East Hawaii News

Schatz visits Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

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U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawai‘i Democrat and senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was on the Big Island on Thursday to visit Keauhou Bird Conservation Center and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz meets with staff Thursday to discuss the critical work being done at Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. (Courtesy of Schatz’s office)

Schatz has been able to secure millions of dollars in federal funding throughout the past several years to help protect native Hawaiian birds and rebuild infrastructure at the national park. He toured both sites to see firsthand how those funds are being used.

At Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, the senator met with staff and received a briefing about the work being done to care for and protect numerous critically endangered Hawaiian forest birds, including the ʻalalā, palila, ʻakikiki, ʻakekeʻe and kiwikiu.

Schatz has helped secure more than $5 million for the center since 2021. He was eager to see and hear about the great work the center is doing and discuss how the federal government can continue to support its efforts.


“Due to shrinking habitats, disease-carrying mosquitoes and expanding predator populations, Hawai‘i’s native birds have been at risk of extinction for decades,” said Schatz. “But because of the incredible work of conservationists across the state and particularly those at Keauhou Bird Conservation Center in Hilo, we have seen our native bird populations begin to rebound.”

Keauhou Bird Conservation Center is one of two centers operated through a partnership between San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Thursday views Kīlauea Crater inside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and discusses damage from the 2018 eruption with National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey staff. (Courtesy of Schatz’s office)

At Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Schatz toured the damage to roads and buildings following the 2018 Kīlauea eruption and was briefed by park staff about the repairs being made using federal funding Schatz helped deliver.


The senator secured nearly $45 million in federal funding for native plant restoration, perimeter fencing, land conservation efforts and repairs and improvements to roads and buildings, including the park’s visitor center.

He’s excited to continue working to deliver additional federal resources to Hawai‘i’s national parks.

“[Hawai‘i] Volcanoes National Park is a special place that everyone should have access to, but 6 years after the 2018 eruption, the work to repair the damage to key roads and buildings continues,” Schatz said. “I was grateful to the staff for updating me on the progress being made at Volcanoes and hear about the improvements to the visitor center that will make a safer and better park experience for everyone.”


Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is the most visited national park in the islands, with 1.6 million visitors annually, and has been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Schatz also met with Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth during his visit to the island. They discussed working together to deliver additional federal funding to the county.

  • ʻAlalā, a critically endangered native crow and largest surviving endemic Hawaiian forest bird, is seen here Thursday under the care of Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. (Courtesy of Schatz’s office)
  • U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Thursday tours damaged Crater Rim Road at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. (Courtesy of Schatz’s office)

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