Over a dozen lawmakers have signed onto a bill to give $6 million to the state agency in charge of restoring Kahoolawe. Two House committees plan to take up the proposal on Friday.

The island off the coast of Maui was used as a bombing range by the U.S. military for decades. Coupled with severe erosion from decades of unbridled ranching, the bombing left much of the island barren. A state agency has been working for about two decades to rehabilitate the island and restore the native vegetation.

Despite its environmental challenges, Kahoolawe has been set aside as the first land to be returned to the state’s indigenous people if and when a Hawaiian nation is formed.

Kapu shoreline sign Kahoolawe. 9.27.14

A shoreline sign on Kahoolawe warns of unexploded ordnance in September 2014.

PF Bentley/Civil Beat

But lack of funding has limited the Kahoolawe Reserve Commission’s ability to restore the island’s ecosystem. Federal funding to support the agency is expected to run out this year. Meanwhile, unexploded ordnance that the Navy left uncleared still ensures that the island is largely inhabitable.

Reps. Yamane, Aquino, Cullen, Ito, Jordan, McKelvey, Morikawa, Nishimoto, Oshiro, Say, Yamashita, Chris Lee and House Speaker Joseph Souki all signed onto a measure that would give $6 million to the agency, or about twice as much as Kahoolawe Reserve Commission Michael Nahoopii has previously requested.

To learn more about Kahoolawe, check out Civil Beat’s series published last fall:

Promised Land: Will Kahoolawe Ever Be Saved?

Promised Land: Where Beauty Is Alongside the Ugliness

Promised Land: The Navy and the Damage Done

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