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Reps. Case and Gabbard introduce bill to study designating Hawaii’s first national forest

U.S. Reps. Ed Case and Tulsi Gabbard want to designate a forested area in Hawaii as the state’s first national forest.

Case and Gabbard introduced a bill Thursday that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study on lands that could be included as a national forest.

“Among our truly unique and endangered natural treasures are the only tropical rain forests of any state,” Case said in a news release today. “Yet we are one of the very few states in our nation which has not recognized its special forest resources with a National Forest designation.”

The news release did not list a specific forested area in Hawaii.

There are 154 national forests spread across at least 40 states in the country, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Over the last 200 years, over half of Hawaii’s forests have been lost.

“Hawaii’s forests are critical parts of our island ecosystems, home to the oldest living ancestors of this place – the flora and fauna that have so much to teach us about how to live sustainably. Our forests protect us from run-off, recharge our aquifers, provide habitat for native species, and connect us spiritually to this aina. We must explore every avenue to protect them,” Gabbard said.

In April, both representatives also asked Department of the Interior to designate Kaena Point as Hawaii’s first National Heritage Area.

Correction: Reps. Case and Gabbard have proposed a study to designate a forested area in Hawaii as a national forest. They earlier proposed making Kaena Point a National Heritage Area. An earlier version of this story and its headline reported that they sought to designate Kaena Point as the state’s first national forest.

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