Hawaii Invasive Species Budget Lacking

Honolulu Civil Beat - August 16, 2012
Sophie Cocke

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council has approved a $1.8 million annual budget for fiscal year 2013.

But this is not enough to fulfill statewide goals of combatting the problem that the state Legislature called “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people,” according to a DLNR press release.

The estimated amount of total funding needed is more than $13 million annually.

Since 2009, however, a reduction in general fund appropriations has decreased the total funds available annually to the HISC from $4 million to $1.8 million. That number may decrease further, as a temporary authorization to receive funds for invasive species control from the Legacy Land Conservation Program expires after the current fiscal year.

The funding for FY 2013 will go to the following:
• the Hawai‘i Ant Lab for research and response to infestations of aggressive fire ant species;
• research on biological control methods for the highly destructive plant species Miconia and Christmas berry;
• a statewide coordinator to monitor for aquatic invasive species that may arrive in ballast water; and
• the island-based Invasive Species Committees (ISCs), which monitor and control a variety of harmful species.

The ISCs were formally recognized earlier this year by Senator Mike Gabbard (Dist. 19) for their outstanding work across the state in responding to pests like Miconia, fire-prone fountain grass, coqui frogs, and mongoose.

The HISC also provided two awards this year relating to axis deer. The first was to the Big Island Invasive Species Committee, a partnership working with DLNR to eradicate axis deer from Hawai‘i Island. If incipient axis deer populations were to expand there, it would be extremely detrimental to the natural resources and economy of the island.

The second award was to the Maui Axis Deer Working Group, a collaboration of farmers, natural resource managers and staff from the County of Maui and DLNR, which has the goal of reducing the number of deer on Maui.