Land grant to aid endangered species
Thousands of acres of endangered species habitats in Hawaii could be preserved with $2.6 million in grants for Hawaii announced by the federal government last week.
The grants awarded through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Funds will help purchase lands in Moanalua Valley on Oahu, inside the Big Island's Manuka Natural Area Reserve and adjoining the Waiakea Forest Reserve also on the Big Island, according to federal and local wildlife officials.
The largest portion of the money, $1.6 million, will be used to purchase more than 3,700 acres of Moanalua Valley conservation lands currently owned by the Damon Estate.
The lush, green valley on the leeward side of the Koolau Mountain range is home to several endangered and rare forest birds and plants, as well as the location of the last sightings of the Oahu creeper and the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat. It is also the haunt of two endangered species of tree snails.
The Legislature allocated $3 million for the valley in its latest budget, Hawaii's congressional delegation has been pressing for its preservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ranked it among its priority projects -- but the lead on preserving the valley was taken by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said Josh Stanbro, project manager for The Trust for Public Land.
The federal funds will go to the department, which will purchase the lands on Oahu and the Big Island.