Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday the nomination of Suzanne Case, the executive director of the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii, to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Case joined the Nature Conservancy in 1987 and took the helm of the group in 2001. The group says it manages 16 nature reserves totaling 53,000 acres. In 2003, Case oversaw the purchase of the 117,000-acre Kahuku Ranch on the Big Island and its transfer to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, according to the group’s website. She also oversaw the purchase of Palmyra Atoll, where the group manages a preserve.
Case was born in Hilo and attended Punahou School, where she was the first female student body president, according the Nature Conservancy. She graduated from Stanford University, and received a law degree from Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco.
Ige’s announcement came nearly three weeks after he pulled the nomination of his first choice to lead DLNR, Castle & Cooke Hawaii’s vice president of community relations Carleton Ching.
Ige withdrew Ching’s name on March 18 just before the full Senate was scheduled to vote on the nomination as it became clear that the governor’s controversial choice was in danger of being rejected.
Ching, a longtime lobbyist for developers in Hawaii, drew widespread opposition from environmentalists and others who did not want to see the longtime lobbyist for Hawaii developers in charge of 1.3 million acres of state land, 750 miles of coastline, fisheries, reserves and other natural resources unique to Hawaii. Members of the Senate Water and Land Committee had voted 5-2 against Ching’s nomination after hearing from about 1,120 groups and people testifying against Ching and about 270 testifying in support.