~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN MAZIE HIRONO REQUESTS 3 MILLION FOR PUNALU`UApril 18, 2007
-- KA`U COASTAL PRESERVATION ACT INTRODUCED
-- CONGRESSWOMAN MEETS WITH UH BIOLOGIST
During an April 4th visit to Punalu`u Black Sand Beach on the island of Hawai`i in the district of Ka`u, U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono discussed her request for $3 million to assist the County of Hawaii to purchase 140 acres surrounding Punalu'u Black Sand Beach. The funding request to the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee was in response to a request from Hawai`i County Councilmember Bob Jacobson. The proposed source of funding is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. Matching funds from the county or private sources would have to be generated. "We were delighted to hear this exciting news and host Congresswoman Mazie Hirono on her visit to Punalu`u and show her the beauty and "mana" of these sacred lands," says Ka`u Preservation, President Pele Hanoa.
"We appreciate the congresswoman's leadership in Washington D.C. to help us protect our beloved Punalu`u," says Hanoa, whose family has been living at Punalu`u since the 1850's. "I do support efforts to protect the unique resources of Punalu'u and Ka'u," said Congresswoman Hirono. "Protecting endangered species, the environment, and access to these areas by local residents are among my primary concerns." Pictured above is Earl Louis, Vice President of Ka`u Preservation showing Congresswoman Mazie Hirono the many sacred sites at Punalu`u.
KA`U COASTAL PRESERVATION ACT INTRODUCED
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Also during her visit, Congresswomen Hirono announced that the Ka'u Coastal Preservation Act was introduced on Thursday, March 29, 2007. The new bill number is H.R. 1798. It is a reintroduction of H.R. 6202 from the 109th Congress (2005-2006). The bill directs the National Park Service to conduct a full feasibility study of the 27-mile, 20,365-acre coastal area from Kapo'o Point to Kahuku Point along the Ka`u Coast as recommended in the reconnaissance survey. It does not create a national park, but provides invaluable research to determine the best methods in protecting Ka`u's coast. Congressman Abercrombie cosponsored the bill, which has been referred to the House Natural Resources Subcommittee.
The study area includes Punalu`u which is an important habitat for the endangered honu `ea (Hawaiian hawksbill turtle), Hawaiian monk seal, the io, (Hawaiian hawk) and honu (Hawaiian green turtle). Pictured above is Ka`u Preservation, President Pele Hanoa and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono with Keakealani Iona, who has attended the annual summer cultural and environmental education program "Kukulu Kumuhana o Ka'u" at Punalu`u. Keakealani expressed to the Congresswoman her wish to malama Punalu`u so the program can continue.
CONGRESSWOMAN MEETS WITH UH BIOLOGIST
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~During her visit to Punalu`u, the congresswoman also met with Jason P. Turner, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Marine Science, University of Hawaii at Hilo and Advisor for Ka`u Preservation. Turner (in above picture) expressed his concerns for the protection of Punalu`u, stating, "The University of Hawaii at Hilo has embraced Punalu`u as a "Living Classroom" and faculty have taught our undergraduate and graduate students here for almost three decades."
Congresswoman Mazie Hirono also took a short walking tour of Punalu`u with Earl Louis, VP of Ka`u Preservation. Louis pointed out the sacred sites at Punalu`u that include some of the oldest and largest heiau complexes in the state. "Mahalo to Mazie for coming all the way from Washington D.C. to see this special place. We share her vision for permanent protection of these important lands that we love. The people of Ka`u are lucky to have such a strong and courageous voice in Washington!" says Louis.
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