Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Is There Funding for the Little Fire Ant Invasion?

March 2, 2015, 7:20 AM HST
* Updated March 9, 10:56 AM
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Little fire ants on pb chopstick. Photo credit HAL.

Little fire ants on pb chopstick. Photo credit HAL.

The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.

By Mayor Alan Arakawa

Q: With new infestations of the Little Fire Ants, and with Maui Invasive Species Committee Manager Teya Penniman being quoted as saying they “clearly don’t have enough resources to stop it,” is the county having any immediate success getting more funds? This is clearly a situation where we can’t come back at a later time to solve the problem. If funds cannot be found now, it will be too late for our island: the economy will be hurt and eventually everyone’s life will become a whole lot less pleasant. What is the county doing right now–and can the public do anything to help get federal or state money for more eradication efforts? How can we help you become the administration that rose to the challenge and didn’t fail the community with inaction?

A: Thank you for your questions and concerns. The presence of Little Fire Ants on our island is indeed something we must take very seriously as this introduced pest could dramatically impact our quality of life on Maui for years to come. This year I addressed the State Legislature and again asked them to provide immediate funding for education, outreach and control of invasive species here in Maui County, specifically the Little Fire Ant (LFA). My legislative liaison, Jock Yamaguchi, has spoken with our Maui legislators, including Speaker Joe Souki and Rep. Justin Woodson, to support measures that will adequately fund the DLNR (SB 1046 and SB 544). This funding will be distributed by the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council (HISC) to the individual counties. For many years, the county has supported and helped fund the work of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC), and in fact asked for additional funds this year for rapid response to LFA. To answer your question about what can the public do to get more money for these efforts, you can supply testimony for the state bills online at www.capitol.hawaii.gov. It will also be helpful for concerned individuals like yourself to provide testimony requesting funding for eradication during the County Council’s upcoming budget deliberations.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

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Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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