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Boston-based developer First Wind says it has begun work on a habitat conservation project designed to protect endangered seabirds on Maui.

The Makamakaole seabird mitigation project is part of a larger program undertaken by First Wind to mitigate the potential impacts of the developer's two Kaheawa Wind projects, located several miles away.

As part of the conservation plan, First Wind is constructing two fenced enclosures to protect two native Hawaiian seabirds: the federally endangered Hawaiian Petrel and the threatened Newell’s Shearwater. The enclosures are located about 10 miles west of Wailuku.

Once completed, each enclosure will encompass between four and five acres, and will feature barriers intended to keep non-native predators - such as rats, mongoose and cats - out of the habitat. In addition, each enclosure will contain specific features designed to attract shearwaters and petrels to nest, including artificial burrows, custom decoys and a sound system that broadcasts shearwater and petrel calls.

The birds will be carefully monitored by the project biologists for at least the next 20 years using a variety of methods, including motion-sensor cameras. Efforts will be undertaken to trap and remove non-native predators from the enclosures over the coming months.

The plan was designed in consultation with a number of research experts. First Wind worked with New Zealand-based environmental consultancy EcoWorks, Honolulu-based SWCA Environmental Consultants, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Hawaii Natural Areas Reserve System, the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change, internationally recognized seabird expert David Ainley and Feral Animal Removal Experts LLC.

First Wind has also worked closely with local communities, including the Waihee Community Association, to inform them of the project and ask for their support, the company adds.

The first Kaheawa Wind project went online in 2006, and the second phase entered operation in July 2012.


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