Department of Land and Natural Resources Forced to Remove Information From Website Following Complaints from Save the Guava Campaign

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) was forced to remove information from its website yesterday in response to ethics violation complaints from Sydney Ross Singer of the Save the Guava Campaign, along with others.  The information removed pertained to the proposed release of an alien scale insect for strawberry guava biocontrol.

Guava after insect has attacked it

Guava after insect has attacked it

The complaint concerned the DLNR website, www.hawaii.gov/dlnr, which actively promoted information from the non-profit Conservation Council of Hawaii supporting and encouraging the insect release. The DLNR website also asked the public to contact legislators to push for the insect release.

The problem is that the DLNR refused to allow Save the Guava, or any other responsible individuals or groups, from posting any information on the government agency’s website opposing this insect release and balancing the presentation of this controversial biocontrol proposal.  Save the Guava has two websites dedicated to this issue, www.SaveTheGuava.com and www.BioDamage.com. However, the DLNR did not want to give any opposition a voice on their taxpayer funded website.

Sydney Ross Singer requested either inclusion on their website, or the removal of the other information. The DLNR responded, “DLNR reserves the right to post  information on our webpage that we find…support and assistance on department initiatives. The Department is under no obligation to post any or all information on a subject or views in opposition to the Department’s position….We choose not to post your link or information on this subject.”

However, they took off the images, links, and information of the pro-insect group, avoiding the issue rather than giving a forum for balanced presentations.  This decision was made the same day the DLNR received an UIPA request from Save the Guava for information into the funding of this insect release.

However, more ethics violations and conflict of interest problems remain for the DLNR.  The DLNR is slated to be the decision maker for the upcoming Draft Environmental Assessment, according to its “partner”, the US Forest Service, which is the proposing agency!

The DLNR and US Forest Service, along with 13 others, are partners and creators of the Hawaii Conservation Alliance and its related non-profit, the Hawaii Conservation Alliance Foundation. The DLNR is using taxpayer money, government employees, and DLNR office space to support the Hawaii Conservation Alliance Foundation. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Nature Conservancy, both of which are members of this Alliance, have also publicly supported this insect release, which is an agenda of this group. The main office for this government spawned Hawaii Conservation Alliance Foundation is in the DLNR itself, making this a taxpayer supported foundation!

This is clearly conflict of interest and fraud.  And it should certainly disqualify the DLNR in being the determination agency for this insect release.

The DLNR is saying the insect release is a DLNR initiative. The DLNR is committed to promoting this insect agenda. And they are waiting to put their stamp of approval on this planned infestation of our state before the EA is even released for public review and comment.

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