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Community helps restore eroded Makaha Beach sand

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    Jackson Kyne, left, and Ha'a Keaulana are happy with the new look at Makaha Beach. Community members and private companies replenished the eroding beach, moving 1,800 cubic yards of sand from another part of the shoreline.

Community volunteers used heavy equipment yesterday to restore sand at eroded areas of Makaha Beach.

PVT Land Co., Henry’s Equipment, Pueo Trucking and Kalaeloa Raceway Park were among the companies providing volunteers and heavy equipment to restore the natural beach slope.

Waterman Richard "Buffalo" Keaulana, who oversaw the volunteers, said, "My first intention of this beach is safety."

Bulldozer operators pushed at least 1,000 cubic yards of sand across the beach toward the mauka end. The city previously conducted erosion control at Makaha Beach. City officials could not be reached for comment on why efforts were suspended five years ago.

There was a sharp dip between the mauka end of the beach and the roadway, a hazard for beachgoers and vehicles, before volunteers restored sand within two hours yesterday morning.

Residents appreciated the work. "They should be concerned about public safety and liability," said resident and surfer Mel Puu, referring to the city.

The project comes in time for the 35th Annual Buffalo Big Board Classic at the beach from Saturday to Monday and Feb. 26-27. Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D, Nanakuli-Makua) obtained approval for the erosion control project from the state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.

Experts say erosion control needs to be done once a year. Coastal geologist Dolan Eversole of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program prepared a report in August on beach management guidelines for Makaha Beach. According to the report, "the Makaha dune system has not been adequately protected or effectively managed despite local sand abundance."

Chip Fletcher, associate dean of the University of Hawaii’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, said, "The center of Makaha Beach is fairly stable, but the north-end and the south-end beaches tend to experience chronic erosion about half a foot per year or less. That’s a long-term trend."

Beach nourishment can be an effective management tool, but it is not a permanent fix, he said.


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