Federal funding to protect native plants and birds

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are providing about $300,000 in grant funds to private landowners in Lumahai Valley, Kapaa and Kalihiwai to protect endangered plants and Hawaii birds.

Fish and Wildlife officials said the funds are targeted for several parcels in Lumahai Valley and for 255 acres of freshwater and brackish water wetlands and upland areas in Kapaa and Kalihiwai.

The $300,000 is part of $1.2 million in grant funds that will be coming to Hawaii. Those funds are part of $9.4 million that will be dispersed for conservation projects in 43 states through the “Private Stewardship Grant” program.

The program was initiated by President Bush when he was still governor of Texas, federal officials said.

Fish and Wildlife officials said $155,100 will be used to establish management practices in Lumahai Valley to address critical threats to plants posed by mammals with hoofs and invasive plant species and further loss of habitats for endangered species.

Fish and Wildlife officials said ten endangered and rare plants are known to exist in the areas planned for protection.

The areas where these endangered plants have been found have been designated as critical habitats for protection by the federal agency.

Fish and Wildlife officials also said the Hawaiian petrel and the Newell shearwater birds will benefit from the new project.

Officials with the University of Hawaii applied for the grants on behalf of the private landowner, Kamehameha Schools, according to Naomi Bentivoglio, a Fish and Wildlife biologist in Honolulu.

Lumahai Valley is the Bishop Estate’s largest land holding on Kauai. The estate’s trust funds Kamehameha Schools.

The federal program also will provide $145,858 to restore about 40 acres of wetlands, 100 acres of brackish water wetlands and 115 acres of upland and ravine habitats on two private properties in mauka areas of Kapaa and Kalihiwai.

The beneficiaries of the project will be the Hawaiian water birds Koloa, alae ke okeo, alae ula and aeo, as well as the nene, or Hawaiian goose.

The project is aimed at encouraging plant growth, installing predator-proof fencing, controlling noxious weeds and restoring native plants, Fish and Wildlife officials said.

Ducks Unlimited, a mainland, non-profit organization with a branch office on Oahu, applied for the grant funds on behalf of private landowners, who were not named.

Barbara Maxfield, a Fish and Wildlife official on Oahu, said Ducks Unlimited has pushed for restoration of duck habitats throughout the world, and has been involved in similar restoration projects in Hanalei Valley in the past.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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