East Hawaii News

Grants Will Buy Critical Habitat Lands on Big Isle

August 16, 2012, 3:06 PM HST
* Updated August 16, 3:08 PM
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The US Fish and Wildlife Service this week announced that Hawai`i will receive two grants totaling $2.4 million for the purchase of land on the Big Island deemed critical for the protection of endangered species.

One grant of $1.2 million will fund the acquisition of 3,128 acres of coastal lands – including more than a mile of coastline – on the island’s southern coast. The beaches provide habitat for the endangered hawksbill turtle and Hawaiian monk seal and Hawaiian green sea turtles, which are listed as a threatened species.

The agency said the property also includes an anchialine pool complex hosting native marine invertegrates, fish and unique native crustaceans, including three species of endemic shrimp that are candidates for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The property, which will be added to the county’s Open Space lands, is adjacent to the Manuka Natural Area Reserve, which at 22,500 acres is the largest natural area reserve in the state.

The other $1.2 million grant will be used to purchase two adjacent parcels on the northern flank of Mauna Kea which provide habitat for the endangered palila. The properties covering 4,469 acres will be incorporated into areas already fenced to restore the mamane forest on which the rare bird relies for food.

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“Acquisition of this property will provide for endangered species recovery and native species habitat restoration in perpetuity,” the agency said in a statement.

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The property also provides habitat for the endangered Hawaiian hawk or `io, Hawaiian goose or nene, and the `anunu, an endangered plant in the gourd family unique to the Big Island.

The funding comes from the Recovery Land Acquisition Grants Program, a component of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Cooperative Endangered Species Fund.

The grants are part of $33 million in grants given to 21 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for endangered plants and animals.

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