Hanalei preservation gets $700,000 boost

[ Hanalei River Valley | Photo by Kauai Beach Villa ]The Halalei Heritage River Program, a watershed protection program on Kauai, will receive $700,000 of federal grant money that will help it achieve its goal of improving water quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. Hanalei was one of 20 watersheds nationwide to receive a share of a $15 million EPA assistance package.

In a prepared statement, Governor Linda Lingle praised the EPA’s decision to fund the program.

“President Bush’s Watershed Initiative recognizes the importance of assisting local communities in managing natural resources and protecting our coasts and waterways,” Lingle said. “The Hanalei Heritage River Program is a strong example of the kind of community collaboration we need to preserve our environment.”

The funds will be used to support local efforts for ecological restoration, community development and historic and cultural preservation, according to an EPA release. This would include the replacement of area cesspools that are contaminating the river and groundwater; implementation of agricultural best management practices to reduce sediments flowing into the river; and monitoring to document the effect of these activities on the coral reefs and fish populations.

“[The] EPA is thrilled to be able to support a community-based effort in the Hanalei Bay watershed that will achieve direct environmental improvements,” said Catherine Kuhlman, acting director for the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest region. “The Hanalei Heritage River Program is demonstrating that through cooperation, communities can successfully address critical water quality problems.”

The Hanalei River was designated an American Heritage River in July of 1998, based on a University of Hawaii nomination. The program has since successfully implemented a number of projects, developed a five-year action plan and has established a framework for community cooperation and agency collaboration.

Hanalei Bay was one of 20 watersheds throughout the country selected to receive funding from the new EPA Watershed Initiative, which is providing a total of $15 million in assistance to state and local communities to protect and restore inland and coastal watersheds. The goal of the initiative is to advance the successes of watershed coalitions that are ready to carry out on-the-ground protection and restoration projects.

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