`i State Bar Association's Natural Resources Section. Her courses have included torts, environmental law, environmental litigation, domestic ocean and coastal law,

Dean Antolini lives on Oʻahu's rural North Shore in the ahupuaʻa of Pūpūkea. She is a founding and current member of the North Shore Community Land Trust (advisory board), Save Waimea Valley Coalition, Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea (President, 2005-present), and Save Sharks Cove Alliance.

And most importantly, she has been bringing Law School Students, alumni and friends to Hakalau annually for over 16 years. 

60 Nowelo ST
Refreshments available before the meeting - coffee, tea and pastries

Short business meeting and reports

Election of Board Members 

Refuge update by Tom Cady
Presentation by Steve Kendall - "What the heck does a Refuge Biologist Do?"

T-shirts will be sold before the meeting in a variety of colors and sizes:
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
View the new Friends Display - "Endangered Honeycreepers of Hakalau Forest"

Mahalo to Jack Jeffrey for the fantastic photos, Charlie Walsh and Alice Taylor for the layout and editing, Steve Montgomery for the long horned beetles, Sheila Conant for suggesting bird facts, and Pat Hart and Steve Kendall for their help in editing the bird facts.

Pick up a new Friends sticker for your car or water bottle.

Thank you!! Thank you!! 
2019 donors, sponsors, members and volunteers
$1000 and above
Shingle Family Trust
Endowment: Cheney K., Godsey Charitable Trust, Mainzer, Trisons Foundation Inc., Anonymous
Corporate $250 -$999
                Flavell, Kona AdventureTours/Knight, Leigh & Gilmartin, Littlejohn, March Conservation Fund, Network For Good, Niklass & Dunrose
Endowment: Cheney L., Drake, Frank, Green, Kupchak, Lowder, Lum, Rush

Sponsor $100-$249
               Anderson, Arrigoni, Barton, Belcher, Brown, Butchart, Corcoran, Denslow Charitable Fund, Hackell, Hong, Imoto, Kawamata, Kendall, Kiel-Jones, Kikuta, Kuali’i, Litton, Martel, Munro, Nelson, Oahu Nature Tours, Paxton, Pope, Reeve, Roby, Romero, Sakamoto, Schwenne, Sheriff J., Sheriff S., Shingle, Skrocki, Snetsinger, Spears, Vierra, Wilcox, Williams, Yoshida.
                Endowment: Donaldson, Foerster, Garton, Jackson, Kepler, McMurray, Talpas, Turner, Ware, Wizinowich, YYES Co.     

There were hundreds of volunteers working days, weekends and weeks making an impact. Every dollar and every volunteer hour helps!  Mahalo nui loa for your continuing support.
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.

   J.B. Friday
Vice President
   Rob Shallenberger
   Patrick Hart
   Cathy Lowder

 Members at large
   Kenneth Kupchak
   Creighton Litton
   Eben Paxton
   Patricia Richardson
   George Robertson
   Don Romero
   Mike Scott   
   Lisa Hadway Spain