HAWAII: Maui airport expansion stopped.

This letter from Rich Wilson on the Hawaiian island of Maui tells of the cancellation of plans to expand the island's Kahului international airport. The expansion was opposed by environmentalists because it promoted the spread of alien species -- on of the greatest destroyers of Hawaiian native species. "The important point for conservationists", says Rich, "is that we still have to press ahead to get Hawaii state government to seriously improve current alien species detection and quarantine facilities at ports of entry across the state".

In a news release on Monday, February 7th, Hawaii governor Ben Cayetano announced that he is cancelling plans to expand Kahului airport on the island of Maui. This represents the end of a fourteen year old controversy on this island. Although the airport expansion proposal has been grounded, conservationists still have the difficult task ahead of getting significant and lasting improvements in alien species detection and quarantine facilities at all ports of entry across the state.

For now, this is a great victory for Hawaii's native species and ecosystems! While the state cited economic reasons for their decision, pressure from a federal and state court challenge, as well as activism on the part of many Maui citizens, clearly played a role in defeating this project. One 9th circuit federal judge had already seriously criticized the blatant failure of the EIS to adequately address the alien species threat posed by this project.

So we still have hard work ahead of us in improving our quarantine and detection facilities, but this is at least a solid temporary victory. We knew we were pressuring these guys on several fronts, but this announcement came as a surprise to most of us who were knee deep in this battle.

Can't thank you enough for the support you gave us through RIC.

Rich Wilson