Video above shows a portion of the July 2, 2014 U.S. Senate candidate forum held at Sangha Hall in Hilo, Hawaii. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is challenging incumbent Senator Brian Schatz for the position.
Video by Tim Bryan, Forum Moderated by Sherry Bracken
HILO, Hawaii – Candidates for U.S. Senate tackled the topic of land restrictions placed on large areas across Hawaii Island by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species. Developers and hunters alike have been frustrated by the critical habitat designations, especially last year’s proposal for Kona’s urban growth area of Kealakehe.
Moderator Sherry Bracken framed the question:
Last year they designated 19,000 acres Kona-side as that, and this is an ongoing continuing process. Some landowners have chosen to just dedicate part of their land so that Fish and Wildlife will be satisfied, but others have just said ‘No, we’re just not gonna build there.’
Kona Judiciary – which is a badly-needed facility on the Kona-side of the island – is an example of that. They just decided to move. So, people feel this is taking land away from private citizens. And they’re not against endangered species, they’re looking for balance.”Sherry Bracken- July 2, 2014
Rep. Hanabusa said it was similar to a situation she faced on neighbor islands.
The species are not even there but they’re creating habitat for them to return to. So the first thing we need to do is to understand exactly what’s going on.
I also had a discussion with (Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service) Dan Ashe and told him that this is a major problem and that you cannot designate huge blocks of land and I am very familiar with the Kona Courthouse because I was Judiciary Chairman when we pushed that through, as well as senate president. And there are five designated sites.
And my understanding is the first three are not acceptable because it the fact that now fish and wildlife has said that.
Having experienced it, knowing what it’s like, having developed a relationship – because we were able to successfully reduce the area at Kalaeloa – which is Barber’s Point – down to 99 acres from 292; I know what it takes and it takes that conversation. And that’s why I asked Dan Ashe to come to the Big Island and to meet the people. Look at everybody eyeball to eyeball, and explain to them why this is necessary.
You’ve got to explain what you’re doing.”Rep. Colleen Hanabusa – July 2, 2014
This was totally over the top. And Colleen’s right, too. There were large swaths of land that didn’t contain the endangered species and many of them were questionable at the very very best.
So what we did through our offices we tried to work with the county and the stakeholders and US Fish and Wildlife and the not-for-profit community to try to precipitate a mediation process. One of the best, most well-known mediators is now in the process. Right now we have probably about three or four of the various stakeholders actually entered into some kind of agreement under the mediation. There are few that aren’t satisfied yet so we’re sort of midstream in this process. But this is something that we really have to continue to work. This is not going to be over very quickly and I think on a going forward basis. You know, kinda massaging this and working this through is important.
But I think the way to avoid this in the future is to sit down with a Fish and Wildlife and some the other federal agencies that sort of get designs on portions of the Big Island, whether it be the Department of Defense or Fish and Wildlife or NOAA or NASA. We want federal investment but it starts with community it starts with Big Island people and Big Island priorities.”Sen. Brian Schatz – July 2, 2014
SPECIAL VIDEO SECTION: Schatz vs. Hanabusa (July 2, 2014)
2. Social Security
4. Kona Airport Customs
5. Fish & Wildlife Designations
6. Lending Restrictions
7. Native Hawaiian Education
8. Jones Act
9. Healthcare and Medicare
10. Pohakuloa Training Area, Saddle Road
11. Hawaii’s High Energy Rates
The event was sponsored by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Hawaii Island REALTORS®, Hawaii Island Contractors’ Association, Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association and the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. It was open to the community free of charge.