March 19, 2015

HAWAII DELEGATION ANNOUNCES $3.3 MILLION IN FUNDING FOR CONSERVATION EFFORTS

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Hawaii Congressional Delegation announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allocate almost $3.3 million to Hawaii for programs that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests, diseases, and pathogens, including the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle and other invasive species.

“The grant from the USDA will help Hawaii in combatting the spread of invasive species, and will be particularly helpful with efforts to contain the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle,” said Congressman Takai (HI-01). “Our home state supports a unique and diverse range of plants and animals that need to be protected.  Invasive species have had a devastating effect on our indigenous species in the past, and the need to safeguard our delicate ecosystems is imperative to preserve Hawaii’s natural beauty for generations to come.”

“Hawai‘i is home to many unique plants and animals found nowhere else in the world,” said Senator Schatz (D-Hawai’i). “The indigenous wildlife of our islands must be preserved and these funds from the USDA will help prevent the spread of invasive species and protect our ecosystem.

“As an island state, Hawaii’s agricultural community faces unique challenges as we work to increase our food security,” said Senator Hirono (D-Hawaii). “During a recent visit to the Waimanalo Market Co-Op, I was able to speak to growers and see firsthand how access to locally-grown products benefits both farmers and consumers. These grants provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will facilitate increased collaboration between federal, state, and academic partners to strengthen protections for our growers against invasive species. I look forward to discussing these issues with members of our agricultural community and USDA officials in the coming weeks and months.”

“Invasive species have had devastating impacts on our Hawai'i farmers and the larger ecosystem in Hawaii,” said Congresswoman Gabbard (HI-02).  “I have been working to continue to engage the Hawaii Department of Agriculture on the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle. Last November I joined with colleagues in the House Armed Services Committee to work with Navy and USDA officials about steps the taken to monitor, control, and eradicate the CRB in Hawaii. The USDA funds announced today will help with the rapid detection of these destructive species, which is so critical to preventing the spread of this pest even further.”

The bulk of the funds, $2.2 million will be diverted to the “Rapid response to new detection of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle in Hawaii – Year 2” program. The program seeks to combat the spread of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB), an invasive species that was first detected in Hawaii in December of 2013.

Additional funds will be allocated to the National Clean Plant Program (NCPN), a program that seeks to ensure the availability of a healthy and clean national plant stock. These funds are provided through the Agricultural Act of 2014. In total the grant would provide an additional $3,289,278 in funding for Hawaii.

A multi-agency group has been working under the Incident Command System to manage this eradication program. Agencies currently involved include: U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Navy, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources, UH-College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Oahu Invasive Species Committee and others.