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Resort property owners draft proposal to shore up crumbling coastline in West Maui

By A’ali’i Dukelow

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    MAUI, Hawaii (KITV) — Amid ongoing efforts to address erosion on the Valley Isle, resort property owners are scrambling to restore a deteriorating coastline on the island’s west side.

In 2016, the shoreline at Honokowai Beach retreated six to 12 feet over a few months due to large surf and high water levels, dramatically changing the shore’s appearance.

The group West Maui Resort Partners outlined three proposals in its Environmental Impact Statement Notice, the first being what is referred to as “nourishment, ” or adding sand to the shore.

“This is a section of coastline that has been a big problem over the years,” University of Hawai’i erosion expert Chip Fletcher said, pointing out that nourishment only buys a short period of time.

“A second approach is to simply leave everything as is and do small scale mitigation where erosion is starting to undermine portions of the coast that may be valuable, where people live.”

The third suggestion involves nourishment as well as installing groins.

“(Groins are) walls that stick out into the ocean, perpendicular into the shoreline and trap in between them sand that you put there,” Fletcher explained.

West Maui resident Kai Nishiki argued overall, the community “feels like that’s really an invasive approach and they would like to work with decisionmakers on looking at proposals that are much more natural.”

Nishiki asserted the effort should focus on managed retreat, or long-term planning to push back critical infrastructure and buildings. Nishiki is encouraging fellow community members to add their input.

“Come to these meetings and reach out to the decisionmakers in county and state governments and demand that they make policies that are more inclusive of what our community wants,” Nishiki added.

A public meeting on the project is set for January 17 at the Lahaina Civic Center social hall.

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