Maui Business

Unstable Funding Threatens Big Island Refuge

December 31, 2015, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated December 31, 7:56 AM
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Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge koa planting. Photo credit: Jack Jeffrey.

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge koa planting. Photo credit: Jack Jeffrey.

While the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the eastern mid-elevation slopes of Mauna Kea is celebrating its 30th anniversary, it’s also facing very serious challenges, including the instability of federal funds. A group of “Friends” have come together to address this dilemma.

“The Refuge was established in 1985 through the joint efforts of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy and private landowners.” said Jim Kraus, manager of the refuge.

Kraus said there are very good reasons to celebrate.

Iiwi on akala at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Jack Jeffrey.

Iiwi on akala at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: Jack Jeffrey.

“Hakalau is the only forest in Hawai‘i where native bird populations are increasing,” Kraus said. “This, in large part, is due to aggressive habitat management by the refuge and the role played by staff and volunteers. Restoring native forest that has been devastated by feral pigs, cattle and invasive weeds is no easy task.”

But progress made in one year may be lost in the next when funding levels decline as a result of competing priorities, sequestration and government shutdowns.

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To address this problem, the Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge and a group of establishing donors have come together to create an endowed fund managed by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. Donations to HCF will be pooled and invested.

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Through the Hakalau Forest Refuge Management Endowment, the HCF will make annual annual grants to support the conservation work on the Refuge.

“These funds will help the Refuge to stabilize its management programs”, said Layne Yoshida, president of the Friends of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. “This is truly a gift that keeps on giving.”

To find out more about the endowed fund and how you can help, go online.

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