PCSU/UH Staff Help Fight Kilauea Fire

University of Hawaiʻi
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
David Duffy, (808) 956-8218
Professor of Botany & Unit Leader
Posted: Jun 5, 2002

Nine members of the staff of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have been called up as temporary federal firefighters to help fight the Kupukupu Fire in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Peter Dacalio III, Brando Figueroa, Patrick Galapir, Sean Grossman, Paul Keliihoomalu, Russell Rosario, and Randy Wentworth left their daily assignments last Friday as university wildlife/botanical assistants stationed at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park to help fight the fire. On normal days, their work involves reintroducing endangered plant species into the wild, eradicating alien invasive plants, and maintaining exclosures that keep pigs and goats from eating endangered plants. This work helps park and university scientists find better ways to allow Hawaiian ecosystems to recover from damage caused by alien species.

Sky Mullins, a wilderness/conservation supervisor, and Don Yokoyama, a field project technician, also took leave from their projects restoring ecosystems. The nine all earned their "red cards" making them eligible to be called up as federal firefighters after rigorous physical testing and training.

"Alongside the other firefighters, the PCSU staffers have been putting in 12-hour shifts, trying to keep the lava from igniting fires that would burn into areas of native vegetation," said David Duffy, UH professor of botany and PCSU unit leader.

PCSU in the Department of Botany in the College of Natural Sciences at UH Mānoa is a cooperative project between the university, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service. The unit conducts basic and applied research on conservation biology and management of Hawaiʻi‘s natural resources. It employs over 200 researchers, students and technicians, providing jobs in parts of the state where economic opportunities are otherwise limited.

For more information, visit: http://www.island.hawaii.edu/pcsu