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National Wildlife Refuge to Get a New Outlook

A view of the Hanalei Valley.

Consider adding another must-see to your next Hawaiian vacation itinerary. Surrounded by lush hilltops and waterfalls, the 917-acre Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) blankets the Hanalei River Valley and scenic north shore region of Kauai.

Established in 1972 under the Endangered Species Act, Hanalei is the oldest of Kauai’s three national wildlife refuges and furnishes critical nesting and feeding habitat to endangered resident and migratory water birds. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the NWR ranges from 20 to 40 feet above sea level. Water from the Hanalei River irrigates approximately 75 acres of the wetland areas, 180 acres of taro patches, and 90 acres of wet pasture before returning to the river.

Although the Hanalei NWR is closed to the public to protect five species of endangered water birds, plans are underway to incorporate new amenities and perimeter trails that will give visitors a bird’s-eye view of the splendor of the Hanalei River Valley and its critical areas.

BergerABAM is preparing a feasibility study and concept design alternatives for the new outlook facilities and trail system. The site of the proposed Hanalei Valley Viewpoint sits on elevated land or “pali” overlooking the Hanalei River and the NWR. The project will construct viewpoint structures with vistas of the river and surrounding mountain and ocean landscape, an open-sided interpretive “hale” building, restrooms, an information kiosk and educational signs, pedestrian pathways, and other amenities. The trail system will link to a proposed residential area and nearby shopping center. Plans also include parking for viewpoint visitors, as well as a park-and-ride facility on approximately 5 acres south of the Kuhio Highway to support a planned north shore transit system. This transit system seeks to reduce traffic congestion on the popular north shore roads by providing transportation alternatives to personal vehicles and will link popular tourism destinations and parking facilities.

Potential visual impacts from the viewpoints and other visitor amenities will be minimized through the use of topography, material selection, and landscape screening. BergerABAM will collaborate with the project stakeholders to select and refine a preferred concept before preparing rough order-of-magnitude cost estimates and phasing plans. The team will summarize the design process, concepts, and cost estimates in a written feasibility report. The findings from this study will help secure development funding, solidify project support from stakeholders, and establish project development time lines.

More information about the Hanalei NWR can be found here.