KAHANA (HawaiiNewsNow) – Heavy equipment pushed sand from one end of the beach to the other in front of the village of Kahana in West Maui Monday morning.
The work involves restoring a dune that is deteriorating due to erosion and endangering the beach and the surrounding buildings.
“There is an ongoing erosion challenge in the Kahana area and really along many shorelines in West Maui in general,” said Tara Owens, coastal geologist from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant.
It’s a battle that business owners and locals have been waging for years.
Ten years ago, the same company was hired to dig up and remove approximately 25 large sandbags which acted as temporary and emergency shoreline reinforcement. Dune restoration was also carried out at the time. However, over the years the native naupaka plant has destroyed the dune.
So the company was hired again to remove the naupaka, reform the dune, and plant other native plants like pohuehue and akiaki.
It’s an approach that has worked in other areas around Maui.
“We have some really good examples around the island and they’ve kind of become a model for our state,” Owens said.
However, Owens said it was still a temporary fix and residents wanted long-term solutions.
“It’s like putting a bandage on a staph infection. It’s like we have a systemic problem here with erosion,” said Kai Nishiki, a Maui community advocate. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have to pay for this while these risky investors take their money and run away.”
Owens said the long-term plan is to build T-groynes to stabilize the beach.
Residents said they wanted transparency throughout the process.
“The county, the state, whoever, if they give these permits, make sure they make it public or put out a public notice or something. So we all know that. Then we can be satisfied. If we like watching it, we can look it up if they do it the right way,” said West Maui resident Junya Nakoa.
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