HWMO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to education, outreach and technical assistance, project implementation, and research focused on wildfire prevention, mitigation and post-fire recovery in Hawaii and the Pacific. All of our projects are grounded in a collaborative effort that involves partners ranging from first responders, land managers, researchers, communities and any others who want to be part of the collaborative. Although we have a small staff, HWMO is continually able to accomplish a number of projects due to its extensive partnerships. We can’t say it enough: by staying in communication with their partners on each project, and expanding partnerships where needed, we are able to ensure our projects stay grounded and effective.
HWMO was officially founded in 2000 by a group of South Kohala/North Kona regional experts who wanted to create a non-profit organization to serve as an arm for the fire suppression and land management agencies to conduct prevention, pre-suppression, and post-fire work. We became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2002. Since then, we have grown to not only address wildfire issues for all of Hawaii Island, but also the entire state and some of the Western Pacific (namely Yap, Palau, Guam).
Statewide Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs)
Through a collaborative process involving input from community members, resource management and firefighting agencies, and a variety of other interested parties, CWPPs help bring wildfire hazard information and planning and action opportunities to all parties. These plans are increasingly important in Hawaii, which faces unique wildfire threats that are becoming more challenging due to increasing ignitions, drought episodes and land use changes. Wildfires have great impacts on Hawaii's residents and natural resources, affecting:
• Daily life (road closures, traffic, evacuations, post-fire flooding, tax-payer dollars)
• Human health and safety (dust, smoke, water quality, burned homes and structures, resident and firefighter safety)
• Ecosystem health and resilience (watersheds, forests, coral reefs, fisheries)
HWMO has completed (or is currently working on) CWPPs for the following areas (refer to the map on the left for details):
Kaui County: Kauai (entire island)
Honolulu County: Western Oahu
Maui County: Western Maui, South Maui, Upcountry Maui, Molokai
Hawaii County: Northwest Hawaii Island, North Kona, South Kona, Ocean View, Kau, Volcano
There is one CWPP that was not completed by HWMO and is likely outdated:
Old plans in the process of being updated, to be completed by December 2016:
Kauai, Northwest Hawaii Island, South Kona, Ocean View, Kau, Volcano
New plans being developed, to be completed by July 2016:
Western Oahu, Molokai, South Maui, Upcountry Maui, North Kona
Trough the CWPP process, we have learned a great deal about what stakeholders needs are in each area. With this knowledge, we are then able to work with existing and new partners to design and execute new, grounded and effective projects.
Our vision is to cover the entire State of Hawaii by CWPPs, but at least for now, nearly all of our high priority areas (determined by statewide community hazard assessments we put together with our partners) will have a CWPP covering it by the end of 2016!
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Firewise Communities Recognition Program Assistance
We are currently working with communities statewide with Firewise Community Certification assistance. We are federal funded through the U.S. Forest Service WUI grant to help certify at least 10 communities become Firewise.
As of 2015, we had our first Firewise Community success: Kanehoa subdivision in Waimea, Hawaii Island. We are working with others to achieve similar goals: Waialea, Waikii Ranch, Puako on Hawaii Island; Pii Lani Mai and Ke Kai (Anahola Hawaiian Homes) on Kauai; Kula Hawaiian Homes and Launiupoko on Maui; and finally Palehua on Oahu. HWMO aims to assist at least 10 communities across the state to become Firewise during 2016.
We view the Firewise Communities process as a great way to get communities to start banding together on a common goal: wildfire protection at the community level. In the long-run, we envision these communities drawing in new partners every year, working towards the grander goal of becoming a Fire Adapted Community.
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Statewide School Outreach Program
Over the past few years, we have continued to strengthen and expand our school outreach program, incorporating national programs such as Ready, Set, Go! in our efforts. We are currently funded to take our outreach program statewide, working with students of all ages to empower them to take action. We have a number of education programs, based on a curriculum we created in 2012. Our school outreach ranges from school-wide presentations to in-class instruction and activities to outdoor hands-on learning at our Waikoloa Dryland Wildfire Safety Park. The park is a Firewise demo garden where we are showcasing native and adapted plants as a way to create defensible space around the home. We have held a number of events, including Wildfire Prep Days, where we invite our local partners to share the space as an wildfire outreach zone. Throughout the years, we have worked with the Malama Kai Foundation's Ocean Warriors program, an environmental education group focused on youth empowerment. These students are the "stewards" of the garden every year - they first learn the ins and outs of what it takes to become a Fire Adapted Community. Once they have a solid understanding, they help us share this information with the broader community through Wildfire Prep Day events and even community showcases. Most recently, they performed a play we put together to launch our new mascot, Kaleo the Pueo, to the public and share the importance of fire prevention and working collaboratively to protect the community from wildfire.
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