Gov. Ige’s BLNR Nominations Include Big Island Man
Three nominations for the Board of Land and Natural Resources were announced Tuesday by Governor David Ige. The nominations, one of which is from the Big Island, are subject to confirmation by the Senate.
Christopher Yuen is among the nominees and a resident of Ninole. He current serves on the BLNR on an interim basis and previously held the Board’s Hawai’i County seat from 1990 to 1998.
Currently, Yuen is on the advisory councils for the Laupahoehoe and Puuwaawaa Experimental Tropical Forest. He has also owned and managed The Family Farm, Inc. since 1995. Between 2000 and 2008, Yuen was Hawai’i County’s planning director. He has also served as the County’s deputy corporation counsel, in addition to practicing law as a private attorney.
“With significant work experience as a planner, attorney and farmer, Chris brings a balanced and insightful point of view to the Board table,” said Governor David Ige. “Hawai’i will greatly benefit from his commitment and passion to our communities and his willingness to serve.”
Graduating from Stanford University, Yuen earned his bachelor’s degree in human biology and later went on to earn a master’s degree in environmental science from State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He later would receive a juris doctorate from University of Hawai’i’s William S. Richardson School of Law.
“It’s a pleasure and a privilege to continue serving on the board,” said Yuen. “I look forward to deliberations of the Board and making decisions today that will shape the future of our state.”
Keith “Keone” Downing is another nominee of Gov. Ige. An expert waterman and respected big wave rider, Downing is the son of big-wave pioneer George Downing. Along with his sister, he currently runs the family business, Downing Hawai’i, which is the state’s oldest surf shop.
Downing is strongly committed to advocacy on behalf of ocean conservation. He has been long-involved with the Surfing Education Association, showing his dedication to the preservation of Hawai’i’s coral reefs, waves, and beaches.
“Keone’s unparalleled knowledge of local waters will be an asset to the Board of Land and Natural Resources,” said Gov. Ige. “I know he will be a voice for the community.”
After graduating from Kamehameha Schools, Downing earned a degree in commercial art from California College of the Arts. He graduated in 1975 and went on to design logos for Quiksilver and O’Neill.
“I’m humbled to be nominated for this position,” said Downing. “It is an honor to be asked to preserve our natural and cultural resources for future generations.”
Gov. Ige also nominated Ulalia Woodside, who has been serving on the Board on an interim basis since 2014. Woodside currently lives in Waimanalo and is the regional asset manager for natural and cultural resources at Kamehameha Schools’ Land Assets Division. Previously, she has held roles at the Wilson Okamoto Corporation, The Hallstrom Group, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Woodside serves as a steering committee member for Hawai’i Green Growth and is also the indigenous representative for the Landscape Conservation Cooperative National Council. She formerly served as commissioner for the Natural Area Reserves System Commission and is a former executive council chair for the Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative.
“Ulalia has extensive experience managing Hawai’i’s natural and cultural resources, and she provides a valuable perspective on the Board,” said Gov. Ige. “I am pleased that she has agrees to continue to serve on the Board.”
A graduate of UH Manoa, Woodside received her bachelor’s degree in political science and Hawaiian studies, along with a certificate in Hawaiian language. She is also a kumu hula, having completed the ‘unuki rites of her family’s genealogical hula traditions.
“I am honored to be asked to continue to serve on the board and am committed to preserving Hawai’i’s natural resource,” said Woodside.