Here’s an update from the office of U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz regarding Puna on the Big Island:

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island.

Agreement was reached by all parties that all levels of government share responsibility for dealing with the hazard that these trees pose, and that the federal, state, and county government would provide financial and other resources towards this mitigation plan. HELCO also agreed, subject to approval by the PUC, to participate in the hazard mitigation program.

Residents drive through the middle of downed and cut trees in the Paradise Park section of Puna on August 12, 2014.

Residents drive through the middle of downed and cut trees in the Paradise Park subdivision.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

The next steps are to assemble all key stakeholders, and develop a hazard mitigation plan with a budget, and determine cost sharing. The target timeframe is to assemble the key stakeholders, and develop a preliminary hazard mitigation plan as soon as possible.

“Albizia wreaked havoc on power infrastructure and damaged private property, and we have to work together to minimize the likelihood that this happens again,” the senator said. “I’m thankful for Mayor Kenoi’s leadership and assistance in helping to put together the resources necessary to mitigate this problem.”

Read Civil Beat’s related coverage:

The Pod Squad on Puna: ‘There’s An Election?’

Puna: 15 Minutes of Fame on Hawaii’s ‘Last Frontier’

The Projector: Photos of Polls, Poles and Punatics

Schatz: I’m Not Ready to Leave Puna Behind

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