HONOLULU — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reopening of the Betty Nagamine Bliss Overlook in a re-dedication ceremony, May 9, 2023. The overlook, which is part of the Honouliuli Unit of Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge in ʻEwa Beach, has been closed to the public since it was destroyed by fire in December 2021. Each year, students from across the island of Oʻahu visited the Honouliuli Unit and overlook to learn about Hawaiian wetlands and native birds that rely on these protected areas.
“We are proud to announce the reopening of the Betty Nagamine Bliss Overlook,” said Ric Lopez, Administrator of the Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office. “The overlook not only honors the conservation work Mrs. Bliss did for endangered waterbirds, but also serves as a pathway for future conservationists to see these birds up close and cultivate an enthusiasm to participate in, and support their protection. In many ways, she’s still teaching future generations today.”
Bliss was a high school teacher at McKinley High School in Honolulu. She helped establish the refuge in the 1970s and was an advocate for the endangered waterbirds that call the refuge home. The overlook, built in partnership with the Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Navy, was named in her honor in the hopes her legacy of education and connection with Hawaiian birds would live on at the refuge.
“We understand the importance of the Betty Nagamine Bliss Overlook to the surrounding community, and we are excited for people to finally return,” said Joshua Ream, Project Leader for the Oʻahu and Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “We also want to commend the local community for their involvement and continued help keeping the overlook safe from future vandalism by reporting any problems they might see, and using the regularly.”
Visitors are welcome at the Betty Nagamine Bliss Overlook at the refuge to view wetlands and the endangered aeʻo (Hawaiian stilt), ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), ‘alae ‘ula (Hawaiian gallinule), and koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck), as well as a variety of migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. Surrounding the protected wetland is a mammalian proof fence designed to keep out introduced predators responsible for the decline of Hawaiian waterbird species. For more information about visiting the Pearl Harbor NWR visit: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/pearl-harbor
Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge serves to protect some of the last remaining wetland areas on O‘ahu. The three units of this refuge, Honouliuli, Kalaeloa, and Waiawa, are vital to endangered wildlife and plants and sensitive coastal habitats. The refuge is home to a robust environmental education program and community and cultural partnerships — helping connect urban and wild spaces.
Imagery and video of the event can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/albums/72157624814231316
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information, visit www.fws.gov/pacificislands, or connect with us through any of these social media channels at https://www.facebook.com/PacificIslandsFWS, www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/, https://medium.com/usfwspacificislands or www.twitter.com/USFWSPacific.