U.S. Navy, State of Hawai’i sign cooperative agreement for West Kaua’i watershed restoration, more
The Department of the Navy has signed a $4.14 million Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit Cooperative Agreement award with the State of Hawai‘i to fund conservation programs around the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Barking Sands on Kaua’i.
The agreement was signed Sept. 5 between the Navy and the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife, as part of a Navy-funded partnership under the Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program.
One unique aspect of the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program is that the Department of Defense and military installations partner with the state and local community for projects to preserve habitats and protect the military’s mission readiness.
Under this new cooperative agreement, the Division of Forestry and Wildlife is to use the award toward various conservation and land management projects over five years, in the area adjacent to and in the upland forests above PMRF, benefiting both the installation and the community of Kaua’i.
“We are thrilled to be working with PMRF on endangered species protection and environmental restoration for West Kauai,” said Sheri S. Mann, Kaua’i Branch Manager for the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
One of the improvements entails ecosystem-level forest enhancements that will help support and restore the local watershed that recharges the aquifer relied upon by residents of the island. The award also supports wildfire control efforts and endangered species recovery programs, to include efforts to help protect the Hawaiian goose, the nene.
Mann described these cooperative projects as a “win-win” for the environment and PMRF. She notes the work reduces threats to PMRF from wildfire, erosion and flood, while improving wildlife habitat for endangered plants and animals in upland areas. She explains the project establishes strategies and actions that may be used in lowland areas to reduce vehicular strikes to the nene.
“This kind of collaborative partnership is what all agencies strive to implement, so efforts and resources can be leveraged to make the greatest differences now and into the future,” said Mann.
The Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program has proven to be a valuable asset in supporting ecological restoration efforts and fostering positive outcomes for both the environment and the community, according to Emily Hauck, Navy Region Hawai‘i Community Planning and Liaison Officer.
“Through collaborative partnerships with DLNR and other local non-profits, this program has not only enhanced biodiversity and protected species, but also safeguards restoration of natural and cultural areas of significance for the island of Kaua’i,” said Hauck.
The projects will benefit PMRF by managing and improving the watershed and mitigating encroachment in the land around and upland from the remote base, while helping to restore and protect native forests, which is critical to flood mitigation and water supply.
“We at PMRF understand how important our mission is and we take incredible pride in being caretakers of the natural resources we are entrusted with at the installation,” said PMRF Commanding Officer Navy Capt. Brett Stevenson. “We are grateful for the benefits from this partnership and cooperative agreement award, which supports our military readiness while restoring and safeguarding the precious natural environment on the Mana Plain and across our island home.”
Located in southwestern Kaua‘i, PMRF is the world’s largest instrumented multi-domain range capable of supporting surface, subsurface, air, and space operations simultaneously.