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Reintroduction of the Ka'u Coast Preservation Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Ka`u Coast Preservation Act, a bill directing the National Park Service to assess the feasibility of designating coastal lands on the Ka`u Coast of the island of Hawaii between Kapao`o Point and Kahuku Point as a unit of the National Park System.

The National Park Service has issued a reconnaissance report that made a preliminary assessment of whether the Ka`u Coast would meet the National Park Service's demanding criteria as a resource of national significance.

The reconnaissance survey concluded that ``based upon the significance of the resources in the study area, and the current integrity and intact condition of these resources, a preliminary finding of national significance and suitability can be concluded.'' The report goes on to recommend that Congress proceed with a full resource study of the area.

Although under significant development pressure, the coastline of Ka`u is still largely unspoiled. The study area contains significant natural, geological, and archeological features. The northern part of the study area is adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and contains a number of noteworthy geological features, including an ancient lava tube known as the Great Crack, which the National Park Service has expressed interest in acquiring in the past.

The study area includes both black and green sand beaches as well as a significant number of endangered and threatened species, most notably the endangered hawksbill turtle (at least half of the Hawaiian population of this rare sea turtle nests within the study area), the threatened green sea turtle, the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal, the endangered Hawaiian hawk, native bees, the endangered and very rare Hawaiian orange-black damselfly (the largest population in the state), and a number of native endemic birds. Humpback whales and spinner dolphins also frequent the area. The Ka`u Coast also boasts some of the best remaining examples of native coastal vegetation in Hawaii.

The archeological resources related to ancient Hawaiian settlements within the study area are also very impressive. These include dwelling complexes, heiau (religious shrines), walls, fishing and canoe houses or sheds, burial sites, petroglyphs, water and salt collection sites, caves, and trails. The Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail runs through the study area.

The Ka`u Coast is a truly remarkable area: its combination of natural, archeological, cultural, and recreational resources, as well as its spectacular viewscapes, are an important part of Hawaii's and our nation's natural and cultural heritage. I believe a full feasibility study, which was recommended in the reconnaissance survey, will confirm that the area meets the National Park Service's high standards as an area of national significance.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.

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