Friday, March 23, 2001

Environmental coalition
pushes to increase plants’
critical habitats

Star-Bulletin staff

WAILUKU >> A coalition of environmental groups has criticized a proposed federal plan that fails to designate certain Hawaii areas as "critical habitats" for plants.

The Sierra Club, Conservation Council of Hawaii and Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund have asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase its proposed designation of critical habitats on Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

The areas include Haleakala National Park on Maui, Kanepuu Preserve on Lanai, and Moomomi, Pelekunu and Kamakou Preserves on Molokai.

The coalition said although private landowners and government agencies have worked to protect native Hawaii ecosystems in these areas, designating them as critical habitats would increase protection.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a list of critical habitat areas for threatened and endangered plants on the Hawaiian Islands, following a lawsuit in federal court.

"All of these plants should have been listed in the 1970s," said Karen Blue, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii.

The criticisms were expressed during public hearings about critical habitats held this week on Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

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