Maui News

Bill Seeks Funds to Support Ongoing Restoration at Kahoʻolawe

February 8, 2017, 2:50 PM HST
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Photo credit: Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission.

The House Committee on Water & Land will hear a measure on Friday, Feb. 10, that seeks to appropriate funds to support the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.

The bill states that the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission is funded predominantly by a dwindling trust fund created in 1994 during the federal cleanup of unexploded ordnance on Kaho‘olawe.

The bill was introduced by: Ryan Yamane (D-Mililani, Waipiʻo Gentry, Waikele), Henry J.C. Aquino (D-Waipahu), Ty J.K. Cullen (Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo, West Loch), Ken Ito (D-Kaneʻohe, Maunawili, Olomana), Angus L.K. McKelvey (D-West Maui, Māʻalaea, North Kīhei), Joseph M. Souki (D-Kahakuloa, Waiheʻe, Waiehu, Puʻuohala, Wailuku, Waikapū), and Kyle T. Yamashita (D-Spreckelsville, Pukalani, Makawao, Kula, Kēōkea, ʻUlupalakua, Kahului).

“Although it was a considerable amount,” the bill states that the federal appropriation totaling approximately $44 million over a period of several years “was not substantial enough to establish a sustainable endowment for the long-term restoration of Kaho‘olawe.”

A fiscal audit of the Kaho‘olawe rehabilitation trust fund performed by the office of the auditor in 2013 reported that the trust fund would be depleted by 2016.

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Supporters of the measure note that Kahoʻolawe is the only island listed on the National Register of Historic Places in its entirety, containing nearly 3,000 archaeological sites and features.  The KIRC is encouraging testimony that speaks to the importance of preserving this important resource for current and future generations through financial support.

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The KIRC is asking that the trust fund be stabilized so that it can continue its work to protect the island’s coastal ecosystem, including the adjacent nearshore environment and coral reefs, species including the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green sea turtle, endangered hawksbill sea turtle, endangered humpback whale, endangered Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel, and endangered Newell’s shearwater.

The mission of the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission is to implement the vision for Kaho’olawe Island in which the body of Kaho’olawe is restored and the people of Hawaiʻi care for the land.

The Commission has pledged to provide for the meaningful and safe use of Kaho’olawe for the purpose of the traditional and cultural practices of the native Hawaiian people and to undertake the restoration of the island and its waters.

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The KIRC states that “To many, Kaho’olawe is a symbol of resilience, hope for the future of the Hawaiian Nation, and an opportunity to rebuild a cultural heritage.”

Under the bill, lawmakers are seeking funds for 2017 to 2019.  The measure states: “There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaiʻi the sum of $1,000,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2017-2018 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2018-2019 for LNR – natural and physical environment (LNR906) for the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.”

The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb 10, 2017 at the State Capitol, 415 South Beretania Street House conference room 325.

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