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Posts Tagged ‘native ecosystem’

From Marti:

The Hawaii Legislature is seriously considering a raid on our most important conservation funds in order to balance the state budget.  This is insane given all that these few millions do to protect the quality of our drinking water, the health of our native ecosystems, and truly local jobs.  But, the insanity goes a step further once you realize they are considering these massive cuts when the state is owed millions upon millions for the use of public land on Mauna Kea.

For 40 years foreign-owned telescopes have used (and destroyed) acres of public land on the summit of Mauna Kea without paying any rent.  Rent, that is required by state law!  It’s estimated that the state could earn at least $50 million a year just by charging market-based rent for the use of our public lands, instead of giving it away to foreign corporations and countries… and cutting important programs and jobs to make ends meet.

On Sunday, the Honolulu Advertiser published the editorial below from some of the entities that directly benefit from these important programs.  If you would like to express your support for these programs to the Hawaii Legislature, click here.

Natural resources permit our survival

By Herbert “Monty” Richards, Gary and Kukui Maunakea-Forth and Rick Barboza
Honolulu Advertiser, April 12, 2009

We thank The Advertiser for its editorial (April 2) on the necessity of natural resource stewardship even during fiscal crises. Generations of ranchers, farmers and land managers have always understood the close connection between a healthy natural environment, land protection, stewardship, water supply, agricultural self-sufficiency and the economy.

Business and government often measure our economy by the number of tourism and construction jobs in operation. That’s understandable, but doesn’t account for vast natural assets (water, forests, beaches, coral reefs, agricultural land) that support every person in Hawai’i — residents and visitors — who depend on services from the environment for their livelihoods, health and welfare.

The programs that are funded by the DLNR’s Natural Area Reserve Fund and the Land Conservation Fund are essential to the protection of our Hawaiian resources. They support watershed management, invasive species control, agricultural production, forestry, coastal protection and cultural preservation. Hundreds are employed and more than 1 million acres are managed, protected and cultivated for public benefit. These healthy, managed natural resources and the services they provide allow us the lifestyle we all enjoy and permit our survival in the middle of the vast Pacific.

Due to difficult times, conveyance tax revenue that supports these funds is down 50 percent. These programs will be cut by half or more even without House Bill 1741. Further reduction in the NAR Fund and Land Conservation Fund as proposed in HB 1741 would either eliminate many of these essential programs or cripple them to the point of leaving them inoperable and nonfunctioning. These programs leverage funding by at least 1:1, and in some cases as much as 1:3, with federal, county and private dollars (i.e., for every state dollar spent, three additional matching non-state dollars can be leveraged).

The NAR Fund and the Land Conservation Fund are our state’s way of supporting large-scale conservation that protects our incredible natural resources, supports sustainable land and water management, ensures high-quality jobs, and guarantees the perpetuation of essential ecosystem services worth billions of dollars. Without watershed management, critical drinking water resources will dry up or become contaminated.

Without personnel in the field controlling invasive species, pests like bee mites will infiltrate our shores — wiping out industries like our local honey/beekeeping industry, or requiring tens of millions to control and eradicate (e.g., miconia, coqui frogs). Without land protection, more agricultural, watershed, forest, coastal and culturally important lands will be converted; reducing our ability to feed ourselves and attract visitors who appreciate Hawai’i’s natural beauty.

Without these programs, successes like MA’O Organic Farms might not be possible. MA’O recently purchased agricultural land using Land Conservation Funds, allowing it to expand its organic farm, and employ over two dozen high school graduates from Wai’anae and Nanakuli and pay their college tuition and stipends. As fifth-generation ranchers in North Kohala, Kahua Ranch and its neighbors in the Kohala Watershed Partnership are using their resources and support from the NAR Fund to control invasive species and protect 65,000 acres of native forests and watersheds.

With help from the NAR Fund’s Forest Stewardship Program, Hui Ku Maoli Ola will restore over 30 acres of land in Ha’iku valley. Keeping the NAR Fund percentage at 25 percent and the Land Conservation Fund percentage at 10 percent is a small investment for such large, sustainable and long-term benefits for our island communities.

Herbert “Monty” Richards of Kahua Ranch, Gary and Kukui Maunakea-Forth of MA’O Organic Farms and Rick Barboza of Hui Ku Maoli Ola wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

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