HILO – An update on the state's strategic response plan for OH OH calls for more than $ 4 million of funding each year for five years.
The plan, introduced Monday after a team of multi-state and federal agencies requires drafting, to increase the annual funding for 2020 through 2024 to support further research into the disease and increase response efforts as it extends to other islands.
The disease was discovered – caused by two species of fungal infectious spores – a decade ago and was originally only for endemic acid trees on the Big Island. In recent years, however, Maui, Kauai and Oahu have been diagnosed with infected ohia trees, making a state effort to fight the disease.
Rob Hauff, state protection forester with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the previous version of the plan had received $ 3.2 million annually for the past three years, but was only able to save $ 2 million and $ 2.5 million. million to get, depending on the year.
“Yes, it is an increase from the previous year, but we hope that at least we can be close to what we are looking for,” said Hauff.
Of the $ 4.08 million requested, $ 1.44 million was allocated to the disease management and control across all affected islands. Hauff said that the priority was to prevent the spread of disease to ohia Kauai's core forests, which avoids infection to date.
However, the increased funding will enable the various state and federal agencies to engage with the disease to carry out further research and explore new preventative measures.
For example, Hauff said that research carried out over the past three years has allowed dogs to detect infection in ohia trees sooner than at present. Currently, infected trees can only be identified after they have already died. With an annual allocation of $ 70,000, the US Forest Service can establish a program that trains dogs to detect infection on a wider scale.
Other new methods that could be used include image recognition software to be used to identify a dead home from a particular photograph, allowing a survey to be done on more land at the same time, or new early measures. detecting signs of infection before the trees died.
The smallest part of the proposed budget is the allocation of $ 300,000 to the USFS, the University of Hawaii and DLNR for disease resistance and remediation techniques.
“We are just beginning to research resistance and reform,” Hauff said. “Resistance… is a 10-year project similar to refurbishment. They are long-term projects and are very early. ”
Funding for the strategic plan will be sought during this year's legislative session, which starts on Wednesday.
Email Michael Brestovansky at [email protected]