Bill Would Help DLNR Protect Our Native Forests

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

I recently accompanied the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) on a site visit to the summit of Mount Kaala to discuss watershed protection and other issues relating to protecting our native forests. The Natural Area Reserves System (NARS) was established to preserve and manage Hawaii’s natural resources. The system presently consists of 20 reserves on five islands, encompassing 123,431 acres of the state’s most unique ecosystems, many of which occur nowhere else in the world. Oahu’s Mount Kaala is home to rare native plants and animals, like the critically endangered Oahu tree snail, or kahuli, that clings to existence in an ancient forest near the misty summit.

These fragile ecosystems are under attack. Invasive pests wreak havoc on our native forest, which has dire consequences if left unchecked. Because of extensive budget cuts to DLNR, NARS must rely on the federal government and an extensive volunteer group to assist in management projects that include the removal of feral ungulates and non-native weeds. This is an area where the recently created Public Lands Development Corporation via Act 55 can help DLNR. The intent of this body is to generate revenue for the department to eventually be self-sustaining and fund the needs of the department. I believe the state must make a solid commitment to ensure that our native forests will be around now and in the future, and understand the important role native forests play in our state’s water resources and economy. My intent is to seek stable funding for the preservation of special places such as Mount Kaala and the protection of our watershed areas for the generations to come.

Art at the Capitol

The Legislature has been conducting an “Art at the Capitol” day each session. This allows the public an opportunity to view the art work in legislators’ offices who choose to participate. My office will participate, as we did last year. Fortunately, my schedule allowed me to be there for at least part of the time, and I was able to explain some of the artwork in my office. Some of the pieces belong to me while the others are state property. However, each piece chosen from the state collection was personally selected by me because of a particular significance for me. There is one piece of art of Liliuokalani Church in Haleiwa that I obtained from the state collection. This year, Art at the Capitol will be Friday, March 2, 57 p.m. The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts reports there are more than 900 pieces of artwork in the state Capitol. A documentary of Ruthadell Anderson, artist of the Senate and House tapestries, and Keiki Sato, sister of artist Tadashi Sato, who did the Aquarius mosaic, also will be featured.

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz represents District 22. Contact him at 622-2000.