They Love ‘Ōhi‘a Love

Tourism award recognizes NREM efforts to combat Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.

  • 27 February 2020
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 5742
They Love ‘Ōhi‘a Love

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority presented educational specialist Corie Yanger (NREM), William Stormont (DLNR/DOFAW), and William Buckley (Big Island Invasive Species Committee) with the 2019 Tourism Legacy Award, Ho‘ohanohano Ho‘oilina Ho‘okipa, for their hard work and accomplishments in protecting Hawaii’s ‘ōhi‘a forests from Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death at the HTA Legacy Luncheon in Waikoloa in November. HTA recognized that the ‘ōhi‘a tree and its lehua flower are emblematic of Hawai‘i Island and is the most important tree of our native forests and unique ecosystems. 

Corie, who has been with CTAHR since 2016, manages the Hawai‘i Island Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death Extension program. While Bill Stormont and Bill Buckley manage on the ground monitoring and responses to new detections of the disease on state and private lands, Corie works to educate landowners, local communities, and visitors as to what they can do to prevent the spread of the disease and protect their forests. 

The highlight of her program is the annual ‘Ōhi‘a Love Fest in Hilo, which draws over a thousand participants each year to learn about ‘ōhi‘a, our native forests, and the threats they face. She also helped lead a statewide bio-sanitation training program for tour operators where businesses learned about how they can help to prevent the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death and other invasive diseases and pests. 

The three awardees were presented lei hulu (feather lei) made by Greg Hirata. The orange and red lei represent the sunrise glow through the ‘ōhi‘a trees and a ray of hope as we save our forests. Left to right are pictured Kalani Ka‘anā‘anā, Chris Tatum, William Buckley, Corie Yanger, William Stormont, Sen. Lorraine Inouye, and Rep. Richard Onishi. Photo courtesy of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and Kirk Lee Aeder Photography. 

Find out more about Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death here