Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Sunday, July 21, 2024 84° Today's Paper


Top News

Legislature passes bill to combat invasive species

COURTESY USDA
                                A brown tree snake. The Hawaii State Legislature voted unanimously to pass a bill that appropriates nearly $20 million toward the battle against invasive species, sending it to the governor’s desk for consideration.
1/1
Swipe or click to see more

COURTESY USDA

A brown tree snake. The Hawaii State Legislature voted unanimously to pass a bill that appropriates nearly $20 million toward the battle against invasive species, sending it to the governor’s desk for consideration.

The Hawaii State Legislature voted unanimously to pass a bill that appropriates nearly $20 million toward the battle against invasive species, sending it to the governor’s desk for consideration.

House Bill 2619, relating to biosecurity, gives the Hawaii Department of Agriculture unprecedented support in its efforts to combat invasive species that threaten the state’s fragile environment and local agricultural industries.

It designates HDOA as the lead agency, requiring it to coordinate the state’s invasive pest control and biosecurity efforts.

“After many years of demanding our state do more to support agriculture and help the people of Hawaii regarding invasive species, we’re finally putting our money where our mouth is,” said state Sen. Mike Gabbard, Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee Chair, in a news release. “In my humble opinion, this bill is a masterpiece… indeed, it’s been a long time coming.”

The bill earmarks the following, among other items:

>> $3.2 million for 44 additional positions, including 22 plant quarantine inspectors, as well as entomologists and a noxious-­weed specialist.

>> $2.5 million for invasive little fire ants response.

>> $1.5 million for the coconut rhinoceros beetle response.

>> $1.1 million for the brown tree snake rapid response.

>> $800K for two-lined spittlebug control.

>>$200,000 for feral chicken control, to be appropriated to each county as a grant-in-aid.

At a joint Senate committee briefing last week, Senators grilled HDOA leaders on their efforts to contain little fire ants in the wake of an infestation found among donated plants at the Punahou Carnival in February.

The Senators also expressed their frustration and lack of confidence with HDOA’s leadership and their ability to take timely and aggressive action against “bad actors” when necessary.

The bill requires HDOA to post real-time updates on its website, including the date, location, actions performed, and names of staff and organizations involved.

HB2619 honors the work of former state Rep. Clift Tsuji, who fought tirelessly for biosecurity during his tenure as House Agriculture Committee Chair.

“This legislation will let our keiki play free without the fear of being bitten by little fire ants,” said state Rep. Kirstin Kahaloa in the release. “It will keep our picturesque Hawaiian scenes with coconut trees proudly displayed across Hawaii. This effort helps our state make biosecurity a priority.”

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines. Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.