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NEW REFUGE EYED FOR HAWAII.

Endangered species in Hawaii would get a boost if all goes as planned for the proposed Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge, now undergoing its final environmental assessment.

"We are in the final stages of the planning process," said Phyllis Ha, senior staff ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu. "It could take another two to three months before the documents are ready for final approval, but we're working very hard on them."

As much as 7,119 acres of some of the best remaining native forest in the Koolau Mountains would be protected by the refuge status. The land, about 20 miles from Honolulu, contains nine native vegetation communities, including koa and 'ohi' a forests.

The refuge is intended to protect and recover endangered and threatened species and conserve native biological diversity, Ha said. Four species of endangered Oahu tree snails, 17 endangered plant species, one candidate plant species, and two plant species of concern have been documented. Native birds include the proposed endangered O'ahu 'Elepaio, the Pueo (Hawaiian owl), and native honeycreepers (O'ahu 'Amakihi' and Apapane).

Supporters include Daniel Sailer, the Hawaii Audubon Society's conservation chair; Hawaii Audubon says the refuge would be a welcome addition to current management efforts. Kate Schuerch, chairwoman of Conservation Council of Hawaii, said the refuge is a step in the right direction.

Initiaily, the refuge's natural resource management would focus on stabilizing endangered and threatened plants and animals and conducting baseline biological surveys to help direct intermediate and long-term refuge management efforts and public use. Other important programs include habitat enhancement projects and controlling invasive alien species and rats, feral pigs, mongooses, and predatory snails.
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Title Annotation:Oahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge
Author:Furukawa, George
Publication:American Forests
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U9HI
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:276
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