Conserving the Nature of America
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Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Reopens After Fire

July 26, 2019

Contact(s):

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Holly Richards, holly_richards@fws.gov, 808-282-9442
National Park Service: Jin Prugsawan, jin_prugsawan@nps.gov, 808-572-4450



Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and Visitor Center will reopen on Monday, July 29, 2019 after being closed due to the Waiko Road fire. The fire began on July 11, 2019 and quickly spread through sugarcane fields across Maui’s central valley, coming within ten meters of the Visitor Center. No facilities were damaged, largely due to intensive collaborative work by the agencies involved: United States Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, United States Forest Service, State of Hawai’i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and Maui Fire Department. In addition, the refuge’s native pollinator garden, part of a fire break installed around the visitor center in 2017, was thought to have helped save the facilities from damage.  The Kealia Pond Boardwalk was not impacted by the fire and remains open to visitors. 

“We are still assessing the situation and the long-term impacts to wildlife. To our knowledge we have not had any endangered species losses, but we are waiting on our fire team to secure the area and mop up final spots before we get in and do a full assessment,” said Glenn Klingler, Project Leader for the Oahu and Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

While 98% of the fire on the refuge is controlled at this time, crews from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park, and Klamath National Forest’s Mount Hebron Wildland Fire Module continue to put out hot spots, and monitor within the refuge. The fire burned approximately 100 acres of non-native kiawe forest (Prosopis juliflora) on the refuge, including some visitor use areas.  The State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife provided five Type Six engines to the initial fire suppression efforts and continues to dedicate one Type Six engine to the fire under challenging dry and windy conditions.  

“We all have the same goals – protection of native species and safety,” said Haleakala National Park Superintendent Natalie Gates.  “We were happy to assist this skilled and dedicated interagency team.”

Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge is a 700-acre sanctuary established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1992 for the protection of the endangered ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot, Fulica alai) and the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt, Himantopus mexicanus knudseni).  The refuge protects one of the few natural wetlands remaining in the Hawaiian Islands, and the largest lowland wetland on Maui. “We are looking forward to welcoming the community back to enjoy it next week!” said Kingler.

For more information and updates about Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/kealia_pond/.


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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