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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, August 28, 2002

We welcome return of Pearl Harbor wetlands

Environmentalists should be chirping at news that the state is finally moving forward with plans to turn Pouhala Marsh near Pearl Harbor into a 70-acre wetlands bird sanctuary.

Pearl Harbor has lost 75 percent of its wetlands to development, and the marsh project could lure back what was lost, including the wildlife.

We like wetlands because they improve water quality by filtering pollution, help control floods by sponging excess flows, stabilize shorelines and provide sustenance for rare birds and other wildlife.

The Pouhala Marsh project faced a number of bureaucratic hurdles as well as land-use challenges from Tesoro Hawai'i Corp. and the Gas Co., whose fuel pipelines run through part of the sanctuary.

Now that those disputes have been settled, we look forward to the return of endangered species such as Hawaiian ducks, stilts, moorhens and coots. A fence will be built around the sanctuary to protect these waterbirds from dogs, cats and mongooses.

As part of the planned Pearl Harbor Historic Trail, the project also will include an education center. Those who visit can walk out into the wetlands and get a great introduction to biodiversity.