Bill seeks funds for Hawaii Ant Lab

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Hawaii Ant Lab's Heather Forester demonstrates how mix Tango for application to trees and plants Wednesday during a workshop on little fire ants for University of Hawaii Master Gardener trainees at the Komohana Research & Extension Center in Hilo.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Hawaii Ant Lab's Heather Forester shows the proper thickness of mixed Tango for application to trees and plants Wednesday during a workshop on little fire ants for University of Hawaii Master Gardener trainees at the Komohana Research & Extension Center in Hilo.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Hawaii Ant Lab's Heather Forester demonstrates how mix Tango for application to trees and plants Wednesday during a workshop on little fire ants for University of Hawaii Master Gardener trainees at the Komohana Research & Extension Center in Hilo.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Hawaii Ant Lab’s Heather Forester demonstrates how to spray Tango on trees Wednesday during a workshop on little fire ants for University of Hawaii Master Gardener trainees at the Komohana Research & Extension Center in Hilo.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would appropriate $750,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 to help combat little fire ants.

Senate Bill 2124 seeks $650,000 for six full-time positions at the Hilo-based Hawaii Ant Lab to maintain ongoing statewide mitigation activities.

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The funds also would be used for vehicle and operating costs for public outreach and treatment, ant baits, field equipment, computers and printers, according to the bill. It seeks an additional $100,000 for one Hawaii Ant Lab position focused on West Hawaii-based mitigation efforts.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Gabbard, an Oahu Democrat, passed a second reading this week.

Hilo state Sen. Kai Kahele, along with Puna state Sen. Russell Ruderman, co-signed the bill. It also received testimony in support from Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara. A similar measure introduced last year did not pass.

“The Hawaii Ant Lab has been around about 10 years, and in those 10 years funding has always been fairly irregular,” lab research manager Casper Vanderwoude said Wednesday. “It has depended on competitive grants, so it’s an ongoing process that lurches from grant to grant. … So this would give us some kind of feeling of tenure. And the new funding would bolster our efforts in West Hawaii where, over the past few years, little fire ants have become more prevalent.”

State Rep. Nicole Lowen, who represents North Kona, also introduced House Bill 2046, which would appropriate $50,000 in fiscal year 2018-19 for West Hawaii-specific outreach and education.

Lowen said this week that little fire ants “are particularly destructive because they have the potential to greatly impact agriculture, tourism and property values.”

“This is becoming more widespread in West Hawaii, and any funds we can put toward it now would be very proactive,” she said.

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Lowen’s bill cleared a second reading and was referred to the House Finance Committee.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

  1. PUNATIC February 8, 2018 7:12 am Reply

    ….and the response from Ige and the Oahu legislators will be, “Sorry, but we don’t have the money (that is till ants invade Oahu), but hey, look at this flashy rail system we have (even if it won’t mitigate traffic congestion).”


  2. Steve Dearing February 8, 2018 10:32 am Reply

    Ten demo rat years the Ant Lab did nothing because of the demo rats pigging out at the trough. Now the ants rule and the taxpayer supplies the Vaseline as they bend over and get screwed by serial demo rat rapists again.


  3. Joy Memmer February 9, 2018 11:49 am Reply

    Yes. Please support we can’t wait another year.


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