Updated: December 2, 2022
Hawai’i’s Congressional Delegation — Senators Mazie K. Hirono and Brian Schatz and Representatives Ed Case and Kai Kahele — introduced legislation that directs the US Forest Service to assess the potential for Hawai’i lands to be declared a national forest, in partnership with local stakeholders from the state and community.
Across the United States, more than 150 national forests receive federal funding to sustain healthy forests, conserve watersheds and wildlife habitats, reduce fire hazards, and provide community recreational access. The national forest designation also allows for further research opportunities, other federal support and natural resource management.
“Hawaiʻi has unique biodiversity that is currently not represented within the National Forest System,” Sen. Hirono said. “At a time when our environment, species and watersheds are under constant threat, efforts like this bill can help identify forests in Hawaiʻi that are most suitable to preserve as a national forest. As a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I urge Congress to take action so that the Forest Service can consider managing and conserving forest ecosystem resources in Hawaiʻi,”
Sen. Schatz said: “Hawaiʻi’s rainforests are home to some of the most diverse wildlife in the country, but hundreds of these species are endangered and in need of protection. Our bill is a critical first step to conserving these vibrant ecosystems and establishing our state’s first national forest.”
Rep. Kahele said: “The potential establishment of Hawaiʻi’s first national forest reserve is an important step toward the conservation and expansion of our unique and vibrant ecosystems. … A national forest reserve here at home will help to ensure that for generations to come.”
Sen. Hirono, Sen. Schatz and Rep. Case introduced this legislation last Congress. Sen. Hirono is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Rep. Case is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. This bill will be referred to these committees for consideration. If enacted, the bill would require the Forest Service to submit a report within three years to Congress that includes results and any recommendations or conclusions.