STAR-BULLETIN / 2001
Kawainui Marsh is the largest remaining wetland in Hawaii and provides habitat for four of Hawaii's endangered and endemic water birds: the Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian duck. CLICK FOR LARGE
Kawainui Marsh wildlife plan pact reached
After years of wrangling, the city and state have reached an agreement on wildlife restoration plans for Kailua's Kawainui Marsh, officials announced yesterday.
The concept of creating shallow ponds for endangered Hawaiian waterbirds in the overgrown wetland has been on the drawing board for years.
But disagreement between the state and city over who would maintain the levee that protects the Coconut Grove neighborhood from flooding has blocked the project from moving forward.
Federal officials had warned that they would not grant money for habitat restoration projects until the city and state had a flood-management agreement.
Parties have agreed:
» The city will relinquish ownership of its portion of the 1,000-acre marsh to the state.
» The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will take over maintenance of the levee, which was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a flood-control device.
» The city will continue to maintain Oneawa Canal.
» In the event of a major flood, both governments will be liable.
"This is the day we've been waiting for," said Chuck "Doc" Burrows, one of dozens of volunteers who have labored to protect and improve the marsh's cultural and natural significance.
"This agreement allows the community to make the marsh the wonderful place it can be," said Mitch D'Olier, president and CEO of Kaneohe Ranch, who helped mediate the plan.
House Bill 1899, Senate Draft 2, formalizes the agreement and is bound for a conference committee to work out differences between House and Senate versions.
The state is asking for $500,000 to manage the marsh in its first year and $420,000 in subsequent years, DLNR Director Peter Young said.
In addition to continuing levee maintenance, the money will provide for a wildlife biologist and two technicians to work on marsh restoration, said Paul Conry, administrator of the Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
Kawainui Marsh is the largest remaining wetland in Hawaii and provides habitat for four of Hawaii's endangered and endemic water birds: the Hawaiian stilt, Hawaiian moorhen, Hawaiian coot and Hawaiian duck. The marsh is in a caldera of the former Koolau shield volcano considered sacred to native Hawaiians.
Last year, it was named a "Wetland of International Importance" by the Ramsar Convention, a designation that could help garner grant monies.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's office will seek $4.1 million for wetland restoration funding, Inouye's chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas, said.
A master plan for the marsh has suggested a boardwalk over part of the marsh, wildlife viewing stations and walking paths around its border.