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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Kahuku sanctuary to double in size

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will acquire 160 acres of land adjacent to the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, a move that will double the size of the Kahuku wetland sanctuary.

The refuge, located off of Kamehameha Highway, is leased from Campbell Estate and consists of two parcels. The 38-acre Punamano unit is naturally spring-fed, while the 126-acre Ki'i unit has seven man-made basins formerly used by Kahuku Sugar Co. as holding ponds.

The Fish and Wildlife Service plans to acquire 160 acres just west of the Punamano unit, said agency spokeswoman Barbara Maxfield. The fee title to Punamano and Ki'i also will be acquired, she said.

Congress has appropriated about $1.8 million for the purchase. Maxfield said the service hopes to close the deal by December.

The refuge is described as a premier recovery site for endangered Hawaiian water foul, such as the Hawaiian stilt, coot, moorhen and duck. Several varieties of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds also frequent the refuge.

In addition to increasing the size of the refuge, the land expansion is expected to protect edges of the Punamano marsh and wetlands. The Fish and Wildlife Service also hopes to build a visitor center, refuge headquarters and maintenance building in an upland area adjacent to the highway.

The agency has managed the refuge since 1976 and has an ongoing program to control alien plants and predators, monitor wildlife and manage wetland water levels to benefit water foul. Low-impact tours during nonbreeding seasons also are conducted.