Maui County

$1 million grant to help
preservation of Maui wetlands

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> Maui County Mayor James "Kimo" Apana and federal officials are moving ahead to buy 313 acres of coastal dunes and wetlands on Maui's northern shore.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday the awarding of $1 million in grant money to help in the purchase of the Waihee Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Preserve.

The $1 million grant was issued under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The nonprofit Maui Coastal Land Trust, which is conducting negotiations with the landowner, Waihee Oceanfront Hawaii Inc., said another $1 million in grant money through a federal wetlands fund is likely to be approved within a month.

Apana has proposed the county contribute $2 million toward the purchase.

The County Council's Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to review Apana's proposal at 9 a.m. Oct. 15.

Maui Coastal Land Trust Executive Director Dale Bonar would not say how much the land is worth, noting the price is still being negotiated. The group hopes to complete negotiations within three weeks.

Trust officials proposed using the money to buy and manage the land for conservation.

It also plans to raise money from private sources.

Under the trust proposal, the county and state are expected to hold conservation easements on the properties.

Bonar said his group is interested in conservation, but a 28-acre shorefront area could be used as an addition to Waihee Beach Park and may provide camping opportunities.

"What we're concerned about is protecting the land and then letting the community be part of deciding the best way to manage this protected property," Bonar said.

The land, located between Waihee Beach Park and Waihee Point, serves as a dwelling place for several endangered water birds, plants and the Blackburn's sphinx moth.

The area, the former site of Waihee Dairy, was once proposed for development as a golf course, but plans were abandoned because of restrictions placed on the land use and an economic downturn.

It is currently owned by Waihee Oceanfront Hawaii Inc.

Bonar said the Waihee dunes surround the last significant unprotected wetlands on Maui.

He said the site, covering about a mile and a half of shoreline, is also culturally and archaeologically significant, with heiaus, fishpond structures, house sites and hundreds of burial sites.

The group said it eventually wants to develop a "community-based plan" for site restoration and stewardship.

County of Maui

E-mail to City Desk


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