Hawaii & Alaska
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HI - Land board blocks effort to move sand from ancient West Oahu beach to Waikiki

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Board of Land and Natural Resources is blocking an effort to use sand from an ancient Leeward Oahu beach to replenish the Waikiki shoreline.

The board took a stand against moving sand around the island — even though the sand for the rejected project was coming from a beach formed long before humans reached Hawaii.

The ancient beach was unearthed in the Pacific Aggregate quarry in Maili, about 35 feet below the surface, where the quarry was mining deep into an ancient sea floor of white coral.

The vein of beach sand appears in layered patterns underneath the old coral.

It’s still possible to break up the sand layers with a bare hand.

The quarry is about a mile from the current shoreline. Charles “Chip” Fletcher, dean of the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Sciences, said that area would be about where the shoreline was during the last era of high global temperatures.

“125,000 years ago, sea level was higher than it is today, and a reef formed and that reef is what’s being quarried at this location,” Fletcher said.

“And, like any reef, there would be sand deposits associated with that.”

The quarry mined the sand and it was available for mixing with concrete or other construction, but it was claimed by consultants for the Hilton Hawaiian Village for a project to raise the level of the man-made beach fronting the property.

Dave Smith, senior coastal Engineer with Sea Engineering, Inc., representing Hilton, requested approval for the project from the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources on Oct. 13.

“Trying to be proactive and stay ahead of sea level rise,” Smith said.

Smith explained that the sand was not from a public beach and added an analysis found the sand from Maili is pretty much the same as Waikiki.

“The grain size of distribution matches the sand that’s there on the beach now,” Smith said.

But board member Kaiwi Yoon said sand from different ahapuaa can’t be the same.

“The sands over there were different — culturally different than Waikiki, which means springing water and you had different biota and species in the swamp land,” Yoon said, adding he didn’t believe the Waianae community would approve of taking sand from the west side to Waikiki.

Longtime shoreline advocate Keone Downing has studied sand in Waikiki for years and said sands from different regions won’t mix.

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