East Hawaii News

DLNR Receives Federal Forest, Watershed Protection Grant

February 12, 2016, 5:39 PM HST
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Native forest on Kohala Mountain. Photo credit: Jenny Ersbak.

Native forest on Kohala Mountain. Photo credit: Jenny Ersbak.

More than $485,000 was recently awarded to the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The funds, announced Friday by United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, are part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.

RCPP focuses on public-private partnerships that enable private companies, land owners, local communities, and other non-government partners to deliver innovative watershed-scale projects to keep lands resilient, improve water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, and to promote economic growth in a variety of industries.

The award comes in the second year of the RCPP, and it is also the second year that DLNR has received the funding for watershed forest protection.

“The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife has been extraordinary at leveraging funds provided by the state legislature for watershed protection to receive additional Federal funding. We are grateful to the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) for multiplying our investment in watershed protection,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case. “As climate change accelerates and rainfall decreases in our islands, this work is increasingly critical as our forests absorb mist and rain to supply our fresh water. When we protect our forests, we also are protecting our native plants, birds, and other wildlife. As Hawai’i hosts the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September, increased funds for our innovative conservation partnerships can demonstrate Hawai’i’s leadership internationally.”

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“We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with DLNR to protect our watershed forests by planting native trees and controlling invasive species,” said Bruce Petersen, Director for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Pacific Islands Area. “These simple actions dramatically reduce erosion on our beaches and the deposit of sedimentation on our coral reefs – truly affecting our islands mauka to makai.”

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