Hawaii Wildlife Fund

Hawaiian Electric
3 min readApr 26, 2023

by Kristen Okinaka | April 26, 2023

At Hawaiian Electric, we believe it’s important to serve as stewards for our islands. Together with our ohana and friends, we support organizations that preserve and protect our land, ocean and cultural sites.

Kamilo Point is one example. Located in a remote area in the Kau Forest Reserve on Hawaii Island, the stretch of white sand beach is a nesting area for sea turtles and other native wildlife and plants. Yet the natural beauty of this wildlife haven is littered with floating marine debris from the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a gyre that’s estimated to be larger than Texas.

Hawaii Wildlife Fund has been working with our community on coastal habitat restoration and marine wildlife protection efforts along the Kau coastline since 2001. With the help of thousands of volunteers, the organization has removed more than 320 tons of marine debris from shorelines and reefs on the island. Some of the collected debris is repurposed for research, art and re-use initiatives.

Founded by former National Marine Fisheries Service scientists Bill Gilmartin and Hannah Bernard in 1996, the nonprofit is dedicated to the conservation of Hawaii’s native wildlife through research and education. Their work includes bringing awareness and solutions to the problems facing Hawaiian plants, animals, coral reefs, and ecosystems.

Hawaiian Electric twice partnered with Hawaii Wildlife Fund to collect debris that washed ashore on Kamilo Point. Earlier this month, volunteers collected 363 pounds of debris, including 36 pounds of derelict fishing line and net bundles, 40 pounds of broken glass, and more than 30 pounds of microplastics.

Both efforts were led by Land Agent Alex Kelepolo who also is a recipient of our 2022 Kokua Community Champion Service Award. The award is given by the HEI Charitable Foundation and recognizes employees for exemplary community service.

“I led this project to educate and raise awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment and native wildlife and the impact volunteers and Hawaii Wildlife Fund have made on our island,” Alex said. “Serving our community is priceless. It’s giving your time, dedication and heart to malama aina. We all have kuleana to ensure the preservation and protection of Hawaii’s natural resources for future generations.”

Hawaiian Electric also presented Hawaii Wildlife Fund with a $15,000 donation to support its Kau Coastal Restoration Program. The program focuses on coastal restoration efforts within and around the Kau Forest Reserve in Waiohinu plus environmental education efforts, anchialine pool and estuary restoration, and capacity-building across Hawaii Island.

“We are thrilled that the $15,000 grant award will help us continue our efforts to protect native wildlife, restore habitats, and bring our hands-on environmental education programs to youth across Hawaii Island,” said Megan Lamson, Hawaii Wildlife Fund president. “We are grateful for the volunteer and financial support from local businesses and these unique opportunities to engage new audiences in our conservation activities!”

Visit www.wildhawaii.org to learn more about Hawaii Wildlife Fund and how you can support their efforts to help our native wildlife and precious resources thrive.

Kristen Okinaka is a senior communications specialist at Hawaiian Electric.



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