DLNR seeks comment on Mana Plain restoration

LIHU‘E — State officials will be hosting two public informational meetings on the proposed restoration of wetland and associated coastal upland habitat within the Mana Plain Forest Reserve on Kaua‘i’s Westside. The meetings will be held tonight in Puhi and Wednesday evening in Kekaha.

The Mana Plain Wetland Restoration Project would involve 105 acres immediately north of the Kawai‘ele Waterbird Sanctuary, near mile marker 31 on Kaumuali‘i Highway.

In addition, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment that identifies proposed project actions including wetland and coastal strand restoration, habitat restoration for the four endangered Hawaiian waterbirds, native Hawaiian plants, as well as environmental education, outreach, and wildlife-oriented recreation activities.

“Restoring this portion of the once expansive wetlands of the Mana Plain would aid in the recovery of Hawai‘i’s native endangered waterbirds, including Hawaiian ducks (koloa maoli) and Hawaiian stilts (a‘eo),” DLNR Chair William Aila Jr. said in a press release.

The Mana Plain once contained expansive wetland habitats.

Prior to its drainage and conversion to agricultural lands during the early 1900s, approximately 1,700 acres of permanent, semi-permanent, and seasonal wetlands were present on the Mana Plain.

The wetland complex was one of the largest of its kind in Hawai‘i. The proposed project would help to restore a portion of these historic wetlands.

The restored wetlands would help to re-establish native Hawaiian plants, once common to the area, and provide an opportunity for the public to experience the endangered Hawaiian birds in their traditional habitat, according to Aila.

Puhi’s meeting will be tonight at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Kekaha’s meeting will be Wednesday at Kekaha Neighborhood Center, from 7 to 9 p.m.

Visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/dofaw to view the draft environmental assessment. Hard copies are available at any of the six public libraries on Kaua‘i.

Comments can be submitted to Jason Vercelli, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, 3060 Eiwa St., Room 306, Lihu‘e, HI 96766 or sent electronically to Jason.A.Vercelli@hawaii.gov. Comments must be received by June 22.

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