Maui News

Maui Mayor Proposes Creation of Sustainability Division

September 13, 2011, 2:36 PM HST
* Updated September 13, 3:18 PM
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By Wendy Osher

[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UJx2Zy_a38 /] Mayor Alan Arakawa is proposing the creation of a new Division of Sustainability as part of the Department of Environmental Management on Maui.

“As much as I’m trying to downsize our government, at the same time, we need to redirect our government efforts into the areas that are critical for our community,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa.

Mayor Arakawa proposed the creation of the new division in the form of a charter amendment, that if approved by commission members, would go before voters in the next election.

“This division, I believe is an absolute necessity,” he said.

Axis deer, photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy.

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Arakawa said many environmental issues have turned costly including programs that were born out of the growing threats of invasive miconia plants and coqui frogs, as well as axis deer and feral animal control.

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“We’re having to deal with things like the feral chickens that are running around that are going to be creating a huge health hazard for us. We’re having to deal with almost all of the invasive species that are coming in. And very simple issues like what are we doing with all of the storm waters that are flooding our communities,” said Mayor Arakawa.

Arakawa said the control of populations that have inundated our communities will not come cheap.  “Cost for that is going to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars damage if we don’t,” said Arakawa.

“Unless we put a concentrated effort on dealing with these issues, they are going to become huge economic challenges to our community,” he said.

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To start, the Mayor suggested having people who are assigned to deal with issues of sustainability on a daily basis, and task them with working on solutions.

“We cannot have random organizations trying to hopefully, maybe, get funding, and personnel to deal with major issues.  We have to be absolutely, positively sure we’re dealing with the kinds of issues that are going to be affecting all of our communities, and are currently affecting all of our communities,” said Arakawa.

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