Gov. David Ige has appointed Hawai’i Nature Conservancy Executive Director Suzanne Case to head the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Senate had granted the governor two days past the Monday deadline to present a nominee. He needed only one.
The governor withdrew his previous nominee, Carleton Ching, three weeks ago amid mounting public opposition over his ties to developers and lack of experience for a job that requires leading a department comprised of 10 divisions and nearly 900 employees.
The Senate must confirm Case’s appointment. Ching’s appointment was rescinded moments before lawmakers were set to vote on March 18.
Instead of announcing the appointment of Case via a news release on a Friday afternoon as he did for Ching, Ige held a press conference this morning in the ceremonial room at the governor’s office with Case at his side — ready to explain why he believes she’s the right person for the job and answer questions from reporters. As late as Saturday, the governor remained tight-lipped about his pick for the job.
Case previously led the Nature Conservancy for 14 years as its state director.
“I really do need to step up here,” she said. “I step up to this service with the deep aloha for Hawaii’s lands and waters.”
The DLNR oversees aquatic resources, boating and recreation, conservation and coastal lands, forestry and wildlife, historic preservation and state lands, including public parks. In all, the department manages 23,000 acres of inland streams, some three million acres of near-shore ocean waters, 410,000 acres of coral reef and two million acres of conservation land.
The Board of Land and Natural Resources oversees the department. The DLNR director also chairs the board.