Hawaii & Alaska
Kevin Dayton / Honolulu Civil Beat

HI - State Land Board to Decide on Dredging of New Beach at Pohoiki

The state seeks a waiver to dredge a channel through black sand deposited by the 2018 Kilauea eruption.

When Hawaii County Civil Defense reopened portions of the isolated Puna coastline after the 2018 Kilauea eruption, the public discovered a strikingly beautiful new black sand beach had appeared from the sea, and sand and rock had inundated what was once a heavily used boat ramp at Pohoiki.

Now the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is moving forward with a plan to dredge a channel down the middle of that new beach to restore access to the boat ramp, a project urgently needed by the owners of the fishing boats that used to launch there.

Former Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim and others contend the new beach should be preserved and a new boat ramp should be built elsewhere, but that could take five to 10 years.

After hearing of the “dire need” of fishermen and the community to again get ocean access at Pohoiki, the DLNR is set to ask the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Jan. 8 to waive any requirement for an environmental assessment to clear the way for dredging a channel through the new beach.

But exempting the project from the requirement may turn out to be legally controversial. In fact, environmental lawyer David Kimo Frankel contends there is “no way” the dredging can be legally done without an environmental assessment.

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