Wetland Restoration Approved Despite Contention

It started simply enough: transform an overgrown wetland into a habitat for endangered water birds. But after three years of seeking approval from federal, state and county officials – and enduring objections from the community over his plans – Kip Dunbar is anxious to begin work.

Dunbar plans to restore about an acre of deteriorated wetland on the east end, skimming the water’s surface down 18 inches to remove invasive vegetation and building a fence around the perimeter to keep out predators.

“Slowly but surely this wetland has narrowed and narrowed,” Dunbar said. “Once you take the vegetation out of there and it stops transpiring all the water, it’ll be a wetland again.”

Last week, Dunbar received permission from the Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) to begin work, the last in a series of regulatory hurtles. The project has already been signed off on by the Army Corp of Engineers, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the state Historic Preservation Committee.

Arleone Dibben-Young, a local water bird researcher, created a similar wetland on her property near Kawela 10 years ago, which is now home to Bristle-thighed curlews and endangered Hawaiian Stilts and Coots. Dibben-Young testified to MoPC in support of Dunbar’s project.

Marine ‘Mud Ops’ to help endangered birds next week | The Honolulu Advertiser


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Marines at Kaneohe Bay are due to help endangered native birds this week by driving amphibious assault vehicles through the mud as part of three days of exercises that begin today.

The annual exercises at the Nuupia Ponds Wildlife Management Area at Marine Corps Base Hawai’i are called "Mud Ops."

The vehicles break up weeds on mudflats, improving foraging and ground-nesting opportunities for endangered Hawaiian Stilts that live there.

Without these efforts, the invasive pickle weed would crowd the birds out of their natural habitat.

The number of Hawaiian stilts using the ponds has grown to 160 from 60 since the Marines began Mud Ops 28 years ago.

Other native and migratory waterbirds have also started using the Windward O’ahu ponds more.

Marine ‘Mud Ops’ to help endangered birds next week | honoluluadvertiser.com | The Honolulu Advertiser