House Bill 3177 increases the maximum penalty for violations within the conservation district from $2,000 a day to $15,000 a day, and authorizes the board of land and natural resources to assess fines based on damages to natural resources within the conservation district and other factors deemed appropriate by the board while protecting native Hawaiian gathering rights.
House Bill 3178 increases the fines for violations on public lands, allows DLNR to recoup administrative costs and expenses in enforcing public lands laws, and allows DLNR to fine the perpetrator for the value of the natural resource damaged. The bill also doubles the fine for encroachment on public lands
“Over the years we have seen numerous wrongdoings within the conservation district and our public lands, including illegal harvesting of resources, illegal grading, or outright illegal construction, activities that destroy our coral reefs, our beaches, our forests, our entire ecosystem,” said Representative Cynthia Thielen. “Hopefully, these increased fines pose a greater disincentive for these violations and protects these precious resources.”
“I applaud DLNR for taking a big step towards better enforcement of violations of Hawaii’s conservation district and public lands laws”, said Curtis Muraoka, Co-Director of West Hawaii Explorations Academy. “Prevention and enforcement go hand in hand to protect our environment. Better enforcement will only help bolster our award winning prevention programs like ‘Reef Teach’ and ‘Aloha Kai’.”
The Administration bills met with strong support from House and Senate Republicans and will ensure that the Department of Land and Natural Resources has the tools to stop behavior that ruins Hawaii’s conservation lands and public lands. Organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Sierra Club, have also supported the legislation as it made its way through the legislative process.