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$1.5 trillion spending bill includes millions to protect Hawaiʻi’s environment and wildlife

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The $1.5 trillion spending bill passed by the US House for FY2022 includes $6 million to Haleakalā National Park to expand public access to recreational activities and the Kaupō Gap Trail. Photo Courtesy: National Park Service

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, a $1.5 trillion spending bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on Tuesday, includes millions in funding to protect Hawaiʻi’s environment.

The bill makes critical investments in environmental protection for lands and oceans, including efforts to protect endangered species.

“The bill makes substantial further federal investments to help Hawai’i  conserve our ‘āina for future generations and protect endangered species,” said Rep. Ed Case (HI-01), who serves on the Appropriations Committee and of the House Committee on Natural Resources. 

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“Especially key for Hawai‘i is $6 million to the National Park Service to expand Haleakalā National Park on Maui to create more recreational opportunities and enhance access to the Kaupō Gap Trail,” Rep. Case added.

This portion of Kaupō Ranch spans from the volcanic crater rim down 10,000 feet to the ocean. The acquisition will expand Haleakalā National  Park to protect important natural resources, including priority watersheds and endangered species facing a warming climate, and will ensure public access to recreational activities and the Kaupō Gap Trail. 

Rep. Case said in a press release that he also helped secure increased funding for ocean protection, including corals and wildlife. The reefs provide a buffer to the effects of climate change, protect shorelines and anchor Hawaiʻi’s economy from transportation to tourism. 

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“We cannot truly protect our planet without protecting our  oceans,” Rep. Case said.

Hawai’i environmental highlights of the spending bill include:

Mālama I Ka ‘Āina (Caring for the Land) 

  • $17 million for the National Trails System, which will benefit the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. 
  • $108 million for the Endangered Species Recovery Account to protect and restore endangered species, including $4 million for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s State of the Birds program that focuses on endangered birds in Hawai‘i. 
  • $300,000 for the City and County of Honolulu to develop its city-wide Tree Inventory and Management Plan. 
  • $3.3 billion for the National Park Service, $142 million above the FY  2022 enacted level, to help support Hawaiʻi’s two national parks and various historic sites and parks.
  • $52 million for the US Geological Survey’s National and Regional  Climate Adaptation Science Centers, including the Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center based out of the University of  Hawaiʻi. 
  • $75 million for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI). The Department of Defense created the REPI Program in response to land development and loss of habitat in the vicinity of or affecting military installations, ranges and airspace that can lead to  restrictions or costly and inadequate training and testing alternatives. Through REPI, the defense department works with state and local governments, conservation organizations and willing private landowners to address these challenges to the military mission and the viability of defense installations and ranges. 
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Mālama I Ke Kai (Caring for the Oceans)  

  • $61 million for the Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas account, which supports Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
  • $148 million for the protection, research and management of marine mammals, sea turtles and other species.
  • $34 million for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, also  known as the National Coastal Resilience Fund. 
  • $33 million for the Coral Reef Conservation Program, which supports coral reef ecosystems management and research critical to national  coral reef restoration efforts. 
  • $4 million for the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grants. 
  • $415,000 for the Waikīkī Marine Life Conservation District Site Restoration project. 
  • $200,000 for the Moku o Lo‘e (Coconut Island) Marine Laboratory  Refuge Eco-Friendly Sea Wall Research project. 

Overall, the bill includes $5.9 billion for the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a large increase of $447 million above FY 2021. This funding includes $1 billion for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, which is active throughout the Pacific out of NOAA’s  regional headquarters at Ford Island, Honolulu, and $200 million to accelerate information and decisions on adaptation to our changing climate.

It also includes $6 million to maintain and repair NOAA’s Atmospheric Baseline Observatories, including the Mauna Loa Observatory where the famous Keeling Curve proving rapid climate change was developed. 

A detailed summary of the FY 2022 omnibus is available here.

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