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NEWS | Oct. 22, 2009

Wildlife Biology Expert to Help Navy in Hawaii

By James Johnson, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii

Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii hired a wildlife expert Oct. 5, in an effort to provide high-quality environmental services for Navy installations in Hawaii.

"I'm excited for the chance to work with projects that I am passionate about," said wildlife biologist Dr. Aaron Hebshi. "Helping to promote healthy native and migratory bird populations at Navy sites, like the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai and wetlands on Oahu, presents some unique challenges, but will yield significant rewards." 

Hebshi's highest priorities will include ensuring the Navy in Hawaii remains in compliance with various state and federal laws, such as the endangered species act and migratory birds act, and implementing an Integrated Natural Resource Management Plan (INRMP). 

All Department of Defense installations with large land holdings are required to have an INRMP, which is signed by state and federal agencies.

"When wildlife populations are not healthy, federal laws such as the endangered species act become more constraining on the Navy mission," said Hebshi.

Prior to Hebshi's arrival, NAVFAC Hawaii relied on support from NAVFAC Pacific for needed services. Having a position dedicated to unique environmental efforts will increase productivity at both organizations.

"To have this new capability is essential for our ability to ensure environmental stewardship in this program area," said Aaron Poentis, environmental business line coordinator at NAVFAC Hawaii.

"Having Aaron join our organization will enable us to develop a wildlife community, provide mentorship to our staff, foster relationships with the trustee/regulatory agencies, and allow our organization to provide sound, technical recommendations considering our leadership and mission operational demands," said Poentis. 

Hebshi received a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1997, and a Doctorate in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation from the University of Hawaii in 2008.