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Hirono Announces $1.54 Million Grant to Protect and Recover At-Risk Species in Maui County

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, announced that the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will receive $1.54 million in federal funding to implement the first stage of the Maui Landscape Conservation Plan to protect and recover at-risk species in Maui County. The project will prevent near-term imminent extinction of target plant species, expand horticultural expertise for propagation and reintroduction, and establish a state-wide survey and monitoring database for the more than 200 at-risk plants, invertebrates, water birds and sea birds on the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. The grant is made possible by the Biden-Harris Administration’s America the Beautiful Challenge (ATBC), which was funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted last year, as well as other federal conservation programs and private sources.

“The Maui Landscape Conservation Plan—and similar initiatives across the state—play a key role in protecting and preserving native at-risk plant and animal species that comprise Hawaii’s unique environment,” said Senator Hirono. “The funding from this grant will enable DLNR to continue its efforts to ensure that these species, along with other precious natural resources, are able to continue to play important roles in our native ecosystems for years to come.”

Across the country, the ATBC is providing nearly $91 million in funding through 55 new grants that will support conservation projects in 42 states, three U.S. territories, and 14 Tribal Nations, generating a total conservation impact of about $141.7 million. ATBC grants support projects that conserve, restore, and connect habitats for wildlife while improving community resilience and access to nature. Overall, the projects are expected to:

  1. Improve or remove more than 250 miles of fence to benefit wildlife;
  2. Manage more than 130,000 acres of fire-dependent habitat;
  3. Remove or improve more than 57 barriers to fish and aquatic organism passage;
  4. Reconnect more than 1,300 miles of stream or river;
  5. Improve management of more than 26 million acres, including grasslands with bison to provide ecological, cultural, and spiritual healing; and
  6. Restore more than 1,900 acres of wetlands.

The grant awards were made possible with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, other federal conservation programs, and private sources. The ATBC is a partnership between National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Departments of Interior, Agriculture and Defense, along with Native Americans in Philanthropy. It also includes an emphasis on supporting Tribal access to grant funding for restoration, conservation and capacity-building, and seeks projects that incorporate indigenous traditional knowledge in planning and implementation.

As a member of the ENR Committee, Senator Hirono has championed legislation to protect Hawaii’s environment, fish, wildlife, and plants. In September, she introduced legislation authorizing $55 million in federal funding over the next eleven years to support ongoing efforts to help combat Rapid Ohia Death in Hawaii, and led a resolution recognizing the 50th anniversaries of the establishment of Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge on Kauai and Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu. This past March, Senator Hirono also introduced a bipartisan resolution designating April 2022 as “National Native Plant Month,” recognizing the importance of native plants to environmental conservation and restoration, as well as in supporting a diversity of wildlife. Last year, she helped pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which invests billions in climate mitigation, resilience, and safety, including a focus on cleaner and safer buses.