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City begins Sunset Beach dune restoration project

  • Video: Nina Wu

    City crews this morning began clearing the remaining asphalt from the bike path that was damaged during last winter's erosion at Sunset Beach Park. The asphalt was cleared in preparation for a sand dune restoration project to begin on Monday.

  • COURTESY City Dept. of Parks and Recreation

    City crews this morning began clearing the remaining asphalt from the bike path that was damaged during last winter’s erosion at Sunset Beach Park. The asphalt was cleared in preparation for a sand dune restoration project to begin on Monday.

  • COURTESY HONOLULU OCEAN SAFETY AND LIFEGUARD SERVICES DIVISION

    Extreme erosion created a hazardous condition at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu, as seen in Dec. 2017.

City officials this morning announced a six-part plan to restore the dune at Sunset Beach on Oahu’s North Shore following last winter’s episode of severe erosion.

Crews began the removal of what’s left of the bicycle path damaged by erosion. On Monday, crews will begin a roughly week-long project pushing sand already at the beach to rebuild the dune that once existed there.

After that, the North Shore Community Land Trust will invite volunteers to help put in native, coastal plants. The city will then establish designated, beach access pathways to mitigate foot erosion, reinforced with fencing and signs.

Nine months ago, the city held another press conference about the severely eroding cliffside and shoreline at Sunset Beach Park and warned the public to stay away due to safety concerns. Authorities called the erosion there “unprecedented,” and it was so severe it crumbled a bike path, required the relocation of a lifeguard tower and removal of an Ocean Safety storage shed.

“Over the last nine months a tremendous amount of planning, thought, outreach and community effort has gone into creating this plan,” said Jim Howe, director of the Emergency Service Department. “And this plan, we hope, is going to have an impact at Sunset Beach to mitigate some of the impacts of what is happening so we can save Sunset Beach.”

“What we cannot control and what we will not be able to manage is the surf,” he said. “The surf will do what the surf is going to do, so even with this effort, if the surf decides to take it, the surf will take the sand away as it has in years past. The difference of what we’re doing today is we’re not just going to simply move sand. We’re going to now engage in a process of actually trying to hold that sand through dune restoration.”

It is a short-term solution for the popular North Shore beach, but one that the city hopes can serve as a model for other eroding coastlines on Oahu.

The project is a collaborative effort between the city and several groups, including the North Shore Community Land Trust, the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, World Surf League, North Shore Outdoor Circle, community members from the North Shore and the state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.

“We hope this collaborative effort helps to give the community a sense of ownership in helping to combat the effects of climate change and sea level rise,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell in a news release. “Projects like these demonstrate the kind of dedication that is needed on multiple levels to help address our increasingly changing environment.”

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