State funding launches improvements to Kanahâ Pond Wildlife Sanctuary

Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. PC: Hawai’i DLNR.

Seed funding was released this week to replace the rusty fence around the Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Maui with a predator-proof fence.

The bird sanctuary is surrounded by urban and industrial development, but has also been at the center of this week’s mass cleanup of solid waste, abandoned vehicles and camps along Amala Place.

“To be honest Kanahā Pond must have grown on top of me. At first I just thought it was a hot, muddy, swampy place, ”said Sasha Smith, forestry and wildlife technician with DLNR’s Forestry and Wildlife Division who has been monitoring the sanctuary for a decade. “I discovered a side of the pond that most people don’t see. There are a lot of misconceptions, ”she said.

The pond is supplied with fresh water and was prehistorically a true wetland, which is now heavily modified, but still functions as a wetland. It now acts as a flood control basin as well as a wildlife sanctuary.

Smith, other DOFAW and DLNR land division personnel, as well as a contractor, participated in the cleanup operations on the makai side of Kanahā this week. On Tuesday, agents from DLNR’s Conservation and Resource Enforcement Division evacuated the last of those who had set up long-term camps in the naupaka bushes next to the beach.

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Officials from the State Department of Lands and Natural Resources say Kanahā Pond protects Hawaii’s waterbirds, many of which are endangered, as well as migratory bird species. The most common of the native species is the Hawaiian stilt – birds that stand in water, sometimes on a very thin leg. Hawaiian coots, coloa ducks, night herons (‘auku’u) and nēnē also frequently roost and feed in the pond.

Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. PC: Hawai’i DLNR.
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When the wildlife reserve is open, usually from September to April, many visitors are also fascinated by the multitude of bunkers dating back to World War II. Yesterday, a trio of nēnē were seen on top of one of the ruined bunkers. Smith said the birds are a breeding pair and last year’s offspring, just to check things out.

Kanahā Pond Wildlife Sanctuary. PC: Hawai’i DLNR.

The governor’s release on Wednesday of $ 300,000 at the cost of $ 1.3 million of a predator-proof fence brings the project closer to the expected completion of August 2022.

Smith said, “We’re about to build the fence. The permanent encampments on Amala Place made it impossible for the project to continue, but thanks to the division working diligently to find federal grants, along with state funding, we are close.

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The fence will be constructed with rust resistant materials and will prevent deer, cats, dogs, mongooses, mice and rats from entering the sanctuary, damaging vegetation and attacking birds.

According to DLNR officials, “Smith hopes that once the fence is erected and other restoration work is completed, more people in Maui and across the state will view Kanahā Pond as the treasure that it is… l one of the largest and most important refuges for wildlife. in Hawaii. “


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Betty T. Simpson

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