Wildlife sanctuary policy should keep tourism blight off Kawainui habitat

Dear Editor,

Where in the world did the Outdoor Circle come up with the idea that “it looks like DLNR might support a visitor destination modeled after Hanauma Bay or Polynesian Cultural Center because they believe development and tourism will attract funding”? (Re: Oct. 16 Islander report from TOC.) That is totally bogus.

DOFAW doesn’t want that; they want habitat for endangered wetland birds as well as maintaining flood control capacity of the marsh. They also are interested in seeing more cultural uses and passive outdoor recreation around the border of the marsh. This may include hiking trails, educational signage, small parking lots as funding permits.

Also, the statement, “Before we get carried away with putting more buildings, roads, parking lots and trails in the marsh.” Once again they are confusing readers by stating that it will be in the marsh. The marsh is now a state wildlife sanctuary. Construction of roads and parking lots in the marsh will not happen. Perhaps those concerned might read the DOFAW rules related to wildlife refuges which limit visitors to 100 persons per day. Nothing like Hanauma Bay or PCC. They need to get their facts straight.

Example: “Trails will attract dog walkers, and dogs can devastate the nests of endangered birds.” The trails are proposed for the hillsides, not in the marsh. Dogs must be leashed. And endangered birds don’t nest on the hillsides. Predator control will be part of the wetland habitat restoration efforts.

The construction of the Corps of Engineers ponds (not yet completed) at Kawainui below Castle hospital already has resulted in a significant jump in the number of Hawaiian endangered birds using the ponds at Kawainui as habitat. DOFAW conducts community service projects there on the first Saturday of each month. Go work there and find out firsthand how hard it is to maintain wetland habitat in Hawaii.

Kawainui Marsh is an international treasure. As a RAMSAR wetland of international importance we should be supportive of efforts to restore the wetland habitat, and encourage once again, the cultural uses of this special place. Also, its value as an educational, recreational and research site will only increase in the future with the increased restoration efforts.

Rick Kaimi Scudder