Draft Environmental Assessment Available for Hawai'i Wildlife Refuge Project on Kaua'i

 

 

Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210,

 

 

 

(Washington, D.C., September 18, 2013) The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge has announced the availability of the Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA) for the Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project (NERP) on Kaua‘i. The refuge proposes to create a seven-acre protected area for native plant and animal communities and to enhance existing seabird colonies by using the latest technology in predator-proof fencing, in collaboration with American Bird Conservancy, the Kaua‘i Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, Pacific Rim Conservation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and several other partners.

 

Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge prepared the DEA in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act for the NERP, evaluating the environmental effects of the restoration project and a no-action alternative. Under the proposed action, construction of a predator-proof fence would keep introduced mammalian predators (such as cats, dogs, mongooses, rats, and mice) out of the area so that native species such as the endangered Nēnē (Hawaiian Goose), the Mōlī (Laysan Albatross), and rare plants can flourish again in a protected environment. In addition, the absence of introduced predators would make this restored site an appropriate future translocation site for the threatened ‘A‘o (Newell's Shearwater) and for the reintroduction of rare native plants.

 

While this project would create the first predator-proof fence on Kaua‘i, this type of fencing has been used with great success in New Zealand and on the island of O‘ahu at Kaʻena Point, where predator exclusion resulted in record numbers of seabird chicks fledging in the year immediately following the project's completion and natural recolonization by a seabird species not previously breeding on O‘ahu in its third year. It is hoped that similar outcomes will be achieved on Kaua‘i. This project comes at a particularly important time for Kaua‘i's seabirds, which are now potentially being preyed on by mongooses, a new introduced predator in Kaua‘i's ecosystem.

 

“Soliciting public input on the plans for the proposed fence is an important step in the development of this conservation effort. With Newell’s Shearwaters threatened by non-native predators in their montane nesting areas, creation of a colony protected from predators will be a major step forward in recovering the species,” said George Wallace, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy.

 

The refuge was established in 1985 to preserve and enhance seabird nesting colonies and in 1988 was expanded to include Crater Hill (Nihoku) and Mōkōlea Point. To learn more about the refuge, please visit www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint.

 

The proposed fence would stretch for about .45 miles and would be approximately 6.5 feet tall. The total enclosed area would be nearly 7.8 acres. The fence would be painted green to blend in with the environment and is designed to keep predators as small as a two-day old mouse from entering. The fence would take two to three months to build.

 

The DEA concludes that the NERP will have primarily positive impacts on the biological resources of the refuge, and no significant impacts are anticipated. The full DEA is now available for public review and comment. It may be found at http://www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint/. Printed copies may be requested by contacting the refuge at (808) 828-1413 or by email at scott_poland@fws.gov.

 

The deadline for public comment is October 31, 2013. Please submit comments by mail to the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 1128, Kīlauea, HI 96754, Attention: Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project or by email to FW1planningcomments@fws.gov with “Nihoku Ecosystem Restoration Project DEA” in the subject line.

 

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American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats, while building capacity in the bird conservation movement.