Bill would allow counties to manage invasive species

HONOLULU — A bill that would give counties more authority for invasive species management passed through the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection Tuesday.

But the state’s Department of Agriculture thinks the bill, which gives the county the authority to eradicate invasive species anywhere within its jurisdiction, is premature.

The entity is currently creating the Hawaiian Invasive Species Authority, based on its 2017-27 Hawaii Interagency Biosecurity Plan, to address the unwelcome pests.

“The county currently doesn’t have the ability to control invasive species,” said Scott Enright, DOA chairman. “To give them the authority now seems premature. I would prefer that we waited for the Invasive Species Authority because they’d be part of the overarching coordinating agency, statewide.”

Others who have a hand in invasive species management see it as an opportunity to gather more forces for the mission.

“As long as the state and counties are working together in a coordinated manner, it allows counties more options for invasive species work,” said Bill Lucy, head of Kauai Invasive Species Committee.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., said invasive species mitigation is high on the list for Kauai County, and he’s encouraged the Legislature is addressing the issue.

“The bill that I support is HB655, which specifically addresses the negative impacts of the rose-ringed parakeet on Kauai, and is currently the biggest threat facing our agricultural industry and fragile ecosystem,” Carvalho said.

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