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Case Secures Passage Of Hawai‘i National Forest Study Bill

Congress also approves his call to fund measures to protect Hawaii’s lands and oceans

(Washington, DC) -- U.S. Congressman Ed Case (HI-01), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for all federal discretionary spending, today announced the inclusion of critical funding and programs to protect Hawaii’s environment as part of the just-passed Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 omnibus funding bill.

“The FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill makes substantial federal investments in Hawaii’s efforts to conserve our lands and ocean for future generations and protect endangered species,” said Case.

“The omnibus includes my proposal to initiative a process which may lead to Hawaii’s first-ever National Forest, which would assist us in preserving our truly unique ecosystem,” explained Case. “It directs our federal government to pursue a formal process led by the U.S. Forest Service of engaging with state and community stakeholders toward identification of the most suitable Hawai‘i forests for inclusion as national forests.”

Case also added: “The FY 2023 omnibus funding measure will boost efforts to help Hawai‘i fight invasive species, which have caused Hawai’i to be recognized as the invasive species capital of the world.”

The bill adopts Case’s request to support various invasive species programs, including $36 million for the Agricultural Quarantine Inspections Program to combat invasive species in Hawai‘i and $47 million for the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Threats and Invasive Species Research Program. The bill also creates a pilot program to prioritize the use of native plant species and combat invasive species within the National Park System.

The bill includes the following other funding and programs requested and secured by Case:

·        $1.3 million to safeguard over nearly 700 acres in Maunawili Valley. The proposed forest reserve would be managed by the Hawai‘i Division of Forestry and Wildlife in partnership with local nonprofits seeking to steward the land, engage sustainable agriculture and restore cultural sites and lo‘i. Maunawili Forest is not only significant for its historic and cultural resources but is the natural habitat for three threatened or endangered Hawaiian damselfly species, a forest bird (‘elepaio), and four species of endangered Hawaiian wetland birds.

·        $1.8 million to assist the State Department of Land and Natural Resources’ acquisition of nearly 1,000 acres of in Kāne‘ohe.

The Kāneʻohe Pali lands include freshwater springs, famous waterfalls, at least 11 streams and tributaries, native forest which comprises priority watershed, critical habitat for a wide range of native plant and animal species, the historic Luluku banana patches, mountain peaks and other geological formations.

  • $12.9 million in additional funding for the possible acquisition of Kaupō Ranch on the southern slope of Haleakalā for the NPS. Kaupō Ranch is a key access point for the popular Kaupō Gap Trail that traverses the crater of Haleakalā National Park. This funding will help secure a 3,018 acre portion and expand recreational activities and protect important natural resources, watersheds and endangered species. 

·        $1.7 million for the Hawai‘i State Department of Land and Natural Resources to conduct forest protection and aquifer recovery activities for the Pearl Harbor watershed.

·        $64 million for the U.S. Geological Survey Species Management Research Program to respond to the needs of critically endangered Hawaiian forest birds. 

·        $175 million for the protection, research and management of marine mammals, sea turtles and other ocean species.

·        $80 million for the Sea Grant Program, which supports coastal and Great Lakes communities through research, extension and education. These funds help support the Hawaiʻi Sea Grant Program at the University of Hawaiʻi that concentrates on promoting healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, resilient communities and economies and environmental literacy and workforce development.

·        $68 million for the Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas Program, including the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

·        $34 million for the Coral Reef Conservation Program.

·        $31 million for long-deferred maintenance projects at Hawaii’s national parks.

·        $19 million for the National Trails System, which will benefit the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail.

Case’s Appropriations Committee is responsible for allocating some $1.7 trillion in funding to federal government agencies, departments and organizations on an annual basis. A detailed summary of the FY 2023 omnibus is available here.