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Hawaii to Receive Over $5 Million Grant to Increase Forest Resiliency

Funding will be used to plant native trees and remove invasive species to improve upland watershed health

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced that Hawaii will receive $5,298,701 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Regional Conservation Partnership Program’s (RCPP) Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA) to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to conduct landscape-level forested watershed restoration.

“Climate change is intensifying the battles we are fighting to protect Hawaii’s native forests from outside threats like wildfires and invasive species. Programs and funding like this from USDA provide much-needed federal assistance to help landowners combat climate change while improving forested watershed health,” Senator Hirono said.

Federal funding will be leveraged with public and private resources from multiple partners to allow DLNR to provide competitive grants to private landowners to address climate change, while improving water quality and habitat for endangered species. Locations with the highest carbon sequestration potential will be selected to plant 210,000 native trees. Additionally, invasive plants, many of which fuel wildfires, will be removed from 1,650 acres. 

This funding is in addition to $2,028,572 provided by the USDA RCPP traditional grant program to the South Kona Soil and Water District, announced in April. That project also seeks to sequester carbon while removing invasive species and improving forest health for endangered species.

Senator Hirono has worked to conserve Hawaii’s forests through a number of efforts, including introducing a bill earlier this year to study the potential to establish a National Forest in Hawaii and her advocacy for Hawaii’s “Island Forests at Risk Proposal,” which received over $40 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect and conserve important lands within the state.