Hawaiʻi's forests need your help! The House Finance Committee just proposed gutting SB192 and replacing it with language that repeals the fund established to protect Natural Area Reserves (NARS) and transfer the $15 million balance to the general fund. The NARS fund is crucial to the protection of our most precious, unique wild areas.
SB192 will be heard on Wednesday, April 4 at 1:30PM in room 308. Attend if you can, but most certainly please submit testimony in opposition to this bill and in support of our natural area reserves.
The NARS fund is crucial to protecting the future of our drinking water resources, for these monies are used to manage essential forest and watershed resources. Land management and protection programs, such as those supported by the Natural Area Reserve Fund, require steady, reliable funding to be most efficient. With dedicated funding and special funds, the Department of Land and Natural Resources can count on a certain amount of funding without having to start from scratch each year, begging for life-sustaining support.
This money is the backbone of public-private conservation programs like the highly successful Watershed Partnerships. More than 2 million acres of upland forests are in active management by these partnerships to restore and perpetuate native ecosystems. These protected ecosystems capture rainwater for storage in our aquifers so that it can be used by future generations for drinking and sustenance.
The conservation work provided by these partnerships translates into quantifiable ecosystem services that benefit everyone in Hawaiʻi. For example, the Ko‘olau Mountain watershed provides O‘ahu residents with $7‐14 billion worth of nature’s benefits, including 135 billion gallons of freshwater annually (47% of O‘ahu’s groundwater recharge), as well as helping to keep nearshore areas clean from runoff and sedimentation, which can impact reefs and fishing.
Our failure to invest millions of dollars in our forests today will mean that in a few years we will need to spend BILLIONS to capture and clean water manually. Please help our elected officials to not be penny-wise and pound-foolish by taking action today: