Managing the Refuge

KILAUEA — Shuttle systems, parking reservations, and rearranging the layout of the welcome buildings are all part of the newly released comprehensive conservation plan for the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

“The CCP provides a clear and transparent direction for the management of the refuge for the next 15 years,” said Jennifer Waipa, supervisory park ranger for the Refuge.

It emphasizes enhancing coastal ecosystems, restoring seabird breeding populations, conducting monitoring and research, and improving visitor services and environmental education.

“This plan reflects the tireless work of the many people who care deeply for the Refuge and Kauai’s natural and cultural resources,” said Heather Tonneson, project leader for the Kauai National Wildlife Refuge Complex in a news release. “We are excited to present the plan to the public and continue to work with the community in shaping the Refuge’s future.”

Waipa said Refuge written comments and public input to the draft plan were evaluated and some of those comments are reflected in changes in the final version.

One of those changes was maintaining 24-hour access to Kahili Quarry, also known as Rock Quarries beach, and Waipa said the comments that were received resulted in a re-evaluation and revision of the management plan.

“Through a combination of increased community participation and stewardship along with Refuge management action, the reduction in potential adverse impacts would be effectively realized, while ensuring access is safely and effectively maintained,” Waipa said.

Transportation issues are highlighted in the plan, and the changes needed to ease congestion have been separated into short-, medium- and long-range strategies.

Refuge representatives said that the Refuge will adopt “an incremental approach and experiment with small-scale operational and infrastructure improvements” in the short-term.

Those experiments include a parking reservation system, options for offsite parking and a shuttle system, and allowing bicycle and/or pedestrian access from the Overlook into the Point.

Looking long term, refuge representatives said some strategies being considered are relocating the welcome and non-site-dependent functions, like the bookstore, off the Point.

One option pointed out in the plan is eventually to construct a new visitor welcome and orientation center.

Timelines will vary on the projects, Waipa said, depending on urgency, funding availability, complexity, and the need for extensive planning.

Managing the endangered bird populations on and around Kilauea Point is also high on the list of priorities within the plan. The overlook area will be evaluated for redesign to possibly provide a corridor for nene moving between the Point and Crater Hill. There’s also a possibility of expanding the predator-proof fenced areas that already exist.

The final plan can be downloaded from www.fws.gov/kilaueapoint. Printed copies are available for review at the public libraries.

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