Monday | April 27, 2015
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Several Easter events planned at Hilo Coast UCC

It’s Palm Sunday and everyone is invited to join Hilo Coast United Church of Christ (UCC) in the observance of Holy Week and Easter.

A Good Friday Tenebrae service is slated for 6 p.m. at Hilo Coast UCC in Honomu, just off Highway 19 at mile marker 13.

There will be an Easter Sunrise Service at the World Botanical Gardens at Umauma (Highway 19, mile marker 16) beginning at 6 a.m. Follow the signs to the parking area; transportation to the service site will be provided.

A second Easter service at 10 a.m. will be hosted at Hilo Coast UCC. Pastor Linda Petrucelli will deliver the message of God’s boundless love. An Easter egg hunt will follow the service.

Hawaii’s Biggest Easter Egg Hunt is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, April 19, at the King’s Chapel Honokaa Property across from Tex Drive-In. Will you be able to find one of the 10,000 eggs that will be around? Come for the games, prizes, live puppets, fun, food and, of course, Bunny Easterly.


The Kohala Center’s “The Leaflet” March/April 2014 issue shares this story about the Hawaiian native duck, koloa.

The Kohala Watershed Partnership is well-known for its efforts to preserve the rare plants and threatened ecosystems of the Kohala Mountain watershed. As a result of recent grant funding, the Partnership will also add wildlife conservation to its list of endeavors, as it works with partner Laupahoehoe Nui LLC to protect the local habitat of koloa maoli, an endangered species of duck native to the Hawaiian Islands. Funding from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be applied toward the Upper Laupahoehoe Nui Watershed Reserve fencing project, with the specific intention of protecting the ducks’ habitat.

This grant sets the precedent for recognizing KWP’s habitat restoration initiatives as critical to native wildlife protection.

More than 10 other native species of duck already are extinct, making the koloa maoli the only surviving endemic duck in Hawaii. In 2002, the last time an official count was taken, the koloa maoli had a population of 2,200 individuals in the entire state; only 200 of those individuals were found on Hawaii Island. A more recent study of the ducks in the Lalakea watershed on Kohala Mountain found an average of 6.6 ducks per stream mile.

The largest threat faced by these endangered birds is genetic hybridization with the introduced mallard duck. When koloa ducks interbreed with mallard ducks, they produce hybrid ducks neither genetically classified as mallard nor koloa.

Conservationists worry the exposure of koloa duck populations to mallards will result in the loss of a genetically pure species of koloa. There are few, if any, mallards on Kohala Mountain, so the population of koloa in north Hawaii Island is less susceptible to genetic adulteration than ducks elsewhere, making it a very important population to protect.

Despite the lack of genetic variation on Kohala Mountain, the koloa maoli are still threatened by diseases such as botulism, invasive predators, including mongoose and rats, and habitat loss.

The koloa habitat consists of pools and streams found within the native Kohala wetlands, one of the last mountain wetland ecosystems remaining in Hawaii. The ducks particularly like waterfall-pool-waterfall complexes, which are abundant in the Upper Laupahoehoe Nui Watershed Reserve. In fact, 25 miles of streams — all potential duck habitat — have been recorded in the reserve.

KWP coordinator Melora Purell was “blown away” by the miles of streams once they were mapped.

“For every stream shown on our previous map, there were at least three more too small to be recorded,” Purrell said.

Currently, the wetland habitat is threatened by feral pigs, which trample and uproot native vegetation, and by invasive weeds, such as Himalayan ginger, which can completely alter the structure of the ecosystem.

The NAWCA grant will help KWP complete the fence around the watershed reserve, setting off a conservation chain reaction.

“The fence will help us protect the watershed and its forest from destructive feral pigs and invasive weeds, consequently protecting the streams in the watershed, which will in turn help protect the birds that use those streams,” Purell said.

The koloa habitat found in the Kohala wetlands also is expected to be a refuge for the ducks in anticipation of projected climate change. Scientists predict warmer temperatures and decreased rainfall in many of the current and lower-elevation duck habitats. Depressional wetlands and stock ponds dried up in recent years, and the trend is predicted to continue.

The higher elevation, windward, wetland streams and pools of Kohala will be less susceptible to these changes, providing a healthy, intact habitat for the ducks.

In addition to habitat protection, KWP also plans to set up game cameras at different streams and pools in order to record the koloa in their habitat.

There isn’t much data about how many ducks exist or their behavior in the wild.

KWP intends to share this information with other researchers and collaborators working to protect the koloa. For example, Linda Elliott, president and director of the Hawaii Wildlife Center, hopes the game camera footage will shed light on the ducks’ feeding behaviors, interactions with other species and the threat of predation.

According to Elliott, koloa maoli are “amazing birds, great parents, and loyal mates … those that get to see koloa in the wild are very fortunate, and we can hope that future generations will see more of them.”

To reach the Kokua Way, email or call Carol on her cellphone at 936-0067.


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