The Maui News - A new headquarters and visitor center opened officially Thursday at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge north of Kihei. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and other dignitaries attended the opening ceremonies for the 7,500-square-foot building that replaces a 672-square-foot trailer previously occupied by refuge staff.
The energy-efficient facility includes a 1,358-square-foot lobby and exhibit hall, a 1,043-square-foot multipurpose room, eight offices, a conference room and other workrooms.
The new center "will significantly expand opportunities for visitors, including school groups, to learn about and enjoy the native wildlife in and around Kealia Pond," Inouye said. "Built with economic stimulus funds, this shovel-ready project provided needed jobs on Maui. From construction to conservation, many working hands have contributed to today's success."
The $4.9 million project was built by Bodell Construction, with more than two dozen subcontractors, according to an announcement of the blessing event.
"This is a big step forward for us to better serve our visitors and volunteers," said Glynnis Nakai, project leader for the Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex. "We look forward to expanding our visitor, environmental education and volunteer programs with this new facility. The best part is that the facility will in the long run benefit the native birds and plants that we are here to protect."
More than 10,000 people visit the Kealia refuge annually, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The new headquarters and visitor center is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Access to the facility is off Mokulele Highway at Milepost 6.