HONOLULU (KHON2) - Today U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted to pass public lands legislation that would bring more federal funding to Hawaii and protect historic sites in the state. The package of bills provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which funds projects in Hawaii, and includes Schatz-authored legislation making Hawaii eligible for drought management and water conservation grants for the first time. The package also upgrades Honouliuli from a national monument to a national historic site and re-designates Pearl Harbor as its own separate national memorial, allowing both sites to share National Park Services resources.
“Our bill provides Hawaii funding opportunities for land and water conservation, including some grants that we’ve never been able to access before,” said Senator Schatz. “And it helps preserve our state’s history by allowing Pearl Harbor and Honouliuli to share resources.”
Schatz worked with the bill’s author, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), to include these Hawaii-related provisions in the bill. He is also a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Thanks to the passage of this bill, Honouliuli will be better positioned to receive federal resources that are essential for its ongoing preservation and maintenance,” said Jacce Mikulanec, President and Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. “We applaud Hawaii’s Congressional delegation for their work in this effort and for helping to ensure this site will continue to be a resource to teach and educate us all about the importance of civil rights, the U.S. Constitution, and democracy. No time in our country’s history has this been more important than today.”
Hawaii has received nearly $230 million in LWCF funding, protecting treasured parks and historic sites like Haleakala, Hawaii Volcanoes, Kalaupapa, Kaloko-Honokohau, and Puuhonua O Honaunau, and wildlife refuges including Hakalau Forest, Hanalei Valley, James Campbell, Kealia Pond, Kilauea Point, Oahu Forest, and Palmyra Atoll. In 2003, the 113,000-acre, $22 million Kahuku Ranch addition to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was the largest single land conservation transaction in the history of the state and increased park size by 50 percent.
“Though most people have never heard of the LWCF, this important fund has invested more than $229 million in Hawaii to protect treasured natural and cultural landscapes throughout the state,” said Ulalia Woodside, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy’s Hawaii Program.
The public lands package includes Schatz’s SECURE Water Amendments Act, which expands grants and increases funding for water conservation and drought projects, provides resources for better data collection and analysis of water supply and use, and finally makes Hawaii water conservation projects eligible for grants. Hawaii is not currently eligible for WaterSMART grants, which support local water management projects that conserve and use water more efficiently.
The lands package also includes a bipartisan bill written by Senators Schatz and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to help improve aging water delivery systems. The legislation requires the Department of Interior to release a report every two years detailing specific repairs and rehabilitation needs at Bureau of Reclamation facilities.