Restoration work funding running out on Kaho'olawe
Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission/Audit of Financial Plan Restoration efforts on Kaho'olawe are far from done and the federal funding that pays for the work is drying up.
Restoration efforts on Kaho'olawe are far from done and the federal funding that pays for the work is drying up. Work on Hawai'i's barren island could come to a halt if funding fails to surface.
"We're restoring the damage not just by the military's time on the island but 200 years of goats and cattle and other factors that have contributed to damaging the ecosystem of the island," said Mike Naho'opi'i, Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission
The state auditor just finished a review of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission's financial plan. She said that plan is no better today than it was when she first looked at it three years ago.
"The funds are heading downwards. It's pretty much flat lined and they don't have enough funds to move forward," said Acting State Auditor Jan Yamane.
After the audit in 2013 the commission was urged to find outside funding to support restoration work. But not enough funding has been found.
In 1994, the federal government contributed $44 million to go toward restoration but that money is almost gone.
"What the federal government did was not enough to help clear off that island so it's an ongoing effort. It's certainly a big one but it's a very expensive one," said Yamane.
The reserve commission has scaled back on staff and implemented pay cuts. But utilities still eat up a big chunk of the commission's budget.
"We are pretty much the Board of Water Supply. We're the Hawaiian Electric company. We make the water for the island, we transport all the people to the island, we ship all the fuel to make electricity," Naho'opi'i said.
A bill working it's way through the legislature would provide funding for Kaho'olawe, but no dollar amount is currently attached to that bill.
"I'm confident that both the House and Senate will come up with an appropriation of $600,000. I think it's a fair amount. Of course, with the House, it likes to take it's position, but to me as long as the end result is fair," said Rep. Lynn DeCoite/(D) Hana-Moloka'i-Kaho'olawe
One source of possible revenue ...The commission is looking into charging visitors a fee to visit the island for educational purposes.