- The refuge was established to protect the endangered Koloa (Hawaiian duck), Hawaiian gallinule, Hawaiian coot and the Hawaiian stilt. It also provides habitat for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. The site incorporates 917 acres of river bottom land, taro farms and wooded slopes in the Hanalei River Valley on the northern coast of Kauai.
The site is closed to public use but overlooks from Highway 56 provide opportunity for wildlife observation and photography. Fishing is permitted from the banks of the Hanalei River.
The refuge is visible from an overlook one mile east of Hanalei or six and a half miles west of Kilauea on Highway 56. Visitors can also observe wildlife from their vehicles along Ohiki Road, which begins at the west end of Hanalei River Bridge.
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