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Friday, December 22, 2000

Wildlife refuge set up
in Koolau range

By Harold Morse

The Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge has been established in the northern Koolau Mountains, providing habitat for the endangered Oahu elepaio and other native Hawaiian forest birds.

The deed for the 4,525-acre parcel changed hands yesterday, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought the land from Castle and Cooke.

The new refuge is the 17th National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific. It will protect some of the last remaining native forest in the Koolau Mountains.

In addition to native birds, the refuge provides habitat for many native plant species, including 17 that are endangered, four species of endangered Oahu tree snails and native stream fishes.

"We have been working with the Nature Conservancy and Castle and Cooke Inc. for many years on this project," said Jerry Leinecke, project leader, Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

"Castle and Cooke has been a major landowner in Hawaii for more than 150 years," said Harry Saunders, executive vice president of Castle and Cooke Homes Hawaii.

"Through the generations, we have tried to be good stewards of the land, and the transfer of this significant piece of native forest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will ensure that these lands will be protected for the benefit of the public for generations to come."

The Nature Conservancy helped conduct the biological surveys of the property, obtain funding and negotiate the purchase.

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