Big Island Polls

Big Island Now poll No. 24: What is the best way to prevent wildfires on the Big Island?

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The nonprofit Waimea-based Hawai‘i Wildfire Management Organization says by the middle of the 21st century, there will be a 35% increase in the number of days with high fire danger around the globe.

Hawai‘i, obviously, isn’t immune to that danger.

An aerial photo of a portion of devastated Lāhainā on Maui. (Courtesy of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources)

During the past 30 years, all Hawaiian islands have experienced more consecutive dry days and less days of intense rainfall. The state also is experience longer droughts, which dry out the vegetation that can become fuel for wildfires.

The risk of fire is tied to rainfall patterns in Hawai‘i, with fires more frequent in dry leeward areas. This is according to a quote from Clay Trauernicht, a wildfire extension specialist with the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Cooperative Extension and Pacific Fire Exchange, in an informational graphic created by the wildfire management organization. He adds that larger fires happen under drought conditions.


“As we experience climate change, we’re seeing year-round wildfire activity in Hawai‘i,” said Hawai‘i State Protection Forester Mike Walker in March.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows that most of the state is abnormally dry now. Several areas such as the the summit area of Maunakea on the Big Island and West and South Maui, where devastating wildfires that started last week have destroyed Lahaina and killed nearly 100 people, are experiencing moderate or severe drought.

“Forecasters continue to predict things will get worse before they get better, with an expectation that more severe drought conditions will plague larger areas of the state into late summer, early fall and even through next winter,” Walker said in July.


As the risk of wildfires increases, so do efforts to prevent them on the Big Island.

Four of the island’s communities were awarded nearly $340,000 earlier this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Community Wildfire Defense grant program to update their community wildfire protection plans in an effort to prepare for wildfires and mitigate their risks.

Several other initiatives were announced during the kickoff for the annual statewide Wildfire & Drought Lookout! campaign.


So while officials are taking steps to keep people and property safe, we want to know what you think should be the priority for reducing the wildfire threat on the Big Island.

Press Here to Take the Poll

Tell us here or on social media why you voted the way you did — or if your answer is not on our list, let us know what it is and explain. Voting ends at midnight Aug. 18. Results will be posted Aug. 13.

You can find the results from last week’s poll that asked “What is the biggest need for public schools on the Big Island?” by clicking here.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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