State and federal officials are investigating and responding to the deaths of several ʻōhiʻa trees on Kauaʻi.
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 ʻŌhiʻa Death – in the Moloaʻa 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 ʻŌhiʻa Death caused the deaths. The fungus found Kauaʻi is one of two fungi that is killing large numbers of ʻōhiʻa trees on Hawaiʻi 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 Kauaʻi, but there are several theories.
Officials are still assessing how widespread the fungus is on Kauaʻi. 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 Kauaʻi Invasive Species Committee.
She says sanitation is the best way to prevent the spread.
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