Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve to Receive National Reef Award
By Maui Now Staff
The Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission will receive a national award from the US Coral Reef Task Force during the organization’s 32nd Task Force Business Meeting taking place this Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Westin Maui in Kāʻanapali.
Since taking over access control of the island from the US Navy in 2003, the KIRC has successfully implemented coral reef restoration projects focused on marine debris removal, erosion control, and non-native species control, commission representatives said.
“The KIRC plays a unique role, managing an entire island ecosystem and nearly 90 square miles of ocean that was not cleared during the 10-year Navy cleanup,” said KIRC Executive Director Mike Nahoʻopiʻi in a press release announcement.
“Recognition by the US Coral Reef Task Force significantly helps us present Kahoʻolawe as a multi-generational challenge, and one worth rising to for both the State of Hawaiʻi and the next generation of leaders,” he said. “Part of the vision for Kahoʻolawe is that through careful and cooperative stewardship – using traditional Hawaiian values for resource management blended with contemporary marine science, it will become a living conduit between past and future generations of Hawaiʻi’s people, where traditional values will again take root producing ever greater resources for the future. We are incredibly honored to receive this award from the Task Force,” said Nahoʻopiʻi.
According to information compiled by the KIRC, an estimated 1.9 million tons of soil is lost annually on Kahoʻolawe due to erosion caused by years of over foraging and military bombing.
The commission reports that “severely eroded landscapes cover one-third of the island, with runoff choking the reserve’s pristine reefs and significantly impacting the ocean ecosystem.”
Despite a decade of cleanup by the Navy, KIRC representatives say unexploded ordnance continues to litter one-third of the island and all surrounding waters, leaving the areas off-limits and life threatening.
Over six months last year, 14 public focus group discussions were held on six Hawaiian islands in an effort to determine a shared vision for the future of Kahoʻolawe. Beginning in August 2014, a new round of public meetings were scheduled in order to gain community feedback on what was heard and how it can be refined. Upcoming meetings include the following:
- Thursday, Sept. 11, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lihikai Elementary School in Kahului.
- Thursday, Sept. 18, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lahaina Civic Center (old Lahaina DMV).
Both meetings will be hosted by the “Kahoʻolawe: 2026” Working Group.