Senator Daniel K. Inouye leaves behind a magnificent legacy of conservation in Hawai‘i. His decades-long support for funding and policies to protect Hawai‘i’s forests, reefs and natural areas accomplished great things for our state, helping to protect the islands’ unique natural heritage and unparalleled beauty for all of Hawai‘i’s people. The Nature Conservancy, working with many public and private conservation partners, is honored to have collaborated on many of these, most notably:
• Addition of 116,000 acres of Kahuku Ranch to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, the largest conservation transaction in the history of the state of Hawai‘i, through appropriations totaling $22 million to purchase the land from the Damon Estate.
• Establishment of National Wildlife Refuges in some of our most important natural areas, including Hakalau Forest on Hawai‘i Island, Oʻahu Forest and James Campbell Refuges on Oʻahu, and Palmyra Atoll, 1,000 miles south of Hawai‘i.
• Establishment of the first Hawai‘i U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy projects protecting more than 8,000 acres of important forests in south Kona.
• Funding for invasives species prevention and control programs, including protection against the introduction of brown tree snakes that have devastated bird populations on Guam, and support for Invasive Species Committees across Hawai‘i to tackle the most pressing invasive pest threats in the field, including Miconia, coqui frogs, and fire ants.
• Establishment of forest management programs and captive breeding facilities for Hawaii’s fragile and highly endangered native forest bird populations, some of which teeter on the brink of extinction.
• Core support for marine management efforts across Hawai‘i, including federal funding and other support that allowed scientists and managers to better understand and care for coral reefs throughout the Hawaiian Island chain and the Pacific, and for research and care for endangered Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles.
Senator Inouye and his dedicated staff always recognized and took critical action to ensure the future health of our islands’ environment. He understood the direct connection between a healthy environment, a healthy economy, our quality of life, and our very ability to survive in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We remember fondly when Senator Inouye flew by helicopter over the great native forests of Hawai‘i Island and found their rich and unique expanse breathtaking, renewing his commitment to protecting them.
We honor and thank Senator Daniel K. Inouye for his steadfast support for Hawaii’s irreplaceable native forests and coral reefs, and for investing in good stewardship of our lands and waters. We will all miss him and his exemplification of the qualities of Hawai‘i that we most admire: those of building lasting friendships around shared values and goals, and a personal commitment to the people of Hawai‘i and this magnificent place that is our home.
December 21, 2012