June 3 deadline for conservation reimbursements to farmers and ranchers

June 3, 2010, 6:34 AM HST · Updated June 3, 6:34 AM
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The state is offering reimbursement to Hawaii farmers and ranchers who have created conservation easements to protect significant natural resources.  The requests to the Hawaii Conservation Reserve Enhancement program are due by 4 o’clock this afternoon (June 3, 2010).  For more information go to www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw/crep or call 587-4167.

Hawai‘i farmers and ranchers who have enrolled in a joint state and federal program to establish conservation easements that promote restoration of degraded agricultural lands and sustainable land management practices, are invited to submit requests for reimbursements. The reimbursements are intended to support the continued efforts of nonprofits and landowners interested in conservation easements throughout the state.

Under the Hawai‘i Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), funding support is available to assist with conservation easements in eligible areas that  support the restoration of degraded agricultural lands and protect these lands from development or conversion, and to promote sustainable land management practices across the state.

Eligible lands for the Hawai‘i CREP include agriculturally productive lands on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i that are in need of some level of restoration.

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DLNR’s principal objective for this request is to support the establishment of conservation easements on eligible CREP lands, and as such is offering assistance to nonprofits and landowners that have, or will close, a conservation easement during this State fiscal year.

The Hawai‘i Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program aims to encourage Hawai‘i farmers and ranchers to participate in an innovative conservation program that will help restore habitats of native Hawaiian species, improve water quality in stream systems, reduce the spread of invasive species and enhance coastal and coral reef health.

In April 2009, the CREP program began to voluntarily enroll farmers and ranchers who wanted to commit to conservation practices — such as converting the land to native trees, shrubs, grasses and other vegetation or wetland restoration measures. In return they will receive incentive rental payments and cost-share reimbursement for their expenses. This reimbursement process is now underway.

Hawai‘i CREP aims to enroll up to 15,000 acres of marginal pastureland and cropland that will be converted to natural areas over 20 years. This land-based restoration will improve water quality and wildlife habitat and protect vital watersheds and riparian areas on agricultural land on six of the main Hawaiian islands.

Proposals in response to this solicitation are due by June 3, 2010 at 4 p.m. to the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.  The division will evaluate all responses to this solicitation, and can provide assistance with required due diligence materials associated with conservation easements (due diligence materials may include necessary compliance documents such as appraisals of land value, environmental site assessments, and title reports, among others).

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