Celebrating the wild places

KILAUEA — A week of exploration awaits birdwatchers, adventure junkies and history buffs at Kilauea Point for this year’s National Wildlife Refuge Week.

There’s also a smorgasbord of information on conservation, as well as book signings and keiki activities, all in celebration of the nation’s network of wildlife refuges.

“All national wildlife refuges around the country are celebrating this week with added activities to help draw attention to the mission of wildlife service,” said Jennifer Waipa, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Events are scheduled from Monday through Saturday.

Hiking Nihoku, also known as Crater Hill, is one of the activities planned for the week, and the refuge is offering two versions of the hike.

The first tour is set for Monday. It is led by Kim Rogers and goes out to Mokolea Point, the easternmost point on the refuge, where the red-tailed tropic birds nest. The hike also includes warehouse ruins of the Kilauea Plantation.

“That place is very important to the history of Kilauea Town, as it was the entry point for supplies as well as the landing for visitors and some of the plantation’s immigrants,” Waipa said.

Lindsay Young, project coordinator for Pacific Rim Conservation, will lead the second hike, set for Wednesday. Participants will go behind the island’s first predator-proof fence enclosure to see artificial burrows of the recently translocated Newell’s shearwaters.

“There might even be an opportunity to see them,” Waipa said of the Newell’s shearwater chicks.

Those who want to try their hand in a kayak instead can take a Friday tour up the Huleia River in conjunction with Outfitters Kauai, which is followed up with a visit to the Huleia National Wildlife Refuge, which is closed to the public.

“I call Huleia the gem in the middle of town,” Waipa said, “as most people are unaware that there are incredible wetlands tucked behind the ridge at the back of Alekoko Fishpond.”

Authors Hob Osterlund and Caren Lobel-Fried will be signing copies of their books on Saturday. Osterlund has written about the Laysan Albatross, and Lobel-Fried will be signing copies of her books “Hawaiian Legends of Dreams” and “Hawaiian Legends of the Guardian Spirits.”

Information will be available on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the Nene Habitat Conservation Plan, as well as info from the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, Save Our Shearwaters, and the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Group.

The mission of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge is to allow for the balance and restoration of species through management practices, Waipa said. For example, ecosystem management and hunting programs can help provide clean air and water, prevent erosion and prevent flooding.

“Wild lands and the perpetuation of diverse and abundant wildlife are essential to our quality of life,” Waipa said. “We are land stewards that try to instill an ethic of love and respect for our land and the community of life that comes with it.”

For a complete list of events at Kilauea Point, and the starting times, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/kilauea_point/, or call 635-7190. Reservations are required for some events.

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