We are so pleased that Governor Ige has chosen Suzanne Case to head up the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Senate Confirmation Committee voted unanimously to support her nomination. Now it is up to the Senate to vote on her nomination. The Outdoor Circle strongly endorses Ms. Case as she has the experience, expertise, and holistic approach necessary to lead this crucial department.
This nomination is notable because it is so significantly different from the Governor’s previous choice for the job; a choice that he withdrew after considerable public opposition based on the nominee’s lack of familiarity and experience with the Department, and appreciation for the importance of protecting our natural resources. Ms. Case’s nomination is a testament to what can be accomplished when the public actively engages with lawmakers to set the direction of public policy. Now we have a nominated that is clearly qualified for the position with the proper experience in managing natural resources and large organizations.
Ms. Case is currently the Director of The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii. In that position, Ms. Case manages 53,000 acres of preservation land with a budget of $11 million and a staff of 76. people. During her tenure, she oversaw the largest conservation land transaction in state history for 117,00 acres at Kahuku Ranch on Hawaii Island. She has extensive experience in natural resources management and advocacy, as well as partnering with public and private landowners towards shared resource management goals.
In 2014, Ms. Case received the prestigious Ho‘okele Award for her leadership, strategic thinking, and ability to bring different groups of people together towards common goals.
Ms. Case is clearly qualified to serve as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. She will be an excellent addition to the Governor’s cabinet.
Also interesting to read is Sen. Laura Thielen’s post on the importance of the DLNR Appointment.
The Outdoor Circle joined with many environmental groups, including Hawaii’s Thousand Friends, the Sierra Club, and Conservation Council for Hawaii, to oppose the nomination of William Balfour to the Water Commission. Senators took testimony and asked pressing questions of the nominee at the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, and even continued the hearing on Friday. All senators will be asked to vote on this confirmation in the next few days.
For now, here is a report back on day one of the hearing from Conservation Council’s own, Marjorie Ziegler:
William Balfour’s response to questions by the Senate Water and Land Committee <on Wednesday> at his confirmation hearing was disappointing to put it mildly. It is very hard for me to believe the Governor nominated Mr. Balfour to serve yet another term on the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM). Mr. Balfour did not know about the hierarchy of water uses or constitutionally protected rights and uses under the State Water Code, nor was he concerned that he did not know about this most important tenet of the code.
Today was the culmination of a grueling public process -- grueling for the nominee, the Ige Administration, the Senate, and for us, the public. The Senate convened at 11:30 AM to vote on whether to confirm the nomination of Carleton Ching. By all accounts, the vote was too close to call at the knock of the gavel. Every seat in the Gallery of the Senate Chambers was filled. Those concerned about this nomination sat in silent vigil over the Senate, wearing red as a demonstration of strength. We settled in for a long afternoon of speeches and vote-taking. Yet, after an extended recess, before any votes could be cast, a typed letter was delivered from the Governor to the Senate President officially withdrawing the nomination from the Senate’s consideration.
This entire confirmation process demonstrated that when the people of Hawaii engage, our voices are heard. Our participation in this process resulted in a better future for our natural and cultural resources and our democratic process. Thank you to everyone who showed up -- your testimony, phone calls, and emails all made the difference in this turn of events.
We know that Governor Ige is doing what he thinks is best for Hawaii. There are times when friends disagree. The time has come now for us to move on from our disagreement to the business of caring for our natural resources. We hope that one result of this confirmation process is improved collaboration between advocates for the environment and the Ige Administration. We look forward to helping Governor Ige develop an inclusive process for identifying new candidates for DLNR Director.
Here is the link from The Star Advertiser 3/19/2015
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.
The Senate Committee on Water and Land is accepting testimony from the public for a confirmation hearing on March 11, 2015 at 10AM in room 229 at the State Capitol.
Click here to get involved!
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:
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
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.
You can submit your testimony to the Committee by clicking here or going directly to Hawaii State Legislature GM514 and sign-in to submit testimony online.
After hearing all the testimony, 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:
Pacific Business Journals
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.
"Ige Picks Castle & Cooke Executive to Head DLNR", Gordon Y.K. Pang, Star Advertiser, Jan 23, 2015
"Groups Oppose Ige's Land and Natural Resources Nominee", Audrey McAvoy, Star Adverstiser, Jan 26, 2015
"Why I am unable to support an honorable man," Gary Hooser, Feb. 1, 2015.
"Third look at Gov. Ige's DLNR Nomination," Ian Lind, iLind Blog, Feb 4, 2015
"Ige's Department of Land and Natural Resources Development," Karen Chun, The Hawaii Independent, Feb 4, 2015
"Is Carleton Ching the Man to Protect Hawaii's Public Lands?", Sophie Cocke, Honolulu Civil Beat, February 12, 2015
The Greenleaf is the online newsletter and blog of The Outdoor Circle. Here you will find updates on the projects and accomplishments of our many branches throughout the state, as well as programs with statewide impact.