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    Navy Region Hawaiiʻs On-Going Environmental Stewardship Mission

    NMFS and NAVFAC Hawaii Sea Turtle Tagging Project

    Photo By Melvin J Gonzalvo | Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) staff complete telemetry tagging of...... read more read more

    HAWAII, UNITED STATES

    04.12.2024

    Courtesy Story

    Commander Navy Region Hawaii

    The professionals working throughout Navy Region Hawaii understand there is a balance to strike between supporting the afloat and ashore warfighters and the mission of protecting and maintaining the natural resources on and around the installations. The U.S. Congress recognized the need for this balance in the 1960s when it passed the Sikes Act, which called for service branches under the Department of Defense to establish a program to manage natural resources on their military bases.

    The Endangered Species Act, enacted in 1973, provided additional guidance by defining which fish, wildlife and plants in all 50 states should be safe guarded. Navy installations in Hawaii continue to do their part to protect the environment. In honor of Earth Month, we highlight some of those ongoing efforts.

    Pacific Missile Range Facility
    • 2023 REPI Challenge -- The Department of Defense announced the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF,) Barking Sands, on the island of Kauai will participate in the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program alongside other military services to work in close collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF.) This partnership is to protect and enhance native habitats that support conservation and climate resilience. NFWF is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit that protects and restores imperiled species, promotes healthy oceans and estuaries, improves working landscapes for wildlife, advances sustainable fisheries, and conserves water for wildlife and people. Read more at https://www.repi.mil/Portals/44/Documents/REPI_Challenge/2023%20REPI%20Challenge/2023%20REPI%20Challenge%20Package.pdf.

    • Albatross Relocation -- The environmental team at PMRF has been working with the Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard initiative to conduct the annual Laysan Albatross Translocation Program. The translocation project allows biologists to relocate albatross eggs to other areas on the islands of Kauai and Oahu. Tessa Broholm, a wildlife biologist with U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, works with the base on this program.
    “A primary concern out here at PMRF is the birds that use the airspace surrounding the airfield,” said Broholm. “One of those is the Laysan Albatross, which is a large-bodied bird with a wing span of up to six feet, which could be catastrophic for pilots and aircraft.” If the eggs hatch elsewhere, the hope is that they will return to those other, safer areas where they hatched, when they are ready to nest.

    Albatross form an attachment to their nest rather than the egg, so they will raise any chick hatched from an egg, as long as the egg is in their nest. This means eggs can be relocated off PMRF without risk of the chick being abandoned. By collecting and moving the eggs, the number of birds on the installation is reduced, but the overall population is not harmed. Read more at https://cnrh.cnic.navy.mil/News/News-Detail/Article/3651052/egg-squisite-translocation/.

    • Nene at PMRF -- New infrastructure and invasive predators introduced to Hawaii over time were factors that contributed to the nene population dropping to roughly 30 birds in the 1950s, according to the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. With the help of state-wide conservation efforts, the birds have made a significant comeback with as many as 637 individual nene documented on PMRF alone. The Hawaiian nene is Hawaii’s state bird and is currently considered endangered by the state of Hawaii. Read more at https://cnrh.cnic.navy.mil/News/News-Detail/Article/3651185/nurturing-nene/.

    • Green Sea Turtles -- Green sea turtles nest on beaches in the general area of where they had hatched years earlier. The shoreline at PMRF is ideal for nests since it is a protected and quiet location with limited human activity and light pollution. Turtle nesting season in Hawaii runs from mid-April to September, but it can extend into December. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

    • Green Sea Turtles -- Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries, also known as the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (NMFS PIFSC) attached satellite transmitters to the shells of green (honu) and hawksbill (honu’ea) sea turtles in Pearl Harbor to begin collecting data about their daily behaviors and movements to understand and reverse declining population trends.

    The telemetry tagging effort is part of a 10-year Interagency Agreement between Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii and the NMFS PIFSC. The joint program is being funded by the Navy and is the first ever turtle tagging study to document the movements and ranges of endangered sea turtles in Pearl Harbor. Read more at https://cnrh.cnic.navy.mil/News/News-Detail/Article/3677512/tagging-project-aids-in-endangered-sea-turtle-conservation/.

    • Aquatic Invasive Species -- The Navy is actively working to stop the spread of two aquatic invasive species that pose a threat to the local maritime ecosystem. Since last summer, the Navy has cleared more than 33,850 square feet – nearly three-fourths of the area of a football field – of fast-growing soft corals, known as octocorals, which were first observed near Bishop Point at the mouth of the channel to the base. Working with federal and state agencies, the Navy is finding success with two methods to remove these harmful octocorals from the environment.

    The two octocoral species that were discovered, Unomia stolonifera and Capnella spicata, are not native to Hawaii waters but are considered by subject matter experts to be popular with aquarium enthusiasts. However, the pulsating soft corals are not legal to own in home aquariums in Hawaii.

    “As reef-building corals become more stressed from ocean temperature rise, they become more vulnerable and less able to compete with non-native introduced species like the fast growing, predator-free octocorals,” explained Nicole Olmsted, Navy Region Hawaii conservation manager.

    Since last summer, Navy divers have removed by hand about 19,956 square feet, or just under half an acre, of invasive soft coral. According to Olmsted, the challenge with this method is the divers must be very careful not to allow broken pieces of the octocoral to drift into another location because they can easily start growing again. The Navy has also cleared about 13,900 square feet of octocoral by laying a tarp over the impacted water area to prevent nutrients and oxygen from reaching the invasive coral.

    • Lualualei Conservation -- The Lualualei Annex is located in the coastal town of Nanakuli, about 30 miles from Honolulu. The installation sits near mountains in an area where brush fires are a concern during the summer months due to the dry weather conditions on the island’s leeward side. The Navy environmental team took the brushfire concerns and wove them into methods used to design and plan for native wildlife and plant protection. Kimber Troumbley, a terrestrial natural resource specialist with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Hawaii, noted the many protected native plants that reside in and are close to grassy fields that are fire prone. Troumbley said the roadway would help slow down the progress of open flames rushing across the grassy land area if there was a brush fire. If the flames continued, they would run to a line of native – but not endangered – plants called “‘Aʻaliʻi” on the other side. This plant stands up well against wind and is fire tolerant. She then motioned toward a large black tarp laid across a row of invasive weeds on the other side of the road between protected native plants. “We laid the weed mat down and then planted all of these non-endangered plants around our endangered species inside.”

    Deeper into the vegetation live the abutilon menziesii, or Koʻoloaʻula. These plants are native to Hawaii and are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The JBPHH natural resource team manages the protection of the plant, and they work with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to ensure this species does not go extinct.

    To learn more about the environmental stewardship at Navy installations in Hawaii, go to https://cnrh.cnic.navy.mil/

    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.12.2024
    Date Posted: 04.12.2024 21:13
    Story ID: 468487
    Location: HAWAII, US

    Web Views: 171
    Downloads: 0

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