October 18, 2016

Hirono, State & Local Leaders Emphasize How Public & Private Partnerships Improve Hawaii’s Water Security

Governor David Ige, Environmental Experts Testify at Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Field Hearing at State Capitol

Senator Mazie K. Hirono today convened state and local leaders to examine how federal partnerships protect and sustain Hawaii’s freshwater resources. Senator Hirono, Governor David Ige, state elected officials, and watershed resource experts outlined what Hawaii groups are currently doing to improve water security, and how the federal government can support these efforts.

“Hawaii’s native forested watersheds feed our state’s water supply, and it is vital that we protect these precious resources,” said Senator Hirono. “The federal government will continue to play a critical role in supporting innovative strategies that protect our forested watersheds. We must continue to work with all stakeholders to improve conservation and ensure that our water resources are protected for generations to come.”

“During the World Conservation Congress in Honolulu last month, I made an ambitious commitment to the global community to protect 30 percent of Hawaii’s priority watershed forests by 2030,” said Governor Ige. “Only 15 percent of priority watershed forests are protected. We can only reach this goal and exceed it through public-private partnerships between landowners and managers who recognize this is the best way to protect our forested watersheds and our fresh water source.”

Senator Hirono voted to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Senator Hirono also worked to get Hawaii’s collaborative landscape proposal, “Island Forests at Risk,” in the President’s budget for FY 2016 and 2017. This proposal, which includes 13 public and private partners, provides funding to purchase and protect endangered species’ habitats, culturally significant areas, and ecologically important lands in the state.

Senator Hirono heard from a number of witnesses who shared federal, local, and cultural perspectives on how to improve Hawaii’s water security, including:

 

State Senator Mike Gabbard

Chair, Hawaii State Senate Committee on Water, Land, and Agriculture

State Representative Ryan Yamane

Chair, Hawaii State House of Representatives Committee on Water and Land

Mr. Steve Anthony

Director, U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Islands Water Science Center

Mr. Randy Moore

Regional Forester, U.S. Department of Agriculture Pacific Southwest Region Forest Service

Mr. David Smith

Administrator, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife

Dr. Sam Gon

Senior Scientist and Cultural Advisor, The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii

Mr. Matthew Gonser

Extension Faculty, University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program

Mr. Trae Menard

Chair, Hawaii Association of Watershed Partnerships