This long term project was initiated in early 1990s by a coalition of partners including technical experts from government, private land interests and NGOs to address increasing threats of invasive species in the Maui landscape particularly the native ecosystems. The program has expanded over the years with increased funding from the County of Maui, State Government and Federal Grants. Tri-Isle RC&D was a founding partner of the Melestome Action Committee (now Maui Invasive Species Committee) and continues in the role of fiscal administrator, with employment and payroll services provided by the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii. MISC staff and field crew currently number about 30 full time employees. Miconia calvescens, a particularly invasive species, originally brought in as an ornamental is the single most serious threat to native rainforests and about half of MISCs attention and manpower is directed to controlling it; which includes both helicopter and ground crew spraying. Annual county grants from the Office of Economic Development and the Department of Water Supply have been ongoing.. Other sources of funding have included grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Federation, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Community Development Block Grants. Their “ISC’s” state organization is called the The Hawai`i Association of Watershed Partnerships.In addition to the core program, MISC is managing several sub-projects to address particular invasive species issues. These include:

  1. Banana Bunchy Top Virus Targeted funding is used to deal with an outbreak of the virus which has a devastating effect on banana groves. Hawaiian heritage varieties are culturally important. The current strategy includes monitoring and treatment in the residential area of Makawao area where the initial infestation occurred as well as targeting smaller infestations that have been identified on other parts of the island. In addition a public awareness campaign has been implemented to help with citizen education of the virus.
  2. Coqui Frog Treatment has also received dedicated funding to prevent spread and help contain these alien frogs which were introduced to Maui on infested imported nursery stock. The frogs’ high decibel call, voracious appetite for native insects as well as a lack of natural enemies (unlike it’s native habitat in Puerto Rico) has been a major cause of concern. MISC has been successful in eliminating most small outlying infestations and is currently gearing up to attack the last remaining population stronghold in Maliko Gulch.
  3. Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis, originally from Africa, has invaded many pastures on Maui and is poisonous to horses, cattle and other livestock. For over 4 years Maui County has funded a public education and treatment program for small landowners to help control fireweed infestation and larger threat to pastures and the island’s cattle industry. Last year approximately 1230 acres of fireweed were treated.
  4. Invasive Species Emergency Response Tri-Isle has administered funding from the County of Maui for prompt response to acute invasive species threats through chemical, biological, research or other techniques