Governor’s Proclamation & HISC Awards: HISAW 2014 Kick-off

Posted on Mar 4, 2014 in News, Press release

Gov and HISC Awardees

For Immediate Release: March 3, 2014


Hawaii Invasive Species Council Joint News Release


2nd Annual Kickoff Event Recognizes Statewide Heroes – Volunteer opportunities held across the state

HONOLULU—On Monday March 3rd, Governor Neil Abercrombie kicked off Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness week with a proclamation and special recognition of this year’s Hawaii Invasive Species Council Award Recipients. Declaring that “invasive species pose the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s health, environment, economy, and people” the Governor praised the award recipients for their dedication to protecting Hawaii and encouraged all to continue leading the fight. State Representatives and Senators were on hand to present the awards which included 2013 Community Hero, 2013 Hottest Hotline Report to 643-PEST, 2013 Business Leader, Greatest Hit of 2013 and MVPS’s from each county in the state.

Following today’s kickoff event and awards ceremony, Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week continues with volunteer opportunities across the state. Members of the public are invited to join conservation organizations as they pull weeds in Kôke‘e State Park on Kaua‘i, remove invasive species from offshore islets near O‘ahu, or volunteer with native replanting on Mauka Kea. Full details are online at:

There is also a statewide opportunity for the public to help save Hawaii’s coconut trees. A group of students from the University of Hawai‘i known as the Beetle Busters are organizing a mission to track down the invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. Members of the public can download the Project Noah app to join the mission, take photos of coconut trees they suspect may be damaged by beetles, and submit them to the Beetle Busters for review. To see photos of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle damage and to join the Beetle Buster mission, visit:

Gov and HISC

Above photos courtesy of Tyler Kruse, Office of the Governor.

2014 HISC Award Recipients:

Perry Barker

Perry Barker

2014 Community Hero, presented by Senator Mike Gabbard: Perry Barker, volunteer, has dedicated countless hours in taking care of Honouliuli Preserve on West Oahu, working with his “Senior Day Care” volunteer group. He has spent time not only annihilating invasive plants in the area but has also grown a large amount of native plants and outplanted them there. Honouliuli Preserve would not be the same without him.



Grant Merritt

2014 Hottest Hotline Report to 643-PEST, presented by Senator Mike Gabbard: Grant Merrit has volunteered his time to detecting and reporting giant day geckos in his neighborhood in Mânoa Valley on Oahu. Working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch, Grant has utilized the 643-PEST hotline to result in the capture of over 50 giant day geckos from his neighborhood.


Diana Crow

Diana Crow

2014 Business Leader, presented by Representative Jessica Wooley: Ulupalakua Ranch In the late 1960’s, Pard Erdman began the tradition partnering with organizations that wanted to help and preserve the native flora on the ranches property. This tradition has grown steadily over the decades and today the ranch is actively partnered with eight different organizations: US FWS, USGS Biological Resource Division, USDA NRCS, DLNR, Ducks Unlimited, TNC, The Native Hawaiian Plant Society, and the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership in its efforts to protect and enhance the native habitat on Ulupalakua Ranch ( They have also committed to and dedicated time and resources to the fight against invasive species. One example is their active engagement in biocontrol efforts and having staff dedicated to this pursuit.


Masako Cordray

Greatest Hit of 2013, presented by Senator J. Kalani English: Masako Cordray is a farmer and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. She has long been an ardent advocate for improvements to Hawaii’s biosecurity system. When little fire ants were discovered on Maui in 2009, Masako was drawn to work with the Maui Invasive Species Committee to make a compelling video about the ant, calling for action to stop its spread. Her passion for the project and her attention to detail are truly impressive. On December 23, 2013, Masako detected little fire ants on a recent plant material purchase. Confirmation by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture set off a chain of events that resulted in the discovery of little fire ants at other garden shops and nurseries on Maui and Oahu and has sparked a statewide response.


Chevy Levasa

Maui Nui MVP 2014, presented by Senator J. Kalani English: Chevalier Levasa is a US Department of Agriculture APHIS PPQ Plant Health Safeguarding Specialist. She’s responsible for screening luggage for passengers departing for the mainland and working with local farmers and growers to ensure compliance for fruits and vegetables exported to the mainland. Unofficially, Chevy is part outreach specialist, field crew, agricultural inspector, and planter of butterfly gardens. She’s done surveys for the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Department of Agriculture for invasive species, not because it was in her job title, but because she sees protecting Molokai as her kuleana. Levasa has worked with local coffee growers and Young Brothers to develop protocols to prevent the introduction of coffee berry borer. “On Molokai, everyone has to wear more than one hat. The focus is on protecting our island, and its nice when we can call one another or send a text, hop in the car and go do it,” Chevy says. “It’s the pride of taking care of where you live and what it means. I just do it because it’s the right thing to do. I just follow my heart.”


Katie Cassel

Kauai MVP 2014, presented by Representative Derek S.K. Kawakami, Representative James Tokioka, and Representative Dee Morikawa: Katie Cassel arrived in Kauai to help with the clean up after hurricane Iniki, and began the Kokee Resource Conservation Program (KRCP), when she recognized the need for a dedicated, volunteer-based program to help control invasive species in Kokee State Park to help protect the pristine forests that had already been devastated by destructive winds. She has been working tirelessly to involve not only the local community but also inspiring volunteers from all over the world to participate in conservation efforts on Kauai. Katie’s determination has allowed KRCP to lead over 27,000 volunteers resulting in the removal of over 10 million individual invasive plants in selected areas of Kokee State Park and Waimea Canyon State Park. Many of the people working in conservation on Kauai got their experience working under Katie and now hold positions at DLNR- DOFAW, KISC, the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), and many other groups helping to preserve Kauai’s natural resources. Katie has also formed many strong partnerships on Kauai through collaborative projects.

Oahu MVP 2014, presented by Representative Chris Lee: Jane Beachy, Oahu Army Natural Resource Program, is responsible for the Army’s continued control and monitoring efforts to prevent the spread of Devil weed on Oahu, expanding roadside weed surveys on military facilities, and displaying dedicated rapid response to new invasive species introductions with an emphasis on collaboration between partners and stakeholders for response and control.


Laurent Pool

Oahu Honorable Mention, presented by Representative Chris Lee: Laurent Pool & Ryan Belcher, Waimea Valley Botanical Garden, are responsible for the construction of small scale fencing in Waimea Valley, co-coordinating and hosting a county wide invasive species control workshop and information sharing event, ungulate removal and coordinating with partners to remove harmful plants from their gardens.


Nadia Malloe

Nadia Malloe

Hawaii Island MVP 2014, presented by Senator Russell Ruderman: Councilman Zendo Kern and the Hawaii County Council introduced and unanimously approved an ordinance to allow the county to enter occupied private property to remove hazard trees and other unsafe flora, after adequate notice has been given to property owners. If the property owners do not remove the hazard themselves, the county will arrange removal and send them the bill. This ordinance is precedent setting in allowing a county agency the authority to enter private property for the removal of an invasive species, including the damaging albizia tree.

Volunteer Events: Occurring statewide from March 3 to 9

Visit the HISAW website at for a full list of volunteer activities across the state. Opportunities include:

  • Helping clear invasive weeds along the Kaluapuhi Trail in Kokee (March 5)
  • Learning about invasive species issues in Hawaii at the Paintballs and Digital Mapping Talk Story , Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge (March 7)
  • Removing invasive species at Lyon Arboretum (March 8)
  • Pulling weeds on the offshore islet of Mokuauia (March 8)
  • Pulling weeds in the Koolau Mountains (March 9)
  • Helping to restore Mauna Kea (throughout March)

To learn more about HISAW visit