(BIVN) – $5 million in federal funds is headed to Hawaiʻi for forest enhancement, state officials say. The new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, or USDA NRCS, is under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources said “previous awards from USDA NRCS were used by DLNR in ‘win-win’ projects with agricultural producers, including support for removing invasive species and planting native trees at Parker Ranch on Hawai‘i Island. DLNR plans to seek similar partnerships with this new influx of federal funding.”
From the Hawaiʻi DLNR:
Communities in Hawaiʻi rely on fresh water from our mauka forests to maintain homes, farms, and businesses. A new federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) will provide $5 million for forest enhancement in Hawaiʻi under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPPP).
The funds are awarded to the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and will be leveraged by additional funds provided by the Hawaiʻi Legislature. The funds will support invasive weed control and restoration of native plant communities on non-industrial, privately-owned forest lands.
“Our forests don’t follow landowner boundaries,” said DLNR Chairperson Dawn Chang. “Working with private landowners to improve the health of forested areas on their lands benefits us all. We are grateful to our partners at NRCS for their support in this important work.”
In addition to the production of fresh water, native forests reduce the risk of flooding and erosion associated with degraded landscapes. Improved forests also sequester carbon, and provide habitat for native species. Hawaiʻi has more than 400 endangered species, or roughly one-third of the nation’s federally listed endangered species.
The funds are expected to provide local job opportunities in assisting with restoration activities including brush management, tree planting, weed removal and control, and wildlife habitat management.
Project leaders estimate the funds will result in the planting of 75,000 trees. Previous awards from USDA NRCS were used by DLNR in “win-win” projects with agricultural producers, including support for removing invasive species and planting native trees at Parker Ranch on Hawai‘i Island. DLNR plans to seek similar partnerships with this new influx of federal funding.