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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 25, 2006

Isles' natural 'beauty' gets $1 million boost

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Pacific Whale Foundation's green sea turtle awareness and protection program will get money from the state tourism authority.

Mauisealife.com

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Planting native vegetation and educating the public about conserving Hawai'i's near-shore marine life are among the initiatives receiving money this year from the Hawaii Tourism Authority's Natural Resources Program.

The authority yesterday announced 22 community-based environmental projects receiving a combined $1 million as part of its natural resources initiative. A legislative mandate requires the HTA to provide up to $1 million annually to support efforts to manage, improve and protect Hawai'i's natural environment and areas frequented by visitors.

The tourism authority allocated $2 million this year double last year's funding for natural resources programs, including the $1 million for the 22 community-based projects and another $1 million for "priority projects" identified by an HTA assessment of more than 100 sites popular with visitors. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is also getting $1 million from transient accommodations tax revenue.

"The beauty and uniqueness of Hawai'i's natural resources makes our Islands special for both residents and visitors," said tourism authority president and chief executive Rex Johnson. "Funding to protect, maintain and improve public natural resources is essential, and the HTA is committed to helping preserve Hawai'i's environment."

The community-based environmental projects that HTA selected through a public request for proposals include:

  • Forward Foundation's production and distribution of a public service announcement, "Hawaii Reef Etiquette PSA," in English and Japanese to promote conservation of Hawai'i's near-shore ecosystems.

  • Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission's program to clear and replant native vegetation on part of the South Maui Coastal Heritage Corridor Trail; and create and install interpretive signs about Kaho'olawe and ancient Hawaiian navigation techniques.

  • Pacific Whale Foundation's green sea turtle awareness and protection program.

  • County of Hawai'i's Waipi'o park ranger pilot program.

    Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com.