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From the Project Leader

As the Project Leader of the O‘ahu National Wildlife Refuge Complex, I am excited for the formation of the Friends of O‘ahu National Wildlife Refuges group. Throughout the country our agency relies on friends groups to provide the support and advocacy necessary to meet our conservation objectives. The most successful and most well-known refuges got to where they are with friends by their side. So, this marks the dawn of a new era for O‘ahu’s refuges, and I see a bright and prosperous future on the horizon.

While our refuges on O‘ahu are relatively small, they are vitally important for a host of threatened and endangered species. To date, there has been limited public visitation for several reasons, prominently the sensitivity of our resources to disturbance and our lack of personnel and adequate funding. But, I do not define limited public visitation as meaning limited public participation. The first few words of the US Fish and Wildlife Service mission are “Working with others…” Congress has necessitated that we work with others to achieve our goals, and I believe this to be a moral imperative as well. My vision for O‘ahu’s refuges includes building strong, trust-based relationships with our local and indigenous communities, and the broader American public. I want to work with our communities to understand each other’s needs and desires, and to make informed management decisions.

As an interdisciplinarian trained in both the social and natural sciences, I see great value in navigating the human dimensions of conservation. We are rarely directly managing wildlife, but more often managing people and their effects on wildlife and their habitats. Without people at our side on Hawaii’s most populated island, in the invasive species capital of the world, we will not move the conservation needle. I want to work with the Friends group to draw attention to these beautiful and critically important natural and cultural landscapes, to help reserve a place in Americans’ heart for these resources, and to recognize the historical and contemporary cultural relationships and knowledge that have served to steward these lands for generations. Together, I think there is hope.

All five units of O‘ahu’s refuges are designated as urban wildlife refuges, occurring within 25 miles of a human population of 250,000 people or more. We are currently the only refuges that qualify in the Pacific, and we far exceed the population threshold. For these resources and habitats to survive alongside of our growing society, we need people to be aware of, care for, and actively help to conserve them. I am committed to our involvement in the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program, and in applying the principles laid out in FWS’ Conserving the Future (PDF Link Below), both of which address the critical importance of humans in the conservation equation. Together with the friends group, I know we will be successful in protecting these resources for the continuing benefit of the American people. Mahalo.

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Joshua Ream (Xíxch'i Toowóo*), PhD (he/his)

Project Leader / Wildlife Refuge Manager

O‘ahu/Maui National Wildlife Refuge Complex

James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge

---I acknowledge that the ‘āina on which I live and work is part of the larger territory recognized by Indigenous Hawaiians as their ancestral grandmother, Papahānaumoku. I recognize that each moment I am in Hawai‘i she nourishes and gifts me with the opportunity to breathe her air, eat from her soils, drink from her waters, bathe in her sun, swim in her oceans, be kissed by her rains, and be embraced by her winds. I

further recognize that generations of Indigenous Hawaiians and their knowledge systems shaped Hawai‘i in sustainable ways that allow me to enjoy these gifts today. For this I am grateful and as a settler, I seek to support the varied strategies that the Indigenous peoples of Hawai‘i are using to protect their land and their communities, and I commit to dedicating time and resources to working in solidarity. Mahalo.---

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