Maui News

Hawaiʻi receiving $14 million in federal funding to combat invasive mosquitoes

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Southern house mosquito (Culex quinquefaciatus). PC: courtesy James Gathany, USCDCP via Birds, Not Mosquitoes

More than $14 million in federal funding from the US Department of the Interior will go to conservation programs to tackle invasive mosquitoes in the State of Hawaiʻi as a priority distribution from the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Package enacted last year.

“The funding will assist the state in combating mosquitoes that especially threaten critically endangered Hawaiian forest birds which are found nowhere else in the world,” said US Rep. Ed Case of Hawaiʻi who announced the new funding.

It is Hawaiʻi’s latest disbursement from the infrastructure law. Hawaiʻi already received $49 million for the state’s airports in December; $339 million in January to repair and maintain the state’s bridges and culverts over the next five years; $3.6 million in March to lower energy costs from the Weatherization Assistance Program; and more than $61 million in April for the state to buy new buses, address their repair backlogs, modernize their fleets and transition to new technologies to address the climate crisis. 

The new funding for Hawaiʻi will address invasive species, which pose an especially grave threat to Hawaiʻi’s unique ecosystems, natural resources and agricultural communities. Hawai‘i has become the endangered species and extinction capital of the world — in large part due to the invasive species. Hawai‘i currently has 502 species listed as endangered, more than any other state and almost half of the total endangered species nationwide, according to a news release from the office of Rep. Case, who is a member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Many of the species on which invasive mosquitoes prey, such as the Kiwikiu (a endemic Hawaiian  honeycreeper), are critically endangered and face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.  Although the true number of species that have gone extinct in Hawai‘i may never be known, best estimates are that 28 bird, 72 snail, 74 insect and 97 plant species have gone extinct in the past 200 years.

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Rep. Case said the federal conservation aid from the infrastructure law includes $1.4 billion for Ecosystem Restoration and Resilience that will be administered by the US Department of the Interior for habitat restoration to control  invasive species like mosquitoes and conserve at-risk listed species.

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“This is just the latest of many disbursements to Hawai‘i from the [Bipartisan Infrastructure Package], the largest federal reinvestment ever in our backbone infrastructure across the  country,” Case said.

The law will deliver about $3 billion to the state for roads and bridges, water infrastructure, climate resilience projects, access to the Internet and other projects.

Case is also a member of the House Appropriations Committee,  responsible for all federal discretionary spending including the recent $1.5  trillion Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act.  

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Hawai’i also will receive $6 million to help acquire a 3,018-acre parcel adjacent to Haleakalā National Park. 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. 

Additional programs and provisions in the Act that will go through the Department of the Interior include:

  • $4 million for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s State of the Birds program. These funds support efforts to recover the most endangered Hawaiian forest bird species. 
  • $330 million for National Park Service State Assistance Grants. 
  • Instructing the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations to expand the federal government’s Native Hawaiian community consultation efforts. 
  • $33 million, a $3 million increase, for the US Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program. This includes funding for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which monitors the active volcanoes in Hawai‘i, assesses their hazards, issues warnings and advances scientific understanding to reduce impacts of volcanic eruptions. 
  • $1.5 million, a $250,000 increase, for the National Park Service American Indian and Native Hawaiian Art and Culture Grants program. 
  • $58 million for State Historic Preservation Offices. 

The Act also includes: 

  • $1.1 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and $1.6 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides funding to  Hawaiʻi’s regulated water systems for Hawaiʻi’s water infrastructure  projects. 
  • $92 million for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program, which includes funding to address Red Hill issues. 
  • $40 million for the US Geological Survey Biological Threats and  Invasive Species Research Program.
     
  • $17 million for the National Trails System, which will benefit the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail on the Big Island. 

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