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First Wind endangered bird enclosure nearly complete

August 1, 2013
Maui Weekly

The Maui News - Habitat conservationists are continuing their work on the Makamaka'ole seabird mitigation project in the West Maui Mountains between Kahakuloa and Makamaka'ole.

First Wind, the Boston-based renewable energy company that operates the Kaheawa Wind farms above Ma'alaea, is in the process of building two bird enclosures--one for the endangered Hawaiian petrel, or uau, and the other for the threatened Newell's shearwater, or ao--on state land located about 10 miles west of Wailuku as part of its effort to offset potential impacts of the wind farms.

As part of its state and federal permitting to build one of the largest wind farms in Hawai'i, First Wind had agreed to put together a habitat conservation plan to ensure "a long-term net conservation benefit" for three threatened and endangered bird species and the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, which could be affected by the wind project.

Enclosed inside a protective fence near the top of the mountain, the simple structures are designed to give the seabirds a safe, comfortable place to nest. The enclosure's fence is designed to allow predators to climb out but not climb in. The fence encloses three to four acres.

"When fully operational, these enclosures will protect and bolster Maui's endangered native bird species for years to come," Dave Cowan, vice president for environmental affairs at First Wind, said in a statement.

The fence for the second enclosure will be installed within the next couple weeks, with both enclosures expected to be finished by fall, according to company officials.



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