Grijalva, Hawai'i Members Ask Interior Department to Support Environmental and Cultural Restoration in Maui Wildfire Recovery Efforts

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawai'i), and Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawai'i) sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland requesting DOI’s support for environmental restoration and cultural preservation in recovery efforts in Maui and Hawai'i Island. DOI played a critical role in fire evacuation and search and recovery efforts on the island.

Read the full letter.

Last month’s wildfires in Maui, which tragically claimed the lives of more than 100 people, have devastated the island. In addition to damaging thousands of structures and displacing more than 5,600 residents, the fires burned thousands of acres of agricultural and conservation land, destroyed historic and cultural landmarks, and exacerbated growing tensions over water rights.

In their letter, the lawmakers ask DOI to play a major role in the Biden administration’s efforts to help rebuild the area by providing technical expertise in environmental stewardship; supporting repatriation and transfer of any human remains and other items of cultural significance for Native Hawaiians; and ensuring responding agencies’ compliance with the Native American Graves, Patrimony, and Repatriation Act.

The lawmakers also ask DOI to finalize its Native Hawaiian consultation procedures in order to guide federal response efforts on the island:

“In October 2022, the Department’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations announced its plans to develop the agency’s first-ever consultation policy with the Native Hawaiian Community. We encourage the Department to continue working to develop and finalize these formal consultation procedures with the Native Hawaiian Community so that they can be utilized by Federal agencies charged with remediation efforts on Maui and Hawai'i Island to ensure the full participation of the Native Hawaiian Community in long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.”

Press Contact

Lindsay Gressard