Hawaii & Alaska
Ka‘anapali Beach is a hub of activity in July. Lahaina residents are voicing opposition to a proposed state project to restore the beach by bringing 50,000 cubic yards of sand to shore. Opponents say the action will smother the reef and damage the ecosystem. The Maui News / MATHEW THAYER photo

HI - Residents oppose state plan for Kaanapali beach restoration work

Some say that ‘this is our Maunakea for the west side’

Residents from Lahaina recently issued a warning to the state that they will do everything possible to stop a controversial beach restoration project from moving forward at Ka’anapali Beach.

“This is our Maunakea for the west side,” said Kekai Keahi. “We are committed. Don’t take us lightly on this.”

“I going jump in front that tractor, I going lie down, I going do whatever and I going make sure this thing doesn’t happen just for the tourism dollar,”said Leonard Nakoa. “Nuff already.”

Keahi, Nakoa and other opponents to the state project, called the Ka’anapali Beach Restoration and Berm Enhancement, are alleging the plan to bring to shore 50,000 cubic yards of sand will smother existing reef and permanently damage delicate ecosystems.

Furthermore, the plan can’t prove efficacy, didn’t conduct sufficient community outreach and prioritizes hotel interests, they testified during a state Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting on the topic Oct. 22.

Still, the board voted to accept the project’s final environmental impact statement. Members said opponents have other opportunities to voice their concerns over the project if the study is accepted by Gov. David Ige.

If the project gains approvals, the beach will nearly double in width — from 41 to 78 feet, according to the final environmental impact statement. Sand will be moved to an approximately 1-mile section from an 8.5-acre sand field located about 150-800 feet seaward of Ka’anapali Beach.

The project is considered a short-to-midterm effort to mitigate the impacts of rising water levels and coastal erosion, which are increasing with global sea level rise, according to a state Department of Land and Natural Resources press release Oct. 23 on the plan.

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