Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Viewpoint Now Open
The new Hanalei NWR viewpoint is an additional site that provides safe access and an exciting new way to enjoy the mesmerizing views.

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HANALEI, KAUAʻI, Hawaiʻi – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in partnership with the State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Highways Division, welcomes the community and visitors to the new Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) viewpoint site, which opened to the public on April 30. 

The viewpoint is intended to be a self-guided experience. A six-sided interpretive panel located centrally, welcomes guests to the site and introduces them to Hanalei, the Hanalei NWR, and the National Wildlife Refuge System. Two additional panels at each of the viewpoint openings delve further into the landscape, human and wildlife communities, and management of the refuge.   

Throughout the 20th century people have enjoyed the stunning view of Hanalei Valley from the lookout and the famous rains that provide the life-giving waters that feed its wetlands. With the existing Hanalei lookout remaining in place, the new Hanalei NWR viewpoint is an additional site that provides safe access and an exciting new way to enjoy the mesmerizing views. In addition, the viewpoint allows the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to share with the public the wildlife conservation work happening in the refuge, some Hawaiian history and traditions, and an opportunity to enjoy wildlife and landscape photography.

To commemorate all the efforts that made the viewpoint possible, the refuge hosted a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, April 27, with distinguished guests from the U.S. Congress, State Legislature, state and county agencies, as well as community leaders who were involved with the project.  The event opened with cultural practitioner Kumu Kehaulani Kekua grounding the ceremony with Native Hawaiian oli and protocol, followed by remarks from distinguished guests on what inspired those who helped bring this place to fruition, the whole-hearted intentions behind this manifested vision, what this place means to them, and how this local and national treasure came to be.

Some of the distinguished guests who shared inspirational remarks about the Hanalei refuge viewpoint, how it came into fruition and being part of this celebratory milestone included: Jill Tokuda, U.S. Representative; Gerald Ako with U.S. Senator Hirono’s office; Nadine Nakamura, State Representative;  Alan Yamamoto, retired senior legislative assistant for Sen. Daniel Inouye; Bernard Carvalho, former Kauaʻi Mayor David Sacamano, USFWS project consultant; Charles Parrott, USFWS deputy realty officer; Michael Mitchell, retired deputy refuge manager; and Jennifer Waipa. K visitor services manager), who spoke on behalf of Heather Abbey, the Kauaʻi National Wildlife Refuge Complex Manager. 

“I am proud of the vital conservation mission that this national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

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complex advances, by protecting and preserving this ecosystem, species, cultural resources and way of life for our kalo farmers who continue to keep that long-standing tradition alive, while also extending memorable experiences of the refuge to the people of Kauaʻi and visitors,” Waipa read from Abbey. “The public deserves this new dedicated location where people can learn about the refuge and our partnership with others, such as our refuge kalo farmers and surrounding communities that continue to benefit our endemic waterbirds and their habitat. We look forward to continuing collaborative partnership with the communities we serve.”

Added Parrott: “Partnership is central to the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and partnerships with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation and Kauaʻi County, along with participation and support from the Hanalei community made this project possible.  We recognized and valued the importance to provide an accessible viewpoint for Kauaʻi residents and visitors alike to connect with the refuge and the protected species and their habitats.”

The new viewpoint site will be the primary location for the public to visit the Hanalei NWR, where the public can safely view the many sensitive endangered species and habitats in the valley from a distance. The site will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The viewpoint is a 5.4-acre parcel located along Kūhiō Highway in Princeville, and includes two lookouts featuring views of the greater Hanalei Valley and Bay, Hanalei NWR, and Halele‘a Forest Reserve. The site includes parking for 25 cars, short-term parking for a maximum of three small buses, interpretive displays, vault toilets, and native plantings that will provide residents and visitors with opportunities to learn about the natural and cultural history of the Hanalei Valley and Hanalei NWR.  

The Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge was established under the Endangered Species Act to conserve threatened and endangered species, including five Hawaiian waterbirds that rely on the Hanalei Valley for nesting and feeding habitat: the koloa maoli (Hawaiian duck), the ‘alae ke‘oke‘o (Hawaiian coot), the ‘alae‘ula (Hawaiian moorhen), the ae‘o (Hawaiian stilt), and the nēnē (Hawaiian goose). Forty-five other species of birds and the endangered ʻōpeʻapeʻa (Hawaiian hoary bat) also utilize refuge habitat at some point throughout the year.  

With its patchwork quilt of loʻi kalo and wetland management units, Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge is the oldest of Kaua‘i’s three national wildlife refuges.  The 917-acre refuge was established in 1972 to recover threatened and endangered species, including endangered waterbirds that rely on the Hanalei Valley for nesting and feeding habitat. Learn more about the refuge by visiting our website: www.fws.gov/hanalei or call Jennifer Waipa at (808) 828-1413 x2228.