WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of the Interior released a rule to clarify the process for federal review of land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands and amendments to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) proposed by the State of Hawaii. The rule will enhance the Departments’ ability to work with the State of Hawaii and beneficiaries to maintain the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, which are vital to the welfare and strength of the community.
“The Department of the Interior takes our responsibilities to beneficiaries seriously” said Kristen Sarri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The Hawaiian Home Lands Trust is vital to the welfare and strength of the native Hawaiian community, and especially to the beneficiaries who live on the lands or are on the waiting list for a homestead lease. Our goal is to help ensure the management of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust occurs in a fair, transparent, and sustainable manner. We believe this rule helps attain that goal.”
The Department received comments from beneficiaries of the HHCA, the Native Hawaiian Community, the State of Hawaii, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and others on the proposed rule. The final rule issued this week set a clear path for the beneficiaries, the State of Hawaii and the Department on how to work together in protecting the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. By utilizing the processes required by this rule, there will be greater confidence that reviews will be fair, timely, in compliance with all applicable Federal laws and completed with the primary goal of protecting the interests of the Trust and its beneficiaries.
The rule clarifies for the State and the beneficiaries the Department of the Interior’s land exchange review process when Hawaiian home lands are involved, the documents the Department will use for the review, and the standards to be used in that review. The rule ensures appraisals of properties involved in a Hawaiian Home Lands Trust land exchange meet Federal standards and that all parties can be confident in the results of the appraisals; requires certain Federal laws, when applicable, are appropriately applied in land exchanges, including NEPA, National Historic Preservation Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA); and states that all land exchanges involving Hawaiian home lands are reviewed with the primary goal of protecting the interests of the Trust and its beneficiaries.
The rule also clarifies for the State and the beneficiaries the steps the Department will take to review proposed amendments to the HHCA and the standards to be used in that review.
The final rule is available for review at https://www.doi.gov/hawaiian/hawaiian-home-lands-rulemaking.