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POSTED: Friday, April 02, 2010

State to receive $255,000 for Medicare beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is giving money to Hawaii to help Medicare beneficiaries get more information about their health care choices.

The agency said yesterday that Hawaii's health insurance assistance program, called Sage PLUS, will receive $255,000.

Some of the money and similar grants to other states will be used to provide one-on-one counseling.

The rest will be used to conduct targeted community-based outreach to an increasing number and diversity of beneficiaries who might be unable to access other sources of information.

The money is part of $41 million being distributed to state health insurance assistance programs as part of a total of $45 million available in 2010 for direct grants and support contracts.

Trust donates 3,500 acres of Honouliuli land to state

The Trust for Public Land is handing over to state forest managers more than 3,500 acres that will help protect Oahu's watershed and wildlife habitat.

The nonprofit land conservation group bought the Honouliuli Preserve property from the James Campbell Co., formerly the Estate of James Campbell.

The preserve is a lowland diverse forest on the eastern slope of the Waianae mountain range. It is home to 35 threatened and endangered species, including 16 found nowhere else in the world.

The land is also part of the watershed feeding the Pearl Harbor aquifer, the largest drinking water resource on Oahu.

State Board of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Laura Thielen says protecting the preserve will protect the aquifer's water quality.

U.K. creates 55-island marine reserve

Britain said yesterday it will create the world's largest marine reserve by banning fishing around the U.K.-owned archipelago in the Indian Ocean—a cluster of 55 islands across about a quarter-million square miles of ocean.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said commercial fishing will be halted around the Chagos Islands to allow scientific research and the preservation of coral reefs and an estimated 60 endangered species.

His ministry insisted the move would not affect operations on the island of Diego Garcia, which Britain leases to the U.S. military for use as a base. The Chagos Islands lie halfway between Africa and Southeast Asia.

Conservation groups and scientists welcomed the move to protect waters around the islands, reputedly some of the world's cleanest ocean, and claimed it would become as key for research as the Great Barrier Reef or Galapagos Islands.

The Chagos Environment Network, a coalition of ocean scientists, said the area will replace the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii as the world's largest marine reserve.