Visitor center at wildlife refuge to reopen

South Maui facilty closed in 2014

The Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center will be reopening Tuesday morning, after being shut down in 2014. Problems with the air conditioning, heating and ventilation system and humidity controls have been resolved. -- Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge photo

The Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, which has been closed since May 2014 due to issues with environmental controls in the building, will be reopening Tuesday, just in time for National Wildlife Refuge Week.

The visitor center at Milepost 6 on Mokulele Highway reopens at 8 a.m. The building was closed because of problems with the air conditioning, heating and ventilation system and humidity controls, said Courtney Brown, refuge visitor services manager.

There were no structural changes to the building, she said. The modifications to the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system that allows humidity control cost $500,000. The original contractor also did work to seal the building at no cost.

The visitor center and refuge offer Maui residents and visitors the opportunity to explore interactive exhibits, hands-on activities for children and wildlife viewing areas where some 30 species of birds, including migratory ducks and the endangered Hawaiian stilts and coots, can be seen in their natural habitat.

The refuge has walking trails and a coastal boardwalk in Maui’s largest lowland wetland. The wildlife refuge was established in 1992 and covers about 700 acres between Kihei and Maalaea.

Refuge hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. Visitor center hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. The boardwalk is open seven days a week from sunrise until 7 p.m. It is closed on federal holidays.

To celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week from Sunday to Oct. 14, the refuge will offer guided bird walks Tuesday to Friday. Visitors interested in the walks should meet at the visitor center at 9 a.m. They are advised to wear comfortable shoes and bring binoculars and drinking water.

Admission is free.

For more information, contact Brown by email at courtney_brown@fws.gov or phone at 875-1582.


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