LOS ANGELES – Gov. David Y. Ige appointed Robert K. Masuda as First Deputy Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources effective Friday.

Masuda will help manage, develop, oversee and implement initiatives, programs, and policies for DLNR’s11 divisions, including DLNR’s implementation of Gov. Ige’s Sustainable Hawaii Initiative. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation during the next legislative session.

Masuda previously served as DLNR First Deputy Director from May 2005-May 2007. He led DLNR’s efforts during two critical natural disasters and was the department’s representative for numerous interagency working groups. Masuda has more than 55 years of experience as an executive leader including top roles with the YMCA and the City and County of Honolulu.

“Bob is the right leader for the right time,” Gov. Ige said, citing Masuda's experience as second in command of “one of the key agencies developing sustainability and environmental leadership initiatives."

The department played a key role in lawsuits that slowed the development of Hawaii's $8.2 billion 20-mile elevated rail project -- and led to cost overruns for a project that was first anticipated to cost $5.2 billion to its current level.

The Oahu Island Burial Council, part of the State Historic Preservation Division, within the Department of Land and Natural Resources, refused to sign a programmatic agreement on Oct. 21, 2009, over concerns about likely burial sites located along the line's proposed route over Halekauwila Street in Kakaako.

Masada appointed to agency that caused headaches for Honolulu's rail project.
Masada appointed to agency that caused headaches for Honolulu's rail project.

The Burial Council contended that the city's decision to conduct an archaeological survey of the rail line's route in phases, meaning construction on a majority of the line would be completed by the time the survey in the Kakaako area was performed, which in turn increased the likelihood that any remains discovered would be moved instead of being allowed to remain.

In response to the Burial Council's concerns, the city agreed to begin conducting an archaeological survey of the area in 2010, two years earlier than originally planned. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources later signed the city's programmatic agreement on Jan. 15, 2011, over the continuing concerns of the Burial Council.

Since 2007 Masuda has served as Senior Advisory for Special Programs Development at the USDA’s U.S. Forest Service’ Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry. In this role he advised, consulted and assisted management and scientists with a variety of programs and projects related to inter-agency cooperation on multiple government levels.

“I’m honored to be returning to DLNR and happy to help continue its mission of protecting and perpetuating the natural and cultural resources of Hawai‘i,” Masuda said.

Masuda holds a B.S. in Applied Behavioral Science & Group Work Education from George Williams College, and an Executive M.B.A. from the University of Hawai‘i.

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