October 2023 – We are grateful for so much at Hawai`i Nature Center. One of our year’s most memorable moments was when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the reopening of the Betty Nagamine Bliss Overlook in a rededication ceremony. Since the overlook was destroyed by a fire in December 2021, it has been closed to the public ever since. The overlook is part of the Honouliuli Unit of Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge in ʻEwa Beach.
Ric Lopez, the Administrator of the Pacific Islands Refuges and Monuments Office, said “The overlook not only honors the conservation work Mrs. Bliss did for endangered waterbirds, but also serves as a pathway for future conservationists to see these birds up close and cultivate an enthusiasm to participate in, and support their protection.”
Mrs. Bliss taught at McKinley High School in Honolulu as a high school teacher. She established the refuge in the 1970s and advocated for the endangered waterbirds. This overlook was built in partnership with the Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Navy. She was named in her honor in the hopes her legacy of education and connection with Hawaiian birds would live on at the refuge.
Pictured here is Hawai`i Nature Center’s Operations & Volunteer Program Director Pauline Kawamata who has led teams of volunteers to this area to clear invasive species and other restoration projects. Her work over many years to protect this wetland is commendable.