Lehua Island Ecosystem Restoration Project

An image of Lehua Island with a rainbow and an albatross, with text reading "Lehua Island Ecosystem Restoration Project"

Photo credit: Mele Khalsa, Island Conservation

Lehua Island is a 284-acre island located three-fourths of a mile off the northern shore of Niihau (a privately owned 46,080-acre island). Lehua is a state-designated seabird sanctuary managed by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and federally owned by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Lehua is one of Hawaii’s most important seabird colonies because of its size and height above sea level.  It also offers a unique opportunity for restoring an island ecosystem.

A screenshot of the Lehua Island Past and Future StoryMap

A screenshot from the “Lehua Island: Past & Future” StoryMap, which provides a timeline of Lehua’s history as well as a slideshow of images of birds on the island.

Lehua Island is Declared Rat-Free

In April 2021, the Lehua Island Ecosystem Restoration Project announced that Lehua Island is now considered rat-free. The announcement comes after decades of work by a wide range of partners to remove invasive rabbits and rats from the island in order to protect native bird habitat. The project will continue under its next phase, focusing on biosecurity (making sure rats are not accidentally reintroduced to the island), vegetation restoration of native plants, and attracting more native birds to nest on the island. 

To learn more about this milestone in Lehua’s history, read the DLNR news release on the announcement of Lehua being free of rats, or visit DLNR’s Lehua Island: Past & Future StoryMap. The StoryMap includes a timeline of Lehua’s history, starting from prior to human contact and ending with the current outlook for Lehua’s rat-free future. The StoryMap also includes a slideshow allowing people to meet the birds that call the island home.

For users who are interested in the details of the Lehua Island Ecosystem Restoration Project and the efforts to remove rats, content from this Lehua page that was provided during the operation remains available below. This includes multiple Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents, infographics, and videos produced during the rodent removal project.

 

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

A number of FAQ projects were developed over the course of this project. Those are provided here, along with a description of the original timing/purpose of those documents.

Document Title Purpose
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Lehua Restoration Project Early 2017: A general FAQ document produced prior to the public commenting period on the draft Environmental Assessment that provides basic info about the project and answers questions regarding the earlier (2009) attempt to remove rats.
Lehua Restoration Project – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) August 2017: An updated version of the above general FAQ provided prior to the implementation of the rodent baiting action in 2017.
Community Update & FAQ August 2017: This FAQ document was designed to more specifically answer questions that had come from local community leaders and constituents on Kauaʻi in advance of the rodent baiting action.
Frequently Asked Questions (largely from the July 25th Public Meeting) August 2017: This document was created to more specifically answer questions that had arisen during public engagement in the summer of 2017.

 

Infographics

Project partners produced two infographics as part of the community engagement efforts prior to the 2017 rodent removal actions.

This infographic provides information related to the 2009 attempt to remove rats from Lehua, in particular looking at the relationship between the 2009 project and the death of fish near Niʻihau. This infographic looks at the techniques used to control rats on islands and the benefits of island-wide eradication of rats versus perpetual control actions.
This infographic provides information related to the 2009 attempt to remove rats from Lehua, in particular looking at the relationship between the 2009 project and the death of fish near Niʻihau. This infographic looks at the techniques used to control rats on islands and the benefits of island-wide eradication of rats versus perpetual control actions.

 

Videos

DLNR has produced a number of video specials about Lehua and the restoration efforts focused on the island.

 

Documents