Access to the island of Kaho’olawe could potentially end if the commission that oversees the island doesn’t raise $100,000 by June 15. To raise the money, the Kaho’olawe Island Reserve Commission (KIRC) has created an online GoFundMe campaign.
“If we do not reach the $100K mark, the Reserve will be closed down–all resultant of this year’s legislative results,” KIRC spokesperson Kelly McHugh said in a May 19 email.
The news caught me by surprise. Yes, SB 897–which would have allowed the KIRC to conduct “limited revenue-generating activities” on Kaho’olawe–died in committee this legislative session (it was a controversial bill, and the House last acted on the bill on Mar. 12, the same day we ran this story on the bill). But The Maui News reported on May 4 that the Legislature did appropriate $2 million for the KIRC.
Well, sort of, McHugh told me this morning by phone. She explained that the $2 million is actually two $1 million appropriations, for Fiscal Years 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.
“We’ve never pointedly asked the community for donations,” McHugh told me by phone this morning. “We always thought it was the responsibility of the state [to provide the KIRC with money]. But now we have to. We have to show we have the backing of the community. With the $1 million figure, as it stands now, we can’t afford to keep the island open.”
McHugh added that the $100,000 figure came from her boss, KIRC executive director Michael Naho’opi’i. She said legislators had asked the KIRC to create budgets at a variety of different funding levels, including $100,000. She said that the KIRC decided that if they could raise $100,000, then that would be sufficient funds to show legislators that the community values Kahoolawe restoration as well as sustain the KIRC until the Legislature’s mid-session in November.
The campaign began on May 15. At press time, the GoFundMe campaign has raised $9,819 from 99 individuals. The campaign closes on June 15, 2015.
“Kaho’olawe is for all of us: students, teachers, researchers, botanists, biologists, mechanics, carpenters, cultural practitioners, families and more–from all walks of life,” states the GoFundMe campaign website. “Together, we have embarked on the largest restoration effort on the planet. Only by demonstrating that our community values the historical, cultural, ecological and community building resources shared through the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve can we continue this work.”
For more information or to donate money, visit GoFundme.com/AlohaKahoolawe2015.
Photo of Kahoolawe restoration work: Hawkins Biggins/Wikimedia Commons