There have been several bills introduced in the legislature this session which have to do with invasive species. Below are some of the bills that BIISC will be writing supportive testimony for this year, and we encourage you to read and consider each bill before sharing your own thoughts with our legislators.
The Hawaii State Legislative Site is very easy to use and once you have set up an account with your basic information, you can provide testimony in under a minute if you’re in a hurry! An optional comment box allows you to add additional thoughts and personal experience that may help shape the legislators’ understanding of an issue. Check out this helpful guide to learn more about the site or here for some tips on creating effective testimony.
Invasive Species Rapid Response Fund:
Update Wed 3/4/20: SB2713 has crossed over from the Senate to the House! This is an important step in the progress of a bill. The responsibility for keeping this bill alive now rests in the House committees and we will post if/when a House hearing is scheduled.
HB2265 was referred to the House Committee on Finance on Feb 14th and as of today has not received a hearing in that committee.
These bills support the creation of a special fund which can be made available when a new pest reaches our shores. Currently, those of us dealing with invasive species (including conservation and agricultural groups), are hampered by the lack of immediate funding to respond when a new pest is discovered. Although it seems easy to say, “Just eradicate it!” when we find something new and potentially harmful, in practice it just isn’t that simple.
Take the Queensland Longhorn Beetle. Because it has never been reported as a pest in agricultural or forests before anywhere else in the world (including its native Queensland) there is no information on how to control it- because no one has tried before! Additionally, there is almost no information available about its life cycle, eating habits, reproduction…all of which can be crucial pieces of information needed to learn how to control it. We need researchers with the right expertise and experience to get this information and use it to test potential solutions. Suggestions have been made to try everything from pesticides to detector dogs to biocontrol – but all of these programs take time and money to develop.
Waiting to set such efforts in motion until sufficient money and manpower is available creates more time and space for the pest to spread. Other places in the world with solid biosecurity plans in place have rapid response structures, with funding, available to respond to new pests, and we believe Hawaii should follow the model of these more successful programs and adopt a rapid response fund.
Positions to increase capacity for Invasive Species Control on Hawaii Island
HB1849 Would establish a new West Hawaii technician position for Hawaii Ant Lab, to respond to little fire ants in West Hawaii. 3/4/20: This bill was referred to the House Finance Committee on Feb 5 and as of today has not received a hearing.
SB2622 Adds 4 new positions to DLNR for invasive species technicians in the County of Hawaii. 3/4/20: This bill has crossed over from the Senate to the House! This is an important step in the progress of a bill. The responsibility for keeping this bill alive now rests in the House committees and we will post if/when a House hearing is scheduled.
SB3042, HB2532 Provides funding for research and response to the growing threat posed to ranchers, conservation programs, and homeowners by the Two-Lined Spittlebug (TLSB). The TLSB threatens the ranching industry and paniolo culture of the Big Island, and more than 150,000 acres have been affected in the last 4 years. Pastures are decimated after infestation, with 100% death of grasses and subsequent invasion by more aggressive brush species. 3/4/20: These bills have crossed over! This is an important step in the progress of a bill. We will post if/when hearings are scheduled to continue the bills in the session.
SB2623 , HB1861 Extends CBB subsidy program (scheduled to expire this year) to provide continued support for farmers fighting the coffee berry borer. 3/4/20: The bill has crossed over! This is an important step in the progress of a bill. We will post if/when hearings are scheduled to continue the bill in the session.
HB1862 Would prohibit bag limits on game mammals in managed hunting areas. 3/4/20: This bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee on Feb 11th and as of today has not received a hearing in that committee.
SB2463 Would remove all bag limits for pig hunting on Mauna Kea, and would instruct DLNR to install one-way gates in conservation areas to help with movement of pigs out of sensitive conservation land. 3/4/20 This bill was referred on Jan 23 and as of today has not received a hearing.
Exploring invasives as resources
HB2015 Would fund a pilot project on Mauna Kea through DHHL to harvest the destructive invasive plant gorse and develop it as marketable product (like biochar). Update 3/4/20: This bill has been referred as of 3/3/20 and we will update if/when it is schedule for a hearing.
HB2639 Would authorize and fund the UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO) to conduct an economic analysis of the potential costs and benefits of albizia removal for commercial use and restoration to native and non-invasive species in Manoa Valley (economic information that could potentially be translated to assess Big Island albizia populations). 3/4/20: This bill was referred on Jan 27 and has not been scheduled for a hearing in its new committee.