Land and Natural Resources: Protecting the islands we love

Posted on Dec 30, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Native forest can prevent floods.

Native forest can prevent floods.

Throughout the pandemic, the Department of Land and Natural Resource’s work has been both front and center and behind-the-scenes, but its goals remain the same: to protect Hawai‘i’s people and natural resources. Together with the state’s energy and planning offices as well as legislative support, Hawai‘i achieved in 2021 a record number of “firsts” that will leave a legacy of environmental protection from the Ige administration.

The actions include 1) a new fee structure and management system to regulate the flow of visitors to popular “hotspots” that is already generating record amounts of revenue for maintenance; 2) 42 newly trained officers who will be deployed in 2022 to fill staffing gaps and provide better field enforcement, especially during the pandemic; 3) requirements for state agencies to rent electric or hybrid vehicles, financing for electric vehicle charging systems and clean ground transportation goals.

New laws promote electric vehicles statewide.

New laws promote electric vehicles statewide.

Other legislation better protects the state’s ocean resources, including the first state nonresident recreational fishing license; a precedent-setting requirement for real estate transactions to identify properties lying within sea level rise exposure areas; establishment of an ocean stewardship special fund; and other measures that protect the most sensitive nearshore island waters. In addition, DLNR has launched an exciting new site at dlnr.hawaii.gov/ecosystems/nars/ where anyone can take a virtual tour of the state’s spectacular nature preserves and donate to help preserve them. Also, the Hawai‘i State Energy Office has been awarded a two-year FEMA grant to support the state’s critical infrastructure and energy lifelines.

All these actions support the governor’s Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, the Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan and the state’s climate goals and clean energy commitments. “Our vision includes a diversified economy rebuilt sustainably, not a simple return to business as usual post-pandemic,” said Governor Ige. At COP26, the UN climate summit in Scotland, Hawai‘i was recognized for its climate change leadership. “We showed how a small island state like Hawai‘i can move the world with innovation, big ambition and action,” said the governor.

Read more in the January Capitol Connection newsletter.

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