DLNR needs your help! The Outdoor Circle and more than 20 other advocacy groups oppose the nomination of Carleton Ching as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Hawai‘i’s natural resources are our most valuable asset, they deserve expert management.
We recognize that some senators may find it difficult to oppose this nomination because they were once close colleagues with former-Senator, now-Governor Ige. That is why it is so important for each of us to get involved and help our Senators make the best decision for Hawai‘i’s people. You have likely seen the news articles and opinion pieces criticizing the nomination of Mr. Ching to lead Hawai‘i’s natural resource agency. We are very concerned that Mr. Ching lacks the familiarity with natural resources and commitment to conservation that is necessary to successfully lead DLNR.
DLNR’s mission is to:
“Enhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii’s unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawaii nei…”.
The department’s jurisdiction encompasses nearly 1.3 million acres of State lands, beaches, and coastal waters. It is responsible for all conservation districts, state parks, all historic resources, forests, all wildlife and their sanctuaries, hunting and game management, fishing, boating and other ocean programs, and natural area reserves. This department conducts high-end scientific research, spearheads public education campaigns, and implements tough resource management decisions all with the goal of ensuring the public’s interest in our common resources are protected.
The Director of DLNR chairs the Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Commission on Water Resources Management, and is the chief historic preservation officer. The Director is responsible for ensuring DLNR follows all public hearing and disclosure requirements and satisfies all constitutional requirements under the public trust doctrine.
Chronic under-funding of this important department has led to long-term staff shortages. These shortages, along with systemic failures to follow basic legal requirements in past decisions, contributed to multiple, major lawsuits against the department costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Mr. Ching is the Wrong Choice
Mr. Ching has not dedicated his career to cultivating an expertise in natural resources management. Quite the opposite, he has spent his career developing Hawai‘i’s natural resources. On behalf of billionaire David Murdoch, Mr. Ching lobbied for wind farms on conservation land and 3,500 homes on 575 acres of highly productive farmland. In his free time, Mr. Ching leads the Land Use Research Foundation (LURF) -- he served as President in 2008 and Vice President in 2009 and 2010. This lobby group advocated to:
establish the Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) which sought to side-step environmental protections to facilitate profit-making from public lands,
reduce protections for state historic resources,
reduce requirements for Environmental Impact Statements,
weaken critical habitat protections for endangered species,
obstruct public access to beaches and coastlines, and
prevent establishment of the Environmental Court in Hawaii (one of TOC’s main legislative priorities last year).
This is not the record of someone inclined to protect Hawaii’s public trust resources and natural beauty from incapable commercialization. Click here to review Mr. Ching’s resume. Indeed, as DLNR Director, Mr. Ching would be expected to enforce the laws he had previously worked on his free time to weaken or abolish. This is setting up Mr. Ching and the department for major internal challenges.
For a department already besieged by immense challenges, it is not wise to appoint a director who is not naturally in sync with the mission and responsibilities of the department.
Our concern over this appointment is focused on an objective assessment of the agency’s needs and the nominee’s record and does not call into question Mr. Ching’s integrity. Having talked story with Mr. Ching, we found him to be an extremely nice person. However, we know that being a nice guy has little to do with spearheading an agency fundamental to the health and wealth of our islands. This is why we are asking Senators to not confirm Mr. Ching’s nomination.
Ready to Collaborate
We look to the Governor’s Administration to re-think this appointment and re-double its efforts to seek out and seat top talent to lead Hawaii’s agencies. During the campaign, this Administration committed to fulfilling its obligations through collaboration. We, at TOC, 100% support the collaborative, proactive approach to problem-solving. We look forward to sitting down with the Administration as soon as possible to help find a suitable nominee for the Director of DLNR.
More about the Confirmation Process
You can submit your testimony to the Committee by clicking here or going directly to Hawaii State Legislature GM514.
The Senate Committee on Water and Land will accept public testimony on the nomination of Mr. Ching on March 11, 2015 starting at 10AM in room 229 at the State Capitol. Click here to find out about parking and transportation options to the Capitol.
After hearing all the testimony presented, the Committee will vote whether to recommend Mr. Ching be confirmed as Director of DLNR. Then a vote of the entire Senate will be scheduled to consider the Committee’s recommendation and make a final determination. You are encouraged to directly contact your Senator to express your concern about appointing Mr. Ching to DLNR. (Find out who is your senator). Call your senator today!
Other things you can do right now
- Forward this information to your friends and family
- Send your testimony to all senators by clicking here
- Express your concern directly to Governor Ige by clicking here
- Join the discussion on social media: #saveDLNR
- Submit your testimony as a letter to editor to our local publications by emailing the following:
If you are interested in getting more involved, click here to contact TOC’s office staff and find out when we are meeting next to discuss this issue.
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