Emergency Proclamation to Help with Drought Funding
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
In the second year of a severe drought that has dealt a blow to local farmers and ranchers, many on Molokai can attest to the damage that hungry deer have wrecked on their gardens, homesteads, pastures and crops. The governor just signed a second emergency proclamation that will help with funding to cover damages, said Sen. Lynn DeCoite of Molokai, who pushed for a renewal of a drought proclamation issued in January of this year, which expired after 60 days.
“This proclamation helps open pathways for a swift response by all levels of government — County, State and Federal — along with private land owners to address the dire deer situation that has continued to be a public health and safety concern across Maui County,” wrote Sen. Lynn DeCoite.
In an October letter to Gov. David Ige, DeCoite asked the governor to explore the possibility of issuing a second emergency proclamation.
A Maui Axis Deer Task Force was formed earlier this year by the County of Maui and includes stakeholders from county, state and federal governments, as well as members from farming and ranching communities. The task force’s purpose is to manage and control the axis deer problem, while working to find resources and additional funding sources, according to DeCoite’s office.
“In talking with members of the task force, we believe that a similar proclamation will help to free up resources that can be used to help control the axis deer population,” DeCoite wrote in her October letter.
Last week, Clare Connors, who was Hawaii’s Acting Governor while Ige was in Scotland for the recent Climate Change Conference, signed the second proclamation for drought in Maui County.
“Ranches and farms in Maui County have suffered significant economic loss because of the persistent drought conditions,” stated a press release announcing the proclamation. “Large numbers of axis dear have migrated into agricultural and developed areas, seeking food and water – contributing to the loss of crops and the devastation of area farms. The deer are also foraging in urban areas and along roadways, causing several traffic accidents.”
Rainfall, stream flow and ground water levels on Molokai and throughout much of Maui County continue to be significantly below normal. Drought conditions have persisted since March 2019.
The current emergency proclamation declares the emergency relief period begins immediately and continues through Jan. 7, 2022, unless terminated or superseded by a separate proclamation.