Maui News


April 1, 2009, 3:29 PM HST
* Updated April 1, 4:17 PM
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President Obama signed a bill into law that includes provisions for a memorial at Kalaupapa, an advisory commission for Kaloko-Honokohau, and funding for the National Tropical Botanical Garden.

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka praised the enactment of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146), following his attendance at the Presidential signing ceremony at the White House.

“It was an honor to see President Obama sign this legislation containing several environmental and cultural preservation measures that will benefit Hawaii into law.  This is the beginning of an important national effort to protect and preserve our resources, including Hawaii‘s unique cultural heritage and biodiversity, for future generations,” said Akaka.

“The monument at Kalaupapa will honor the patients’ resolve and provide closure to their ancestors.  It will keep the memory of this tragic chapter of Hawaii’s history alive for future generations to learn from.  The Kaloko-Honokohau Park Advisory Commission will be critical in preserving unique, treasured cultural sites including two types of fish ponds and the ‘Ai’opio fish trap.  And I am hopeful that authorizing federal funds for the National Tropical Botanical Garden will allow it to continue its important work in biological and medical research for years to come.”

The omnibus bill includes four measures sponsored by Senator Akaka in the 110th Congress:


The Kalaupapa Memorial Act (S. 2502) establishes a memorial honoring the Hansen’s disease patients of Kalaupapa and Kalawao within the Kalaupapa National Historical Park.  This measure would authorize a non-profit organization consisting of Kalaupapa residents and their family and friends, and known as Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, to establish a memorial at a suitable location in the park to honor the memory of the 8,000 residents who lived at the Kalaupapa and Kalawao communities.


The Na Hoa Pili O Kaloko-Honokohau Advisory Commission Reauthorization Act (S. 1728) re-authorizes the Advisory Commission for Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park through 2018.  Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, located on the Western coast of the Big Island, was established in 1978 to provide for the preservation, interpretation, and perpetuation of the Park’s cultural and natural features.

The Outdoor Recreation Act of 1963 Amendments Act (S. 2220), authorizes $5 million over the course of ten years to the National Tropical Botanical Garden for operation and maintenance.  Since 1976, the National Tropical Botanical Gardens has worked to preserve and cultivate native Hawaiian plants, and has made its program of preserving Hawaii’s endangered and threatened flora a matter of the highest priority.

The Paleontological Resource Preservation Act (S. 320) provides for the protection of fossil resources on federal lands, curbs fossil theft, while continuing to allow the practice of casual collecting enjoyed on federal lands.


“This bill will create a comprehensive national policy for preserving and managing fossils and other artifacts found on Federal land to help our nation protect our fossils from illegal and premeditated collection to supply the commercial market.  The civil and criminal penalties will provide strong disincentives to those who consider illegally taking such resources from federal lands,” Akaka said.

In addition, the omnibus bill includes the Izembek and Alaska Peninsula Refuge Enhancement Act of 2008 (S. 1680), cosponsored by Senator Akaka.  This act authorizes a discretionary land exchange, subject to the National Environmental Policy Act and a public interest determination by the Secretary of Interior, to allow construction of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to support the health and safety needs of a rural and Alaska Native community.

These five provisions mirror the versions passed in the Senate as S. 22. on January 15, 2009.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act is collectively one of the most significant conservation bills in this past decade according to Akaka.  It adds over 2 million new acres of the National Wilderness Preservation System; designates three new units to the National Park System; enlarges the boundaries of several existing parks; creates a new national monument and three new national conservation areas; and adds over 1,000 new miles to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and over 2,800 miles of new trails that will be part of the National Trails System.

In signing the Act into law, President Obama underscored the nation’s commitment to serve as a responsible steward of the nation’s public lands, cultural and natural resources.

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009; Information provided by the office of Sen. Daniel Akaka)

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