09/21/21-DAY TWO OF MAJOR CLEAN-UP OF MAUI MOVES TO STATE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

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For immediate press release: September 21, 2021

SECOND DAY OF MAJOR CLEANING OF MAUI MOVES TO STATE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY

(Kahului, Maui) – As Maui County crews and contractors continued to clean up trash, belongings and abandoned vehicles on a ¾-mile stretch of Amala Place, staff from three DLNR (Land , Forestry and Wildlife, Conservation and Resource Enforcement) has started removing illegal camps from neighboring state lands.

Supported by a large team of the HTM contractor, the clean-up crews moved from the road to the Kanaha Pond State Wildlife Refuge, which was severely affected by the heavy presence of people living on Amala Place.

Sasha Smith, forestry technician in DLNR’s Forestry and Wildlife Division (DOFAW), manages the sanctuary for native and migratory birds. She directed crews to camps, some quite large and elaborate, hidden in naupaka on the makai side of Amala Place.

Smith detailed the challenges and issues associated with a strong human presence right next to the shrine. “Over the past decade people have probably had an impact on the natural resources of the bird sanctuary, but over the past year the situation has become much worse,” she said. Smith was unable to do any work, such as removing the invasive weeds, as people set up camp right next to the protective fence around the 150-acre shrine.

DOFAW is working with the county on this week’s cleanup to help combat the impacts of illegal camps on the wildlife preserve. Scott Fretz, manager of the DOFAW Maui branch, removed Smith and other workers from the sanctuary for their own safety. “There have been incidents where our staff have been harassed, unauthorized entry into the sanctuary and vandalism.” commented Fretz.

“We are also concerned about the potential health risks in the region from trash and rubbish dumped over the fence and into Kanaha Pond, which is one of the state’s most important breeding habitats. for endangered waterbirds “. The protective fence surrounding the sanctuary was damaged, allowing predators like feral cats and rats to prey on the birds. Smith reports encountering drug paraphernalia, needles and other potentially dangerous items.

The pond is also an important wintering area for many migratory birds that breed in northern climates such as Alaska and then annually fly over the Pacific to Hawai’i.

On Monday, Lt. John Yamamoto of the DLNR Division of Resource Conservation and Enforcement (DOCARE) and his officers stationed half a dozen camps in the bushes next to the beach, warning people that they should move today. They encountered at least two illegal campers who were told to leave before the contract crews and heavy equipment came in to start loading all kinds of stuff.

Yamamoto said, “We all have compassion and empathy for people who are depressed. However, they must realize that an ecologically sensitive wildlife preserve is not the ideal place to set up permanent camps, destroy them and have an impact on native birds. ”

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Media contact:

Dan Dennison Senior Communications Officer Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources

[email protected]

808-587-0396 (Communications office)


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