Friday, July 21, 2017
While the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission has endured significant downsizing in recent years, the organization looks forward to launching the new fiscal year with support through the 2017 legislative session as well as the Water Security Advisory Group, (Department of Land and Natural Resources, Commission on Water Resource Management).
With the help of a dedicated circle of Hawaiʻi Representatives and Senators, the KIRC has been included as a line item in the state budget. 15 temporary positions and $1,065,147 for FY18 and $1,097,047 for FY19 in general funds were added for personnel and operating funds for management and restoration of the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve. An additional $1.5 million for FY18 and FY19 in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds were allocated for Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Native Dryland Forest plantings.
“After years of working with the legislature, including site visits to Kahoʻolawe, operational briefings at our Kīhei Boathouse and a thorough fiscal audit, we were able to gain their confidence that the KIRC could effectively and efficiently manage Kahoʻolawe’s restoration. Through this confidence, the KIRC will be able to continue its mission. We would like to thank our success to the continuing support of our Maui Legislators and especially Representative Ryan Yamane, Representative Sylvia Luke and Senator Jill Tokuda,” acknowledges KIRC Executive Director Mike Nāhoʻopiʻi
Supported by a $100,000 grant made through the Water Security Advisory Group (WSAG), a groundwater recharge project will additionally engage community volunteers in the planting of 10,000 native plants and construction of 500 additional feet of soil erosion control devices geared to restore 100 acres of the Kahoʻolawe’s Hakioawa Watershed. The goal is to capture 67,885,000 gallons of water (thereby preserved by potable means) and reduce soil runoff by 20% (from 1,880 tons per year of sediment runoff to 1,500 tons).
Accelerated land erosion is a major stressor that leads to increased turbidity and sedimentation, severely threatening the sustainability of marine resources and reducing their resilience to climate change impacts. Further, it prevents native flora and fauna from establishing in their home environments, thereby endangering our Island ecosystems.
“Since the end of the Navy’s unexploded ordnance cleanup in 2004, the KIRC has begun a race against time to stem erosion and any further degradation,” remarks Nāhoʻopiʻi, “Strategies addressing erosion control, botanical and faunal restoration and the control of invasive alien species are underway, but are restricted by the technical limitations of past unexploded ordnance clearances that create an island-wide patchwork of land use restrictions that hamper restoration activities. This specific funding will position our team to work directly with volunteers so that they become more educated about the impact that Kahoʻolawe has on their home communities.”
“Approximately 100,000 native plants have been established in this watershed since 2003, with ʻaʻaliʻi shrubs observed naturally reproducing from seed,” remarks KIRC Restoration team member Lyman Abbott, “In time, the headwaters of Hakioawa watershed will once again become a secondary successional dry land native forest, allowing native organisms to flourish on habitat-specific plant species that are contributing to groundwater recharge.”
You can learn more about Kahoʻolawe at http://www.kahoolawe.hawaii.gov/home.php