Maui News

Save the Wetlands Hui receives $5,000 from Hilton Grand Vacations

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Volunteer Workday September 2021 – Community stakeholders and volunteers identify native plants and remove aggressive invasive plant species around them, putting the unwanted plant debris in mounds, creating “shields from the wind” to encourage their growth found in the sacred Hawaiian Mauka Wetlands of Laʻie in South Maui.

Save the Wetlands Hui has received a $5,000 gift from Hilton Grand Vacations that will enable the environmental nonprofit to continue its conservation and education work in South Maui. 

The donation was formally presented on World Wetlands Day, Feb. 2, 2022 – officially designated by the United Nations in recognition of the immense value of these ecosystems to environments and economies around the globe. According to the Secretariat of the Convention of Wetlands, nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s, and are being lost at a rate three times faster than that of forests.

According to Save the Wetlands Hui, the Kīhei area was once characterized by expansive wetlands, which have been greatly reduced and fragmented over time – resulting in ecological and cultural losses. The mission of the Hui is to conserve, protect and restore Maui’s remaining wetlands, and to educate the public about the critically important role that wetlands play in the island’s ecosystem. The nonprofit is currently focusing its efforts in Kīhei, in an area known as the Keokea-Waiohuli corridor of Kula Kai.

“Wetlands provide the valuable natural infrastructure that is an integral part of our watershed, but the greatest value to me is the open space where we can come together as a community to learn about our ahupuaʻa and the journey of the water from mauka to makai,” said Robin Knox, project manager for the nonprofit’s South Maui initiative. “Hilton Grand Vacations’ generous donation allows us to continue our restoration, education, and outreach work. We greatly appreciate their interest and support.”

In addition to its donation, HGV is looking to provide longer-term volunteer support for Save the Wetlands Hui’s efforts, in keeping with the company’s broader commitment to environmental sustainability. HGV recently celebrated a soft opening of its Maui Bay Villas by Hilton Grand Vacation, a brand-new all-suite luxury property in Kīhei and its first location on the Valley Isle.

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“We are committed to sharing the spirit of aloha with our owners, guests, community, and environment,” said Maui Bay Villas General Manager Will Bethel. “We were very impressed by Save the Wetland Hui’s knowledge and passion for protecting Maui’s environment, and are excited about the potential opportunities for our team members, owners, and guests to get involved in helping to care for these important wetlands, some of which are right in our neighborhood.”

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“Wetlands are valuable to our community because they provide us with many ecosystem services including drainage and flood retention; keeping pollutants such as sediment and nutrients out of the ocean; providing a place and resources for cultural practices, native plants and habitat for native insects, birds, and aquatic life; reducing streambank and shoreline erosion, and increasing climate adaptation resiliency and mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon,” Knox said.

To help conserve and restore the remaining wetlands in the region, Save the Wetlands Hui organizes community-based workdays and welcomes volunteers to join them in removing trash and planting native species to help restore balance to the environment. Restoration activities are guided by botanical, environmental, and cultural experts.

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