Hawaii News

New federal funding to protect 2 million acres of land throughout Hawai‘i

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Two million acres throughout the State of Hawai‘i received a Sentinel Landscape designation, making the lands eligible for millions in federal funding to support conservation efforts.

Announced by the Trust for Public Land, or TPL, a national nonprofit that works to protect public land, the designation will ensure that under existing federal conservation and the Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration programs, funding for land conservation will include farming and ranch land, watershed protection, habitat restoration management, support military readiness and climate resiliency in Hawaiʻi.

The Sentinel Landscape designation was made possible by over a year of collaboration and facilitation by Trust for Public Land’s Sentinel Landscape Program Manager and Coordinator Carlos Castillo, whose position is supported by the Readiness Environmental Protection Integration (REPI) program, and two Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs), the Alakaʿina Foundation and the Hawaiʿi Pacific Foundation.

“Collaboration between local and federal agencies is critical to addressing Hawaiʻi’s most urgently needed conservation initiatives,” said Castillo. “With this designation, we look forward to supporting Hawaiʻi’s farmers and ranchers, advancing sustainable land management practices, stimulating our local economy and increasing public access to the outdoors.”


As a result of the designation, numerous projects aimed at enhancing conservation and resilience will be initiated throughout the state. These initiatives may include efforts to restore and protect critical habitats, enhance water quality and management, reduce vulnerability to natural disasters and promote sustainable land use practices.

Examples of the types of projects that can be funded under the Sentinel Landscape include the permanent protection and purchase of agricultural and forested lands in Maunawili by Trust for Public Land in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi and Native Hawaiian nonprofits Hoʻokuaʻāina and Kaulukalana, as well as the permanent protection and purchase of privately owned critical watershed lands known as Kāneʻohe Pali in the Koʻolau Mountain Range by Trust for Public Land in partnership with the State.

“The Sentinel Landscapes designation reflects the way we manage lands in Hawaiʻi – through partnerships,” said Dawn Chang, chairperson for the Department of Land and Natural Resources. “We are delighted to receive this designation, which recognizes Hawaiʻi’s extraordinary natural and cultural resource values. Because Hawaiʻi’s land area is small, we need to be strategic when our plans, and join forces with our neighbors and partners to comprehensively manage our lands. The Sentinel Landscapes designation supports our joint efforts.”


The steering committee for the initiative is comprised of local and federal agencies, including Trust for Public Land, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council, Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance, Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Navy Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaiʻi, Pacific Missile Range Facility, Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi, and National Association of Conservation Districts.

Since 2006, REPI and its partners have contributed nearly $162.4 million to REPI projects supporting four installations in Hawai‘i. TPL purchased or facilitated the protection of over 16,300 acres of land on Oʻahu in partnership with state, local, and NGO partners, conserving 10 special places using REPI funding, in addition to other sources of public and private funding. In 2022 alone, over 4.4 million acres of land were enrolled in financial and technical assistance programs, preserving wildlife habitat, bolstering agricultural and forestry production, and reducing land-use conflicts around military bases.

Since 2004, TPL has completed 94 projects nationwide with communities near 27 installations across 15 states. The impact of this work includes the protection of 170,000 acres thanks to more than $149 million of DoD funds and $206 million in other public and private investments.


For more information, visit tpl.org.


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