(BIVN) – The conflict over the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for Mauna Kea has resulted in the cancellation of a growing birding festival on the Big Island.
The Hawai’i Island Festival of Birds has issued a notice of cancellation for its 2019 event set for October, and organizers say there will instead be alternative tour offerings. The move was made “due to the ongoing uncertainty of access into key native forest habitat” and “other mitigating factors.”
“There is a high probability that current road and forest closures on Maunakea will still be in place at the onset of the festival,” reads the cancellation message, posted to the festival website by Festival Co-Founder Rob Pacheco. “There are too many risks and unknowns at this point for us to guarantee fulfilling our overall festival obligations while providing a successful and high quality festival experience we’ve promised and advertised. This was a difficult decision and made with careful deliberation after numerous consultations with authorities and resource managers. Though conditions could change, we feel we need to make this decision now before the festival date gets too close so you can plan accordingly.”
Many festival events – the Bird Fair, booths and presentations – were held on the grounds of the Sheraton Kona at Keauhou Bay, far from Mauna Kea.
“We realize you may have already made flight, hotel and rental car reservations that may be impacted by this decision,” Pacheco wrote. “Even though there will be no “festival,” we hope you’ll still choose to visit and bird our island home, if so, we have some options for you. Also, if you’ve reserved room nights at the Sheraton Kona at Keauhou Bay, the resort will still honor special festival room rates.”
“If you choose to cancel completely, you will receive a full refund from the hotel and the festival. We deeply regret the inconvenience the Festival cancellation may cause. Please choose to join us on any one or all three of the alternative tours and allow us to create a memorable experience for you,” Pacheco finished.
The following alternative tour offerings are scheduled:
Friday, October 25; Native Forest Birdwatching Tour: We will access native forest habitat(s) with the best possibility of seeing the most species that are open at the time. Full day tour with continental breakfast and lunch, designated pickup locations departing Keauhou at 6am, returning at 5pm. $200 plus tax.
Saturday, October 26; Natural History Huaka’i: Volcanoes, Waterfalls & Birds: This full day trip includes short stops along the Hawaii Island Birding Trail, scenic waterfalls, and the famed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where participants may see an assortment of native and introduced birds along the way. Includes breakfast and lunch. Designated pickup locations departing Sheraton Kona Resort at 7am, returning at 6:30pm. $200 plus tax.
Sunday, October 27; Kona Coast Pelagic Full Day: Birding by boat! Depart from Honokohau Harbor and join experienced birding guides who will help you spot and identify birds and sea life while enjoying views of the Kona coastline. Minimum 18 participants for tour to run. $175.00 plus tax.