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??hi?a Fungus Found on Kaua?i


State and federal officials are investigating and responding to the deaths of several ??hi?a trees on Kaua?i.

A few months ago, an official with the Department of Land and Natural Resources discovered at least five trees that appeared to have died from symptoms associated with Rapid ??hi?a Death – in the Moloa?a Forest Reserve on the northeastern side of the island.

Samples of the trees were later collected and sent to a USDA lab in Hilo – which confirmed a fungus related to Rapid ??hi?a Death caused the deaths. The fungus found Kaua?i is one of two fungi that is killing large numbers of ??hi?a trees on Hawai?i Island. But it is slower moving and less aggressive.

The results sparked a rapid response from state, local and federal agencies – who performed aerial surveys, additional lab work and training of Kauai teams.

Sheri Mann is the Kauai Branch Chief for the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

She says they don’t know how the fungus got to Kaua?i, but there are several theories.

Officials are still assessing how widespread the fungus is on Kaua?i. In the meantime, they’re asking residents and visitors to be mindful not to possibly spread the fungus.

Tiffani Keanini is the Project Manager for the Kaua?i Invasive Species Committee.

She says sanitation is the best way to prevent the spread.


Credit Department of Land and Natural Resources
Department of Land and Natural Resources

Keanini says residents should report any trees that look like they may be affected by the fungus.

The DLNR says it will be meeting with local partners this week to plan and implement next steps and actions.

More information can be found at http://rapidohiadeath.org

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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