September 4, 2010 – Pahoa, Hawaii

Video by David Corrigan

A divided community met in Pahoa to discuss the recent poisoning of invasive mangroves along some Hawaii shores.

The meeting, called by Mayor Billy Kenoi and tightly moderated by executive assistant Hunter Bishop, gave supporters and opponents of the project a chance to articulate their position in a public forum. Residents were also given the opportunity to comment.

The poisoning is part of an ongoing red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle) eradication project spearheaded by the environmental group Malama o Puna, and has killed large swaths of targeted trees at the Wai` Opae Marine Life Conservation District, Isaac Hale Beach Park at Pohoiki, and Onekahakaha beach park in Hilo.

The County of Hawaii, Big Island Invasive Species Council, U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife, Hawaii Department of Health and Hawaii Tourism Authority have partnered with Malama o Puna in the project, which the county says employs an approved herbicide and manual means of eradication.

However, the county says a number of residents have expressed concerns that the approval process for application of the herbicide to remove the red mangrove did not require a public hearing prior to the start of the project. Syd Singer, known for his passionate defense of certain invasive species, opposed the project, especially for its failure to first conduct an environmental assessment. Malamo o Puna says the law did not require a EA for the type of eradication they were conducting. Singer’s legal challenge to the project is currently pending in Third Circuit Court.

Community comments on mangrove eradication project

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(August 31, 2010 – Pahoa, Hawaii)

Members of the Puna community voice their opinion during a special meeting in Pahoa. Residents are divided over the issue of mangrove eradication along the coast.

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Malama o Puna talks about mangrove eradication project

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(August 31, 2010 – Pahoa, Hawaii)

Malama o Puna representatives Rene Siracusa, Ann Kobsa, and Nohealani Casperson give their closing remarks at the community mangrove meeting.

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Syd Singer gives his closing remarks

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(August 31, 2010 – Pahoa, Hawaii)

Syd Singer, who stands in opposition to the mangrove poisoning and says that an EA – in the very least -needs to be conducted first, gives his closing remarks at the Pahoa community meeting.

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Mayor wraps up the community mangrove meeting

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(August 31, 2010 – Pahoa, Hawaii)

Mayor Billy Kenoi, who called the community meeting and has not publicly taken a stance on the mangrove eradication effort, ends the event with a speech reminding residents about the importance of having a respectful dialog on the divisive issue.

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