Pōhakuloa Training Area receives funding to protect and restore native plants and species

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U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth toured Pōhakuloa Training Area for the first time Jan. 23, 2023, with a stop at its greenhouse where they protect native plant species. Photo: Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now

This story was updated at 8:13 a.m. Feb. 1.

More than $7 million in federal funding was awarded to the state of Hawai‘i for restoration and recovery projects on military training installations located on the Big Island, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

The U.S. Department of Defense is providing $7,123,851 under the Readiness and Environmental Integration Program, or REPI, that will be dedicated to protecting and restoring rare species of plants and animals found only in the Aloha State. The support also will significantly bolster efforts to remove invasive species that threaten Hawai‘i’s quality of life, the economy and native ecosystems, as well as wildfire prevention.


For the 12th consecutive year, the REPI Program also hosted the annual REPI Challenge, a competition with dedicated funding to advance REPI project outcomes through large-scale innovation and conservation.

Pōhakuloa Training Area, located between Maunakea and Mauna Loa in the saddle region of the Big Island, was selected as one of 13 military installations throughout the entire Department of Defense for the 2023 challenge. The Army base will receive $1.3 million for its Nāpu‘u Natural Resource Protection: Mitigating Rare Plant Impacts project. Another $1.3 million is expected to come from partner contributions, giving PTA a total of $2.6 million for the project.

“Our stewardship mission and partnerships with community partners is incredibly important to us here at PTA,” said PTA Commander Lt. Col. Kevin Cronin. “These REPI Challenge awards are just one example of our enduring partnership efforts.”


Other projects in the islands awarded REPI funding were:

  • O‘ahu: U.S. Army Garrison-Hawai‘i, Makua Military Reservation, Schofield Barracks, Kahuku Training Area, Poamoho Training Area – Ecosystem restoration and rare plant and animal preservation; $2.7 million
  • Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i Island: Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i, Pōhakuloa Training Area – Detection and management of high-impact aquatic and terrestrial invasive species; $3.1 million

Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Dawn Chang said state funds provided to her department supplement the critical partner contribution needed to apply for the REPI federal funds. With the Hawai‘i Legislature’s support, the state can multiply the federal grant investment.

“We appreciate the REPI program’s support for numerous projects and initiatives underway and others that are planned,” Chang said. “Hawai‘i has the sad distinction of having the highest number of endangered species on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list. With large areas of state-managed lands adjacent to DoD facilities and installations, we are excited to partner with REPI to get more of our rare plants and animals protected.”


The collaborative efforts will also provide some resiliency in the face of climate change, especially when it comes to rare and endangered plants and animals.

“The DoD is committed good stewardship of the environment and these projects, in partnership with the DLNR, are a demonstration of that commitment,” said Marine Corps Major General Mark Hashimoto, Mobilization Assistant to the Commander U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. “The military in Hawai‘i will always play a key role in the defense of our nation, the region, and the world, and as we perform this no-fail mission it is imperative we also protect the land and water for future generations.”

To learn more about this year’s Hawai’i REPI Challenge funding recipients, click here.

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