Critical Habitat Considered for 271,062 Acres on Maui
By Wendy Osher
A council committee will review a proposal on Monday that seeks the designation of 271,062 acres on Maui as critical habitat for endangered species.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is seeking approval for the proposed designation, will make a presentation before the council’s Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee during a meeting set to start at 9 a.m. The agency is currently accepting written comments on the proposal through March 4, 2013.
Council Chair Gladys Baisa responded to the proposal saying, “While I am in strong support of preserving our county’s natural resources and protecting our threatened or endangered species, I also want to ensure that the potential impacts to the community are taken into consideration.”
At a public hearing in Kihei last week, Baisa raised concerns about the designation’s potential impact on Maui County’s farmers and ranchers. She also raised concerns over potential indirect consequences to landowners saying, “critical habitat designations on lands within the state agricultural district may cause the state to reclassify those areas as conservation districts. A conservation district land use classification would subject landowners to additional permitting requirements and restrictions on the use of their land.”
Monday’s meeting, chaired by Councilmember G. Riki Hokama, will also include consideration of board and commission nominations, as well as legislation to reform the county’s grants procedures.
Council Chair Baisa said the council and its committees will also review the following matters next week:
- Funding to preserve coastal land in West Maui. On Tuesday at 9 a.m., the Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Councilmember Mike White, will consider a bill to appropriate $6.5 million to acquire and preserve more than 186 acres at Launiupoko in the West Maui Community Plan Area. The committee will also consider proposed appropriations of $3.25 million for the new Kihei Police Station and $1.5 million for the proposed expansion of county property in the Wailuku Civic Center area known as the Kalana O Maui Campus.
- Water system management. The Water Resources Committee, chaired by Councilmember Michael P. Victorino, will meet on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. to receive an update from the Department of Water Supply on water system management and optimization, along with projected costs for accommodating future water needs. The committee will be visited by members of Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows, a leadership-development program of Decisions Maui and Focus Maui Nui.
- Maui Bus funding. On Friday at 9 a.m., the council will consider on second and final reading Bill 6 (2013), which would accept a federal grant of $800,000 for the Maui Bus. The funding will likely be used for bus purchases. 11 other bills are scheduled for final consideration at the council meeting.
Members of the public can submit testimony via email or in person. Testimony will also be accepted at the council offices in Hana, Lanai and Molokai.