Construction underway for Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge viewpoint

PRINCEVILLE – Visitors and residents alike can look forward to a new place to enjoy the beauty of the Hanalei Valley from above.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the highways division of the state Department of Transportation, has begun work on the site of the new Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge viewpoint along the Kuhio Highway, just east of Princeville Mall.

The new vantage point will feature signs, interpretive panels and native plants. It will provide opportunities for residents and visitors to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the Hanalei Valley and the Hanalei NWR.

“Educating the public about the cultural history and irreplaceable cultural resources in and around areas of refuge fosters a spirit of stewardship in the community while strengthening the values ​​of our staff as members of the community. “said Ivan Vicente, spokesperson for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. in a written statement.

The project, which totals just under $ 4 million, is expected to be completed this summer. Funding is provided by the USFWS, state DOT, and the Federal Highways Administration.

The Viewpoint is a 5.4-acre parcel that includes two viewpoints overlooking the Grand Valley and Hanalei Bay, Hanalei NWR, and Halele’a Forest Reserve.

The site will be able to accommodate more people than the existing gazebo, with parking for 25 cars, short-term parking for up to three buses, perimeter fence and entrance gate, toilets and arched seating. There will also be space for shelter staff or volunteers to provide outreach and information services.

The USFWS has provided a list of native species suggested for planting based on native plants currently present or known to be there, and recommended in a habitat management plan for that area. For this area, due to the proximity of vehicles and people, plants that are sources of food for native fauna were not recommended.

The project took a long time to come, as it was first proposed in 2003 because Hanalei’s existing vantage point is insufficient, with inadequate parking, uncontrolled road access and an observation area too close from the highway.

The new view will be considerably larger and will take into account vehicle projections for the next 20 years. It was designed to accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles per day.

According to Shelly Kunishige, DOT communications manager, the new viewpoint will improve safety on the Kuhio Expressway by adding acceleration and deceleration lanes to allow those accessing the viewpoint to exit and d ” enter the highway safely and efficiently.

An environmental assessment was conducted to assess the potential effects of the project and to solicit public comments. The EA reported that only minor effects to habitat and wildlife use are anticipated. The species that were present at the site before construction began were mostly invasive and non-native, and would not be adversely affected in terms of local or regional abundance, the EA concluded.

During the environmental assessment process, USFWS also met with partners and interested parties, including elected officials, Kaua’i County and Hanalei taro growers, to gather information and assess the impact.

For more information about the project and to view the EA and conclusion of a non-significant impact as a result of the project, see fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=6442459022.

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Laurel Smith, editor and photographer, can be reached at 245-0424 or [email protected]


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