An adult Newell’s shearwater. Photo courtesy of Brenda Zaun/FWS

County officials announced this week that Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the County of Kaua‘i to allow the county to use stadium lights at night during the 2018 football season.

“It has always been my goal to establish an agreement with the federal government that would allow us to bring back our longstanding tradition of Friday Night Lights on Kaua‘i, in a manner that is safe and responsible during the endangered seabird fledgling season,” Carvalho said in a news release. “While we continue to work on a long-term agreement, this MOU serves as an interim measure that allows us to use stadium lights on evenings with minimized risk to endangered seabirds.”

As noted in the MOU, stadium lights will be allowed at night on Sept. 21 and Sept. 28, 2018. The endangered seabird fledgling season runs every year from Sept. 15 through Dec. 15.

“We are happy to have found an interim solution that supports seabird conservation as well as the needs of the community,” said Mary Abrams, field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “The work of conservation is a team effort, and Mayor Carvalho and County of Kaua‘i have been great partners.”

The County will continue to participate in the development of a long-term agreement — called the Kaua‘i Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan — on the use of stadium facilities beyond this year’s football season. This plan, which purpose is to conserve seabird species under the Endangered Species Act, is currently in development by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources – Division of Forestry and Wildlife.

“While our ultimate goal is to finish the KSHCP for future football seasons, we are grateful to all of our federal, state, county and community partners for working diligently throughout the past several years to bring us to this point now,” Carvalho said. “This year’s opportunity for night football is a testament to the hard work we’ve accomplished together, including the retrofitting of ballpark lights at Vidinha and Hanapēpē stadiums, and conducting training and educational outreach campaigns to perpetuate the importance of protecting our endangered seabirds. We look forward to the Waimea Homecoming game this Friday night, Sept. 21, at the Hanapepe Stadium.”