20 Apr SPOTLIGHT | Taylor Smith

Stretching from Turtle Bay Resort to Kahuku Sugar Mill, James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge is home to four native endangered waterbirds in Hawaii the Hawaiian Duck (koloa), Hawaiian Stilt (Ae’o), Hawaiian Moorhen (‘Alae ‘Ula) and Hawaiian Coot (‘Alae Ke’oke’o) (pictured in order below). The refuge’s dunes are important habitats for native animals; monk seals haul out onto our shores to rest, and sea turtles regularly lay their eggs here. The dunes are also one of only two dune systems on the island that are home to the native and endangered Hawaiian yellow-faced bee, which stays within small stretch of naupaka and tournefortia.


My work at James Campbell involves improving habitats for our native birds controlling predators, propagating native plants, removing invasive species, and helping with regular surveys to assess the waterbird and shore bird populations at the refuge.

We also work with various non-profit environmental groups that bring a handful of volunteers, as well as participate in cleanups every few months with 100 or more volunteers, to help us keep the plastic levels in check.

The beaches get impressively clean, but quickly get covered in trash again. Every island has a marine debris accumulation point where currents, weather patterns, and land shape cause marine debris to accumulate in large amounts. The beaches of James Campbell’s refuge are accumulation points for O‘ahu. 

To learn more about the James Campbell National Wildlife refuge or join a volunteer day at the site, visit www.fws.gov/refuge/James_Campbell/.

Taylor Smith is a second-year member of Kupu’s Conservation Leadership Development program working with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge in Kahuku.

“I got into conservation because I love science and working with animals. I believe that we are meant to be stewards of the land and animals that God created. Conservation allows me to tie all that together into an achievable goal.”


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