Maui News

$350K in federal funds secured to protect endangered species on Molokaʻi

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US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) secured $350,000 in congressionally directed spending, also known as earmarks, in this year’s appropriations bill for the Molokaʻi Land Trust. The new earmark funding will be used to support construction of predator-proof fencing to protect threatened and endangered species within the Mokio Preserve.

Volunteers along the cliffs of the Mokio Preserve remove invasive weeds and make room for new native seedlings. PC: file Hawaiian Airlines

“This new earmark will protect dozens of threatened and endangered species on Molokaʻi,” said Sen. Schatz, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “By supporting the Molokaʻi Land Trust, we’re helping to care for native wildlife, strengthen local ecosystems, and preserve the island’s environment for years to come.”

“Molokaʻi Land Trust is honored and humbled to receive this support through Senator Schatz’s office, and it represents an enormous commitment to conservation of our unique genetic diversity here in Hawai‘i and protection of designated critical habitat for numerous federally listed species. Most importantly, the completion of the predator proof fence to protect over 90 acres along this section of coastline will help provide high quality nesting habitat for the expansion of current seabird populations, and future dislocated populations from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands that will be negatively impacted from projected sea level rise. We would like to thank all those involved in helping make this a reality for our community,” said William “Butch” Haase, Executive Director of the Molokaʻi Land Trust.

Moloka‘i axis deer. (Dec. 9, 2021) PC: DLNR Hawaiʻi

This funding will help protect endangered ground nesting seabirds, Hawaiian yellow face bees, and many plant species through habitat restoration and safety from invasive, non-native predators. The 60 acre site for the species in the Mokio Preserve is protected by a temporary fence that has enabled them to begin recovering their populations, and the construction of a permanent fence will allow them to better do so. Two rare species that were extinct in the wild, including the Hawai‘i state flower Hibiscus brackenridgei or Mao hau hele, have already been reintroduced through a partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. The new predator proof fence will expand the protected site to over 90 acres when completed by early 2023.

The new congressionally directed funding in this year’s appropriations bill marks the first year members of Congress were able to make earmark requests since they were banned in 2011. Schatz secured more than $240 million in federal earmarks for local nonprofits and state and local agencies.

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The bill passed the Senate on Thursday and now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

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