We are ripe in the middle of summer and we all know that summer can be some of the hottest and driest days around the globe. On the Leeward side of the Big Island, North Kona is known for its arid conditions and barren landscape. Also home to one of the last remaining native dryland forest ecosystems across the Hawaiian islands is Nāpuʻu. Nāpuʻu comprises of Puʻuanahulu and Puʻuwaʻawaʻa ahupuaʻa. In this area live many rare and endangered native species that are found no where else in the world and fire is one of the biggest threats to their survival and has the potential to be very detrimental to the native biodiversity and the people who live in this region. It is also important to note that the driest part of Puʻuwaʻawaʻa is Kīholo, which sits along the coastline. Kīholo is a State Park with public camping sites. Due to higher traffic and more human activity - it is crucial to follow guidelines and simple rules when making campfires. Fire can have many negative impacts to the environment and can effect our wahi pana from mauka to makai. The region of Nāpuʻu has also been through serious droughts over the last couple of decades and scientific data shows that the frequency, duration, and intensity have increased over the last century. Did you know that more than 98% of fires in Hawaiʻi are human caused? The other 2% are from natural causes such as lightening, volcanic activity, and other rare occurrences. So what can we do to be akamai about fires? It all starts with awareness, being careful when we conduct ourselves in hire risk areas, and sharing this information with others. Here are some tips from the DLNR and HWMO on being fire smart.
Clear away 10 feet of vegetation from campfires and barbeques. Keep a shovel and water close by. Never leave the fire unattended. Leave the coals cold before walking away. (Check out the video above for camping tips and how-to's.)
Don't park cars over dry grass and vegetation. Heat from exhaust can ignite dry grass.
Maintain machinery and equipment regularly (chainsaws, weed trimmers, vehicles, etc.)
Create a fire free zone (>5 ft.) around your home. Remove all vegetation and debris that can ignite easily. Plant fire wise plants like aloe and bromeliads that have a high moisture content and won't spread fire.
For more tips and information I encourage you to visit Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) and DLNR. To read more about drought and climate conditions at Puʻuwaʻawaʻa and in Hawaiʻi please visit the Climate Adaption Science Center.
Be safe and prevent wildfires.