An opening ceremony for the U.S. Wildlife Service’s Betty Nagamine Bliss Memorial Overlook was held at Pearl Harbor National Wildlife Refuge (PHNWR) in West Loch, Pearl Harbor, Dec, 1.
Betty, a former teacher of McKinley High School in Honolulu, helped establish the PHNWR in the 1970s. The U.S. Navy, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, worked together to design and build a public boardwalk in her honor that includes unobstructed views of West Loch and the wildlife refuge.
“Betty was politely persistent,” said her husband, Herman Bliss, speaking on his late wife’s behalf at the ceremony. “She was determined to create a safe haven for numerous species of Hawaiian water birds during her lifetime.”
“The Key species was the Hawaiian stilt, also known as the ae'o because they nest and forage in muddy habitats,” said Meredith Speicher, a representative from the National Park Service. “The refuge also homes other birds like the Moorhen, the Coot, and the Hawaiian duck, making this refuge essential to the development of the water birds in Hawaii.”
The overlook features educational panels on Betty’s work, the various water birds of Hawaii and the circumstances surrounding the West Loch disaster of May 21, 1944, when a nearby explosion on the deck of Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 353 spread to other amphibious assault ships nearby.
Capt. Scott Cloyd, executive officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, attended the ceremony and spoke on behalf of the U.S. Navy.
“It’s an honor to be here, and to be a part of something that will have a positive impact on Hawaii’s wildlife for years to come,” said Cloyd. “Today demonstrates what has continued to be a great partnership between the Navy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. It shows what can be done to educate the public, protect wildlife, all while serving the needs and missions of the Navy.”