DIRECTING A STUDY TO RESTORE KEALIA POND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, HAWAII; Congressional Record Vol. 146, No. 68
(House of Representatives - June 06, 2000)

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[Pages H3888-H3889]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  DIRECTING A STUDY TO RESTORE KEALIA POND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, 
                                 HAWAII

  Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 3176) to direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a 
study to determine ways of restoring the natural wetlands conditions in 
the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 3176

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. STUDY OF KEALIA POND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, 
                   HAWAII.

       (a) In General.--The Secretary of the Interior, acting 
     through the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife 
     Service in consultation with the Director of the United 
     States Geological Survey, shall conduct a study to determine 
     ways of restoring the natural wetlands conditions in the 
     Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, Hawaii. The study shall 
     include examination of hydrology, manmade impacts on 
     wetlands, species succession, and imbalances in natural 
     habitat in the refuge.
       (b) Report.--Not later than 1 year after amounts are first 
     available to implement this section, the Secretary shall 
     complete the study under subsection (a) and report to the 
     Congress findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the 
     study.
       (c) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized 
     to be appropriated to the Secretary $250,000 to carry out 
     this section.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Sherwood) and the gentleman from California (Mr. 
George Miller) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Sherwood).


                             General Leave

  Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 3176.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. 
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 3176 addresses an ongoing water management problem at 
the Kealia National Wildlife Refuge on Maui, Hawaii. This bill was 
introduced by our colleague, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink).
  The legislation directs the Secretary of Interior to study the 
serious water management problems that currently exist at the 700-acre 
refuge. The refuge was created in 1992 to conserve habitat for 
endangered birds and to provide a wintering sanctuary for a variety of 
waterfowl species.
  Regrettably, the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to provide the 
necessary resources to manage the water fluctuations. As a result of 
changes in the landscape, this refuge experiences the frequent dry-ups 
which result in dust storms, fish kills, and problems with nuisance 
insects. These problems have a negative economic and health impact on 
the people who live near the refuge.

                              {time}  1345

  This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to study the water 
problems at the refuge and come up with a plan for addressing the 
management needs within 1 year. H.R. 3176 is noncontroversial, and I 
urge an aye vote.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such 
time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3176, to provide for 
the study of the deterioration that has taken place on Kealia Pond 
National Wildlife Refuge on the Island of Maui.
  The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Sherwood) has properly explained 
the legislation. I want to commend and thank our colleague, the 
gentlewoman from Hawaii (Mrs. Mink), for bringing the deterioration of 
this refuge to the attention of the committee.
  I think I and most members of the committee were very disappointed to 
learn the extent to which this refuge, the largest freshwater pond in 
the entire State of Hawaii, could have reached such a degraded 
condition.
  I think this legislation will be important in turning that around, 
and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
  Mrs. MINK of Hawaii. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3176.
  I want to thank Chairman Young, Ranking Member Mr. Miller of the 
Resources Committee and Subcommittee Chairman Saxton and Ranking Member 
Mr. Faleomavaega of the Fisheries Subcommittee for their efforts to 
bring the bill to the floor today.
  I introduced H.R. 3176 on October 28, 1999. The legislation requires 
the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine ways of 
restoring the natural wetlands conditions in Kealia Pond National 
Wildlife Refuge. The study would include an examination of hydrology, 
manmade impacts on wetlands, species succession and imbalances in 
natural habitat in the refuge. The legislation authorizes $250,000 to 
conduct the study. The study would be reported to Congress not later 
than one year after funds for the study are made available.
  The Refuge is located on the island of Maui and is part of the Mai 
Nui National Wildlife Refuge Complex. It was established in 1992 and 
consists of 691 acres. The pond itself is the largest natural pond in 
Hawaii, and covers between 400 and 500 acres at its greatest extent 
during the wet season. The pond is home of two endangered native 
Hawaiian birds, the Hawaiian stilt and the Hawaiian coot. The pond also 
provides food and shelter for numerous migratory waterfowl and 
shorebirds.
  Human activity over the years has significantly changed the nature of 
the pond. In the early 1900's the pond had a depth of between six and 
eight feet. Over the years grazing and agricultural use of the land 
above the pond increased the runoff of sedimentation. Between 1925 and 
1930 the pond was used as a rubbish dump, further reducing the depth of 
the pond. In 1970 twenty-five acres of land north of the pond were 
converted to a commercial aquaculture operation. Dikes were built, 
water impounded and a well dug.
  All these activities have had a deleterious effect on the natural 
habitat of the pond.
  Now the pond has an average depth of only one foot. As the depth of 
the pond decreased the pond increasingly lost the ability to carry off 
sediments. Sand carried into the pond from adjacent dunes that 
otherwise would have been flushed away now stays in the pond further 
reducing the depth.
  The shallow depth of the pond permits it to dry up quickly. The 
natural trade winds of the area then cause great clouds of dust to 
arise. The dust blows into the homes, eyes and lungs of nearby 
residents. The dust causes burning eyes and residents worry that the 
cause may be that the dust contains fertilizer and chemical residue 
from agricultural runoff and unknown chemicals from materials deposited 
during the period the pond was used as a dump.

[[Page H3889]]

  The introduction of non-native species has also changed the ecology 
of the pond. The spotted wing midge was first identified in Hawaii in 
1945. The midge has found the pond to be an extremely attractive 
habitat. A study by Ducks Unlimited estimated that on any given day 
during the wet season there may be as many as 200 million adult and 
near-adult midges During midge season the uninitiated visitor may think 
the refuge is on fire at dawn or dusk, with smoldering fires throwing 
up swirling clouds of smoke. But it is not smoke. It is clouds of 
midges swarming.
  The midge swarms invade surrounding residences. The midges are small 
enough to go through screens and some residents have been reduced to 
keeping their lights out in a vain effort to keep the invaders away. 
Motorists report that their cars are covered with squashed midges when 
driving in the area.
  Kealia Pond is also home to non-native tilapia. These fish make up 90 
percent of the fish population of the pond. They do more damage than 
good for the wetlands. When the pond dries up there are massive fish 
die offs. In 1996 Maui correctional inmates, working under the 
direction of the pond's on-site manager, removed 14 tons of dead and 
rotting fish from the refuge.
  There have been studies of aspects of the ecology of the pond done 
over the years, both in the public and private sector. However, the 
studies have frequently concentrated on one aspect of the problem or 
another. There has been no study directed at restoring Kealia Pond to 
its natural state.
  H.R. 3176 requires a study to identify ways of dealing with these 
man-made plagues of dust, bugs and rotting fish. My constituents 
recognize the value of the pond and its contribution to preserving 
native Hawaiian endangered species. They want to see Kealia Pond 
restored to its natural state with its native fauna.
  Passage of H.R. 3176 will get the answers needed to restore Kealia 
Pond.
  Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Pease). The question is on the motion 
offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Sherwood) that the 
House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 3176.
  The question was taken.
  Mr. SHERWOOD. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the 
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be 
postponed.

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