(Media release) â€” Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) last week introduced the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge Expansion Act of 2010, H.R. 5380, which authorizes the expansion of this Refuge on the island of Hawaii.
Once signed into law, the National Wildlife Refuge would encompass two adjacent parcels containing native forest habitat that supports some of the most endangered forest birds in the nation and the world.
In introducing the bill, Congresswoman Hirono expressed her determination to preserve Hawaiiâ€™s unique animals and plants.â€œHawaii, much like the Galapagos, is a hotspot of species diversity and unique adaptations,â€ said Congresswoman Hirono. â€œAs members of Congress, it is our duty to help to preserve our precious natural heritage for future generations.”
The Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refugeâ€™s purpose is to protect and manage endangered Hawaiian forest birds and their rainforest habitat. The proposed areas for addition already provide habitat for Hawaiian forest birds but alternative uses, such as harvesting koa trees, could endanger that habitat. Inclusion of these lands as part of the refuge will ensure that these areas can continue to contribute to the survival and recovery of Hawaiian forests and the native birds, plants, and insects that depend on them.
As a result of its geographic isolationâ€”more than 2,000 miles from a major land massâ€”these bird species and plants only exist in the Hawaiian islands, and, in many cases, are restricted to this one island.Â
The current owners of the two parcels authorized for acquisition under this Act are willing sellers. Due to its ecological importance, there is strong interest in Hawaiiâ€™s conservation community to help provide some of the financing needed to secure the parcels for ultimate acquisition by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
â€œOpportunities like thisâ€”to secure such valuable habitat from willing sellersâ€”donâ€™t come along often. I am committed to protecting our natural worldâ€™s biological diversity,â€ said Congresswoman Hirono, â€œand naturally I feel a special responsibility because my Congressional district contains some of the most beautiful and ecologically important places in our world.â€