Reasons to support SB 1166 to fund watershed protectiion- Mahalo Marjorie Ziegler of Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi

The Conservation Council for Hawai‘i strongly supports HB 935, which increases the conveyance tax on high-end real estate transactions and directs an additional ten percent of conveyance tax proceeds to the Natural Area Reserve Fund for watershed protection and invasive species control. Invasive species are one of the most significant threats to our watersheds, native species, habitats, cultural areas, recreation areas, and agricultural lands. 

·        The Rain Follows the Forest initiative is working to ensure fresh water is available for the people of Hawai‘i in perpetuity by protecting our watershed forests, a central goal of A New Day in Hawai‘i plan.

·        Healthy forests that are not overrun by invasive species efficiently capture and deliver fresh water into streams and aquifers for our use.

·        By pulling moisture from passing clouds, forests can actually increase water capture up to 50% more than through rainfall alone.  

·        When forests are lost or degraded, Hawai‘i loses its source of fresh water.

·        More than half of Hawaii’s forests have been lost.  Historically, the threat was overharvesting and development.  Today’s threat is invasive plants and animals.

·        The longer we wait to take significant action, the higher the cost will be to reverse the damage, thereby threatening water supplies for future generations.

·        Forests also help mitigate erosion and runoff into our precious streams and coastlines.

·        Healthy forests will become even more critical as we experience the likely effects of climate change, including more severe storms but overall less rainfall, and temperature changes that may benefit invasive pests.

·        The conveyance tax bill would support this watershed protection through essential forest management programs, invasive species control, land acquisition, and other conservation programs.    

·        The development and sale of real estate helps drive Hawaii’s economy, but it also puts pressure on our natural resources.  It makes sense to spend a portion of conveyance tax revenue on protecting those natural resources.

·        In recent years, enormous amounts have been invested in the development and sale of real estate, and continued investment in development and construction is helping to lift our economy out of recession.  Yet, we make a comparatively tiny investment in protecting the natural resources that also drive our economy and provide benefits that allow us to survive in the middle of the vast Pacific.

Link to status and bill:

http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2013/hearingnotices/HEARING_WTL-ENE_2-5-13_.HTM

The Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party has not formally taken a position on this Bill as of today. However action of this bill is time sensitive and has a direct impact on invasive species which is an important priority for the caucus.  Please look into this and submit your testimony today!!!

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