An organic farm on O‘ahu and an ethnobotanical garden on Hawai‘i Island are the newest awardees for state funding from the DLNR Legacy Land Conservation Program. The program provides grants to community organizations and government agencies that strive to purchase and protect land that shelters exceptional, unique, threatened, and endangered resources. Last Friday the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved recommendations from the Legacy Land Conservation Commission and the Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) to award three million dollars in state grants for conservation that protects resources for public benefit.
- Purchase of 21.1 acres in Wai‘anae, O‘ahu by Wai‘anae Community Redevelopment Corporation for MA‘O Organic Farms Palikea Expansion – Phase One ($750,000). A conservation easement over the property would be held by The Trust for Public Land, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, or another suitable organization. This property, farmed previously by Ryoei Higa, was the setting for a legendary incident reported in the Los Angeles Times. When a new landlord told Mr. Higa to abandon his flourishing lettuce fields to make way for a golf course, the Hawai‘i farmer had a simple retort: “No can eat golf balls.”
- Purchase of 13.6 acres in Kona, Hawai‘i by Friends of Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden for continued operation of the Garden under new management ($750,000). A conservation easement over the property would be held by the County of Hawai‘i or another suitable organization. The Garden property includes one separate parcel that holds Pa‘ikapahu Heiau and four other parcels, set amongst remnants of the Kona Field System of traditional Hawaiian agriculture, that contain over 250 native plant species, many of which are rare and endangered.
- Annual debt service payment ($1.5 million) for the State’s Turtle Bay reimbursable general obligation bond, which funded the State’s purchase of land and a conservation easement at Ko‘olauloa, O‘ahu
The BLNR also approved three grants as back-ups for $1.5 million of land purchase funding. One IS for DLNR to purchase 3,277 acres at Kula, Maui as an addition to its Kula Forest Reserve. The other two back-up grants are for The Nature Conservancy and DLNR, as partners, to purchase two conservation easements over 993 acres at Kona, Hawai‘i. For more detail about all the conservation transactions, please view the DLNR staff submittal for April 27, 2018, available at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/C-1.pdf.
Despite the regulation of land use and development in Hawai‘i, lands that hold important resource values are often unprotected, inaccessible, and threatened with damage and destruction.
The State Legislature established the Land Conservation Fund in 2005 to provide permanent adequate funding for land conservation by dedicating proceeds from the real estate conveyance tax to the Fund. The grant application and approval process includes consultation with three State agencies (DLNR, Department of Agriculture, and Agribusiness Development Corporation). The process also requires field visits and public meetings with the Legacy Land Conservation Commission; DLNR consultation with the President of the State Senate and the Speaker of the State House of Representatives, environmental review, and final approval by the BLNR, the Department of Budget and Finance, and the Governor.
The next open period for grant applications will begin in July.