Plans for Guam Wildlife Habitat Project Move Forward

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has received the management plan for Tristar Terminal Guam’s project to protect valuable habitat for the Mariana common moorhen, an endangered species of marsh bird.

“EPA appreciates Tristar’s voluntary actions as good environmental stewards,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Their plan ensures that former oily waste ponds will be a vibrant habitat where the rare moorhens can thrive.”

For over 25 years, EPA has been working with Guam EPA, the Guam Oil Refining Company (GORCO), and Shell Guam, Inc. to protect this man-made habitat. The habitat was inadvertently created by GORCO in 1979 when it constructed a series of open water surface ponds to treat petroleum wastes. The Mariana common moorhen were first attracted to the open water ponds when the treatment unit was closed in 1983, and over time they began using the ponds as a home.

Tristar, as the current owner of the petroleum terminal, worked with EPA and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create the current voluntary management plan. Tristar will be maintaining the water level in the ponds and vegetation around the ponds to provide shelter and nesting material for the moorhens. They will also survey the moorhen population once every three to five years and control on-site animal predators if necessary.

The Mariana common moorhen finds refuge in a former dump site for petroleum waste.

The Mariana common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus guami), known locally as ‘pulattat,’ is one of the few endemic birds left on Guam. In 2004, it was estimated that there were approximately 90 Mariana common moorhen on Guam, 154 on Saipan, 41 on Tinian, and only two individuals on Rota. A 2007 count showed an impressive 33 moorhens at the Tristar facility alone.

About the Author

Elizabeth Freed is an Associate Content Editor for 1105 Media Inc.