The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the FY2010 Interior Appropriations bill, H.R. 2996, which includes several funding requests by Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) that enhance wildlife habitat, combat invasive species, protect our waters, and preserve historical sites specific to the islands. The legislation passed out the House by a vote of 247 yeas to 178 nays.
H.R. 2996 includes $12,360,000 in FY2010 funds for six projects in the State of Hawaii that Congresswoman Hirono requested. Many of the projects approved for funding were also requested by Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie.
$7,400,000 to complete the expansion of the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on Oahu's North Shore, which will benefit four endangered Hawaiian waterbirds.
$1,460,000 to build a research and education center for the recently established Hawaii Tropical Experimental Forest on the island of Hawaii
$1,000,000 for invasive species management
$1,000,000 for restoration of Kilauea Point lighthouse on Kauai
$1,000,000 for expansion of the Waimea Wastewater facility on Kauai
$500,000 for the Native Hawaiian Arts and Culture Program
(Project details are listed below)
In addition to Congresswoman Hirono's earmarks, the bill provides $3 million to address concerns brought to light by the recently published multi-agency report The State of the Birds, United States of America, 2009, which specifically highlighted the dire situation faced by Hawaii's endangered birds. The conference report on the bill recommended that a significant portion of the $3 million be used to develop a comprehensive strategy, hire staff, and begin on-the-ground projects to recover endangered and threatened bird species in Hawaii. This is in line with Congresswoman Hirono's requests to the committee for $1.5 million for captive breeding programs for highly endangered forest birds and $7 million for implementation of a recovery plan for an endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper, the Palila.
Another highlight of the bill was the inclusion by Senator Inouye of an authorization for a special resource study of the site of the former World War II era Honouliuli Internment Camp. This will accomplish the goals of Senator Inouye's Honouliuli Internment Camp Special Resources Study Act of 2009 (S. 871); Congresswoman Hirono introduced the House companion to that bill (H.R. 2079). The study will determine the historical significance of the Honouliuli site related to the forcible internment of Japanese Americans, European Americans, and other individuals.
"I consider every one of these projects essential in preserving our island environment, natural resources, and historic locations," said Congresswoman Hirono. "I recently visited the site of the Honouliuli Internment Camp where some of the camp structures still stand. While the confining of Japanese-Americans during World War II is seen as a dark chapter in Hawaii's history, and the history of our country, preserving such locations is important to ensure that type of injustice never happens again."
$7,400,000 for James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge
This funding will be used to finalize the acquisition of remaining land (to a total of approximately 1,100 acres) on Oahu's north shore in order to complete the establish of the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge as a natural coastal dune and wetland ecosystem. Established in 1976, James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is considered one of the premier endangered Hawaiian waterbird recovery areas in the state.
$1,460,000 for Construction of a Research and Education Center at the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest
These funds are an addition to the U.S. Forest Service's budget designated to establish and build a Research and Education center necessary to achieve the potential of the recently established Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest on the island of Hawaii. The new facility will serve as a center for long-term research as well as a focal point for developing and transferring knowledge and expertise for the management of tropical landscapes.
$1,000,000 for Invasive Species Management
This represents additional funding to the Fish and Wildlife Service's Partners for Fish and Wildlife budget to continue its ongoing efforts to address invasive species issues in the State of Hawaii. These funds are needed to reduce the impact of invasive species already present and the potential of future introductions on Hawaii's endangered species, insular ecosystems, and human health, as well as the viability of its tourism and agriculture-based economy.
$1,000,000 for Kilauea Point Lighthouse Restoration
This funding will go toward the cost of restoring Kilauea Point Lighthouse, which is part of the Kilauea Point Light Station National Historic Site on this island of Kauai. The lighthouse, which was built in 1931 has national significance as a historical landmark based on its associations with the evolution of trans-oceanic commerce, architectural merit, special role in the history of the Army's Air Corps, and contribution to the island's visitor industry.
$1,000,000 for Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion
These funds will assist the County of Kauai in meeting design and construction costs for expansion of the Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant on the island of Kauai. The total project cost is $12,000,000. The Waimea Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) was originally constructed in the 1970s and has a capacity of 300,000 gallons per day (gpd), an average daily flow. Currently, the plant is operating at approximately 90 percent capacity, and the County is restricting new sewer service connections due to the lack of available WWTP capacity. Funds are needed to expand the capacity of the WWTP by approximately 700,000 gpd.
$500,000 for Native Hawaiian Arts and Culture Program
This funding will help fuel the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program in order to foster a greater sense of cultural awareness and ethnic pride among Native Hawaiians. NHCAP's efforts are focused on assisting Hawaiians to be practitioners of the culture in a rapidly changing multicultural world. The program also aims to share knowledge of and celebrate Hawaiian art and culture, which include educational programs, exhibits, publications, and increased access to Bishop's Museum's vast cultural collections (artifacts, documents, and images).