H.B. NO.



H.D. 1
















     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that immediate action is needed to secure Hawaii's water supply.  Hotter, drier conditions and damaged watershed forests are escalating the costs and conflicts over water.

     While climate change is a problem on a global scale, simple, local actions can safeguard Hawaii's declining water sources.  Through Act 152, Session Laws of Hawaii 2000, the legislature recognized that fresh water is not an infinite resource and its high quality, quantity, and sustainability depend upon forested watersheds.  Without vegetation, most of our islands' rainfall would quickly run off into the ocean and be unusable.  Instead, forests break the impact of heavy rains, reducing flooding and erosion and siltation of reefs and fisheries.

     Protecting forest watersheds is the most cost effective and efficient way to absorb rainwater and replenish ground water. Watersheds also reduce impacts from climate change by absorbing greenhouse gases, which supports a component of the Hawaii clean energy initiative's goal of helping the State reach its policy targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by year 2020, as enacted by the legislature by way of Act 234, Session Laws of Hawaii 2007. Additionally, forests sustain irreplaceable cultural and natural values.

     Half of Hawaii's forests have already been lost.  Alien species, such as feral pigs and goats trample and devour vegetation, leaving bare ground or openings for alien plants that consume more water and increase runoff.  The gradual invasion of alien plants into native forests may have already reduced the estimated groundwater recharge by up to ten per cent in certain aquifers.  For example in east Hawaii, invasive plants have already reduced estimated groundwater recharge by eighty-five million gallons a day.  Controlling these and other threats requires a large-scale effort to protect these irreplaceable natural assets.

     Governor Neil Abercrombie's A New Day in Hawaii plan calls for the stewardship of the natural resources that our survival, economy, and quality of life depend on.  Priority actions of the plan include managing invasive species, increasing Hawaii's ability to withstand impacts from climate change, and restoring capabilities of the department of land and natural resources by finding additional sources of funding.  The Abercrombie administration's new day status report also tasks the department of land and natural resources to ensure mauka watersheds are fully functioning so the people of Hawaii can use and enjoy fresh water resources in perpetuity.  To implement these central goals of the Abercrombie administration, the department of land and natural resources released The Rain Follows the Forest – a plan to protect Hawaii's source of water.

     The Rain Follows the Forest identifies priority watersheds and outlines on-the-ground actions and projects required to protect and sustain Hawaii's critical water sources.  The forests and their ability to capture water depend on the protection provided by the actions listed in this plan.  To be successful, these actions must occur on a large scale across ownership boundaries, through agreements and leveraged funds provided by the statewide watershed partnerships.  Currently, only ten per cent, approximately ninety thousand acres, of the priority watershed areas are protected.  This level of management has taken forty years to achieve.  The department of land and natural resources' goal is to double the amount of protected watershed areas in just ten years.  This will require approximately $11,000,000 per year, and create over one hundred fifty local jobs.

     The legislature further finds that the State needs to direct revenues towards new priorities and move immediately to fund the protection of these watersheds and implement this comprehensive plan to ensure the availability and affordability of fresh water.  Watershed protection and restoration must be funded commensurate with its essential role.  Hawaii's leaders must come together and incorporate funding policies within the State's overall financial plan to reverse the grave decline of the islands' life-giving forests in order to sustain and enrich current and future generations.

     The purpose of this Act is to provide funds to the department of land and natural resources for the immediate protection of priority watershed forests to replenish Hawaii's water supplies and provide many other fundamental benefits to Hawaii's environmental health.

     SECTION 2.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $           or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2012-2013 to be expended on projects undertaken in accordance with watershed management plans including invasive species removal, construction and ongoing maintenance of fences, control of other forest threats, and forest restoration.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of land and natural resources for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2012.



Report Title:

Watershed Protection; Appropriation



Appropriates funds to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for the immediate protection of priority watershed forests to replenish Hawaii's water supplies and provide many other fundamental benefits to Hawaii's environmental health.  Effective July 1, 2012.  (HB2520 HD1)




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