- The Hawaii County Council voted to pass an amended Resolution 516-16 during its meeting in Hilo today (Tuesday May 17) urging state and local governments to take appropriate steps to prevent the further spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death on the Big Island. The measure was introduced by Puna councilman Greggor Ilagan.
- The resolution was amended to include language urging the Governor to declare a state of emergency on Hawaii Island due to the spread of the disease.
- The resolution was also translated into the Hawaiian language with respect to the Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners being asked to advise the county moving forward.
- Hilo councilmembers Dennis Onishi and Aaron Chung recently met with Governor David Ige and other administration officials on Oahu. Onishi said the governor was considering the emergency declaration but he wanted to know what federal resources would be provided as a result. A decision could be made in about a month, Onishi said.
- A third amendment advocates for the hiring of an arborist to help contain the disease. Councilmembers who recently met with Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi said that mayor supports hiring an arborist under the Department of Public Works to help fight the spread of ROD. The county also plans to purchase a mobile incinerator, which would be used to properly dispose of infected trees on private property.
Experts say 35,000 acres of native ‘Ōhi‘a have been stricken by the the vascular wilt fungus, Ceratocystis fimbriata. Scientists are still learning about the disease, as Hawaii Island struggles to create an effective game plan to counter the spread.