Pouhala Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

Pouhala Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary

An image of Pouhala Marsh


Pouhala Marsh is a 70-acre tidal wetland located in Waipahu on the southwestern coastline of the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) identified Pouhala Marsh as a “wetland of critical concern” for protection and habitat enhancement. The marsh is owned by the State of Hawai‘i (State) and the City and County of Honolulu (City). The State parcel consists of 24 acres and the City parcel contains 86.5 acres. The State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) manages the area as a wildlife sanctuary through a land lease agreement with the City (USFWS 1995).

Pouhala Marsh is the largest remaining wetland habitat in the Pearl Harbor complex and was historically considered as a potential landfill site because of the site location across from a City Waste Convenience Station. In the past, the marsh may have been flushed with freshwater during high flows from Waikele Stream into Kapakahi Stream. About an 8-acre area was disturbed by the importation of fill material when the site was being prepared for use as a landfill. This disturbed area currently remains dry under most conditions and is the area targeted for restoration of waterbird habitat ponds.

Development, water pollution, and invasive plants, such as mangrove and pickleweed, have degraded Pouhala Marsh. Currently, efforts are being made to restore the original wetlands through invasive plant removal, refuse removal, native outplantings, fencing to prevent predation, trespassing, and illegal dumping. Wetland restoration would provide a naturally functioning ecosystem with suitable habitat for four endangered Hawaiian waterbirds. Restoration of the site and adjacent Kapakahi Stream would allow for environmental education programs, such as vegetation identification, avian surveys, and water quality studies.

Source: Pacific Biosciences Research Center



Permits & Rules

  • This sanctuary is CLOSED, per administrative rules Chapter 126 (Wildlife Sanctuaries).
  • Commercial activities are prohibited.
  • Other activities (like scientific research, conservation management, or subsistence, traditional, and customary practices by Native Hawaiians consistent with the long-term preservation of the wildlife sanctuary resources) may be possible with a permit. Individuals interested in permits should review the detailed information on our Permits & Guidelines page and contact their local DOFAW office.

Plans and Projects

June 17, 2022: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health and the Department of Land and Natural Resources are seeking public comments on a draft restoration plan addendum and supplemental environmental assessment that will shift funds to the Pouhala Marsh Enhancement Project. Additional details on the plan and opportunities to comment can be found in this USFWS news release and at this website.

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Some Native Plants & Animals

These are examples of native species associated with this site. This is not intended to be a comprehensive species inventory.

image of aeo


(Himantopus mexicanus knudsneni)

image of hawaiian coot

ʻAlae keʻokeʻo

(Fulica alai)

image of alae ula

ʻAlae ʻula

(Gallinula galeata sandvicensis)

image of aukuu


(Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli)

koloa maoli

Koloa Maoli

(Anas wyvilliana)

image of koloa moha

Koloa Mohā

(Spatula clypeata)

image of koloa mapu

Koloa Māpu

(Anas acuta)

image of bird


(Arenaria interpres)