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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, November 17, 2002

Proposed Kaua'i habitat may affect development

Associated Press

A proposed critical habitat could have a substantial economic impact on planned development in the Koloa-Poipu area of Kaua'i, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The service on Friday released a draft economic analysis that said the costs could range from $742 million to $1.9 billion.

The critical habitat would cover 3,955 acres that is home to the endangered Kaua'i cave wolf spider and the Kaua'i cave amphipod. The cave invertebrates are found only in Koloa lava flows, on flat and developable lands, the service said.

Most of the land contains areas planned for residential, resort, commercial, industrial and golf course development, the agency said. In addition, crop farming, a limestone quarry and rights of way for roads and utilities are also planned for the area, it said.

Only 124 acres are owned by the state or local government. The rest is privately owned.

Mike Furukawa, vice president of Grove Farm Properties Inc., which owns 2,600 acres of the land, said he believes the service has purposely underestimated the economic impact and that the actual figure may be much higher.

"It's in their interests to keep the estimated figures low because economic impact is a major factor in deciding on the designation of critical habitat," Furukawa said.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may exclude areas from a critical habitat designation if the benefits of excluding them outweigh the benefits of including them, unless the exclusion would result in the extinction of a protected species.

The service is accepting comments on the draft economic analysis until Dec. 16.

For more information or to comment on the proposal, call the Fish and Wildlife Service at 541-3441.