Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Support the KIRC during this year's Legislative Session

Please submit testimony for KIRC bills SB2743 & HB2101


The purpose of this Act is to utilize a portion of state conveyance tax revenue to replenish the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund to be used for the long-term rehabilitation and maintenance of the Kaho‘olawe island reserve.


The mission of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) is to implement the vision for Kaho‘olawe Island in which the kino (body) of Kaho‘olawe is restored and na poe o Hawai‘i (the people of Hawai‘i) care for to land. The Commission has pledged to provide for the meaningful and safe use of Kaho‘olawe for the purpose of the traditional and cultural practices of the native Hawaiian people and to undertake the restoration of the island and its waters. To many, Kaho‘olawe is a symbol of resilience, hope for the future of the Hawaiian Nation, and an opportunity to rebuild a cultural heritage.

The KIRC has received no public assistance since its 1993 inception, despite the federally mandated report citing “in the short term, federal funds will provide the bulk of the program support for specific soil conservation projects and related activities. In the longer term, however, state revenues will be needed to continue and enhance those activities initiated with federal funds."

As it stands, the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund will be depleted in 2016 – halting the restoration of Kahoolawe – unless we secure the commitment of the State and Federal Government as well as the people of Hawaii.


If you have not done so already, register with the Hawaii Legislature website at This will allow you to submit testimony without the need to re-enter required information, and receive hearing notice notifications by e-mail (generally, we are only given 72-hours notice that our bill has been scheduled for its next hearing, so receiving these timely notifications is important).

Visit and enter the KIRC bills (SB2743 & HB2101) into the “Bill Status/ Measure Status” box and click “GO”

Click “Submit Testimony” to enter your details and testimony (feel free to use the sample below – or – to customize your own testimony based on one or more of the talking points below).

*BONUS* Please take 5 minutes and submit your testimony to the Maui County Council Members addressed below. You may copy the emails and paste.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

The KIRC SUPPORTS these bills for the following reasons:

As the only island listed on the National Register of Historic Places in its entirety, containing nearly 3,000 archaeological sites and features, it is imperative that the State preserves this important resource for current and future generations through this financial support system.

Without the KIRC’s ongoing protection of Kaho’olawe’s coastal ecosystem, including the adjacent nearshore environment and coral reefs that can be covered with, and choked by, derelict fishing gear, nets, a huge variety of plastics and other debris items, species  including the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, threatened green sea turtle, endangered hawksbill sea turtle, endangered humpback whale, endangered Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel, and endangered Newell’s shearwater will be put at risk. It is imperative that a trust fund be stabilized to continue this work.

Kaho‘olawe is a unique ecosystem preserving immensely valuable cultural and biological resources. It is surrounded by the richest marine ecosystems remaining in the Main Hawaiian islands and providing replenishment of fish and invertebrates to other islands’ waters. The KIRC’s massive restoration program designed to revitalize the ecology and cultural history of the island will benefit all of Hawai‘i's people for generations to come. Please support bill (SB2743 or HB2101).

As the only Island Reserve set up entirely in trust for a Native Hawaiian Sovereign Entity, the KIRC is well poised to change the economic landscape and life quality of Native Hawaiians and the communities in which they reside by means of a truly unique experience on the island of Kaho‘olawe. The State must maintain the responsibility of supporting the Kaho‘olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund.


Decimated of its natural environment through years of over foraging and military bombing, an estimated 1.9 million tons of soil is lost annually on Kaho’olawe to erosion. Severely eroded landscapes cover one-third of the island, with runoff choking the Reserve’s pristine reefs and significantly impacting the ocean ecosystem. The Reserve’s inventory of 3,000 cultural sites and features – all part of the National Register of Historic Places – are in constant need of protection from these damaging circumstances. Despite an extensive, 10-year cleanup by the U.S. Navy, unexploded ordnance litter one-third of the island and all surrounding waters, leaving areas off-limits and life-threatening.

A portion of the Navy’s cleanup budget was allocated as a trust fund for the 1993-instated Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC), established by the State of Hawai‘i to manage Kaho‘olawe, its surrounding waters, and its resources, in trust for the general public and for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity. Since the Navy’s 2003 transfer of control-of-access to the State of Hawai‘i, the KIRC has worked with thousands of inspired volunteers to implement the vision for Kaho’olawe through its Restoration, Ocean, Cultural and Operations programs.

The KIRC has received no public assistance since its 1993 inception, despite the federally mandated report citing “in the short term, federal funds will provide the bulk of the program support for specific soil conservation projects and related activities. In the longer term, however, state revenues will be needed to continue and enhance those activities initiated with federal funds."

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Ka palupalu o Kanaloa

Meet Kanaloa kahoolawensis, a critically endangered species recognized under the US Endangered Species Act  and the only of its kind found in the wild.

Discovered in 1992 by the botanists Ken Wood and Steve Perlman of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, the single remaining plant grows on the cliffs of Ale'ale Pu'uloae on a sea stack off the coast of Kaho'olawe. Two specimens, grown from seed of the wild plant, live in propagation facilities on Maui: Ho`olawa Farms (Haiku) and Maui Nui Botanical Garden (Kahului).

Transplanted into a large redwood box in 2009, the plant specimen at Maui Nui Botanical Garden produced roots that go all the way through the container, with flowers and pollen samples collected and stored. (Read Maui writer Shannon Wianecki's brief overview here).

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, Hawaiian cultural practitioner, Kumu Hula, and Maui Nui Botanical Gardens Board member, Kapono`ai Molitau, gave an awe-inspiring blessing for the Kanaloa kahoolaweensis tree located at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens.  He performed an oli which called upon the Hawaiian deities of Kanaloa, Kāne, Lono, Kū and others to bring protection and blessings to the critically endangered plant and to encourage its growth.  The oli lasted for several minutes as he circled the new planter box and chanted with a  powerful voice that brought a profound feeling of positivity to the immediate area.  During the ceremony, Kapono`ai was accompanied by one of his sons, MNBG Garden Manager, Tamara Sherrill, and MNBG Executive Director, Joylynn Paman.  The chant was spiritually moving for those who were present and the positive mana that was felt from the oli and from being in the presence of such an incredible plant, was a reminder of our kuleana to do all that we can for the survival of Kanaloa and the enduring symbol that this plant is for the island of Kaho`olawe. – (Update offered by Maui Nui Botanical Garden Executive Director Joylynn Paman)

On the brink of extinction since its discovery in 1992, Kanaloa kahoolawensis is in danger from random stochastic events such as high winds, tsunami, hurricane, landslides, drought and fire, due to extremely small population numbers. While these random events simply cannot be prevented, motivating local propagation facilities will help to preserve this critically endangered native Hawaiian plant. Only diligence and a constant effort to propagate plants will help bring this endangered plant back into the lowland dry to mesic ecosystems it used to inhabit.

To support these efforts and the Restoration Program of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, visit

Every bit helps!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

JOIN US! Community Work Day: Saturday, Jan 25th

With its 1993-allocated Federal trust fund projected to sustain on-island operations only through 2016, the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission has begun to focus efforts on building a grassroots support system aimed at strengthening connections with the people of Hawai'i.

In 2002, Governor Linda Lingle set-aside an 8.261-acre parcel in Kihei, Maui for KIRC's future use as an information center, boathouse, and native Hawaiian plant nursery (reference Executive Order No. 3963, executed February 19, 2002).  Currently occupied by the KIRC's boathouse and by a section of the South Maui Coastal Heritage Corridor Trail, this property is the new focal point for a series of grants received through the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Atherton Family Foundation and Alu Like, Inc.'s Native Hawaiian Career and Technical Education Program. Over the course of the next 2 years, KIRC will collaborate with its committed partners and extraordinary volunteer base to develop a native plant nursery, traditional hale, walking trail with native plants and interpretive educational signage and a series of educational programs for the public. Ultimately, these projects will set the stage for the development of a Kaho'olawe cultural center on the Kihei property.

"A majority of residents have little knowledge of Kaho′olawe's importance to Hawaiians, and very few have had the opportunity to visit the island as a volunteer," remarks KIRC Executive Director Mike Nāho'opi'i. Volunteer participation involves a four-day stay on Kaho′olawe with 10-hour work days in the harsh sun and wind to remove non-native and re-plant vegetation, conduct surveys and honor ancient Hawaiian cultural practices. The KIRC has a two-year waiting list for those interested in volunteering and receives innumerable inquiries regarding other opportunities for involvement � exhibiting a clear demand for the experience and education that the Reserve offers. "By creating community work day opportunities on Maui, we aim to strengthen understanding of and connection to Kaho'olawe for countless residents and visitors."

The first community work day, scheduled for Saturday, January 25th from 8 AM - 12 PM, will focus on clearing invasive brush and grass. To reach the event area, enter the Kihei boat ramp parking lot and follow the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission signage. Closed-toe shoes, long pants and long sleeved shirts are recommended as we will be working in thick brush under kiawe trees.  Please bring gloves, water bottles, sun-protection, and snacks.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Kaho'olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund in support of these projects, send your contribution to the KIRC at 811 Kolu Street, Suite 201, Wailuku HI 96793 or give online at (donor designation #130). Every dollar makes a difference.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 Legislative Session: Get Involved!

In preparation for the 2014 legislative session, (which begins today: January 15), we are inviting video submissions from school classrooms and other youth groups that address "how a bill becomes a law."

Using one or more of the KIRC’s legislative goals as a focal point, our hope is to ignite a new ROCK THE VOTE movement amongst the generation that will carry on the KIRC's restoration efforts on Kaho'olawe.


1) Review the KIRC's 3-part legislative package below and pick one (or more!) proposals to depict in live action.

2) Using your video camera, Smartphone, GoPro or other crafty device, create a movie (up to 3 minutes) illustrating how the bill of your choice will become law.

3) Share your video link with us using Dropbox, Facebook, YouTube or Vimeo.

4) The KIRC will share your entries with its entire social network!

Stay in touch with this year's legislative session by following us on Twitter ( and Facebook ( - or - email us at  for updates!
KIRC Legislative Goals for 2014

1) Conveyance Tax: KIRC proposes a portion of Conveyance Tax revenues to be used to supplement the Kaho’olawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund for the long-term rehabilitation and maintenance of the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve.  Currently this work is financed through grant awards and a percentage of the 1993 U.S. Navy cleanup budget, which is anticipated to be exhausted by the end of FY2016. Conveyance Tax is a progressive deed transfer tax applied to all transfers of real property. The balance is then transferred into the State’s general fund. Current recipients of conveyance tax funding include the Natural Area Reserves, Legacy Lands and Affordable Housing. 

2) Asset Forfeiture Bill: This bill authorizes the KIRC to use asset forfeiture or seizure of property in the event of a crime within the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve. The sheer volume and last-minute negotiations of bills heard last session (2013) caused the bill to stall before its final committee vote and presentation on the House Floor. Through ongoing communications with the Maui boating community, the bill has been amended to serve the best interests of everyone.  We hope for a hearing and vote this session.

3) Capital Improvements: KIRC requests Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding to develop a sustainable energy and infrastructure system for Kaho`olawe.  This request entails major infrastructure changes to the island that will sustainably expand access for the people of Hawai`i.  In support of creating the first energy independent island in Hawai`i, the largest portion of this request will support a stand-alone, battery storage photovoltaic energy system for Kaho`olawe that will reduce — and eventually eliminate — the need for fossil fuels on-island.