In the last few weeks, I thought it became apparent to everyone that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is seriously underfunded given its mandate to protect our land, water, cultural and natural resources, and Hawaiian sites for our people and future generations.
I guess I was wrong! The state House of Representatives recently passed its budget bill, HB 500 HD 1, and eliminated or reduced funding for several important DLNR programs described below. HB 500 HD 1 crossed over to the Senate, where it will be heard by Ways and Means any day now. We hope critical funding for DLNR programs will be replaced by the Senate or House and Senate negotiators in conference committee.
We Need Your Kokua Now!
1. Please call both your state representative and your state senator as soon as possible, say that you live in their district, and politely urge them to restore drastic cuts to the DLNR’s budget in budget bill HB 500 HD 1. If you would like to provide specific information, ask them to include the following:
* $13m for the Natural Area Reserve Fund, $6.8m in the Legacy Land Fund, and $6.3m in the Forest Stewardship Fund (all of which are supported by conveyance tax revenues that are at historic highs because of the booming residential and commercial real estate markets (which put added pressure on natural resources like fresh water);
* $6m in general funds for Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council programs;
* $750,000 for wildlife and emergency response equipment for DLNR;
* Funding for the Division of Conservation and Resourc Enforcement, (DOCARE), DLNR for community fisheries enforcement units on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i
* Funding for the Division of Aquatic Resources, DLNR, for the Humpback Whale Sanctuary State Co-Manager and for Community-based Subsistence Fisheries Area Planner and Marine Regulation and Policy Specialist to support community-based marine management like H?‘ena, P?p?kea, Mo‘omomi, Ka‘?p?lehu, etc.
2. After you call your state representative and state senator, please email all representatives and senators at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com and politely urge them to do the same as above.
3. Share this Kokua Alert with others and ask them to contact their representatives and senators. Mahalo nui loa!
FYI: Here is a summary of the drastic cuts to the DLNR’s budget in HB 500 HD 1:
– Natural Area Reserve Fund – Governor’s FY16 request of $13m spending authority; House reduced to $0 (the FY15 spending authority for the NAR Fund had been $8m)
– Legacy Land Conservation Fund – Governor’s FY16 request of $6.8m spending authority; House reduced to $0 (the FY15 spending authority had been $5.1m)
– Forest Stewardship Fund – Governor’s FY16 request of $6.3m spending authority; House reduced to $5m (the same level as the FY15)
– Hawai?i Invasive Species Council programs – Governor’s FY16 request of $4m general funds; House reduced to $0 (the FY15 Legislature provided $5.75m to HISC programs)
– Native Resources & Fire Protection – Governor’s request for $750,000 in general funds for needed wildfire and emergency response equipment was denied by the House.
– DOCARE – NO funding included in the House budget for:
o Community Fisheries Enforcement Units on Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, and Hawai‘i
o Makai Watch Coordinator
– Division of Aquatic Resources – NO funding included in the House budget for:
o Humpback Whale Sanctuary State Co-Manager
o Community-based Subsistence Fisheries Area Planner and Marine Regulation and Policy Specialist to support community-based marine management like Haena, Pupukea, Mo`omomi, Ka‘upulehu, etc.
Footnote: The NAR Fund and Forest Stewardship Fund use conveyance tax revenue to manage forest and watershed resources through the State Natural Area Reserves (mostly ceded land), Forest Reserves, Watershed Partnerships, Natural Area and Forest Stewardship partnerships with private landowners, and the Hawai‘i Youth Conservation Corps. The Legacy Land Fund provides State matching funds to purchase and protect cultural, natural, agricultural, historical, and recreational resource lands. The Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council provides funding for critical invasive species prevention, eradication, control, research, and education programs.
House of Representatives Contact Information (To find your state representative, go to http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/findleg.aspx?street=Enter%20Street%20Name)
Editor’s Note: Marjorie Ziegler is the executive director of the Conservation Council of Hawaii