Maui Nui Marine Resource Council Helps Provide Jobs to 70 Maui and Moloka’i Residents Through Maui CARES Funding

MAUI, HI – A unique collaboration of seven Maui and Moloka’i nonprofits working in partnership with Maui Nui Marine Resource Council and the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development provided employment and workforce training for more than 70 unemployed or underemployed residents in November.

The program was made possible through the Maui CARES program, funded by the Federal CARES Act.

The workers participated in conservation and restoration projects in Olowalu, Waihe’e, Keanae, Kipahulu, Hana and Moloka’i. All of the projects were rooted in Hawaiian cultural practices and values which serve as the foundation of our community. Their efforts helped to protect nearshore coral reefs and important Hawaiian cultural sites.

A Zoom presentation about the projects, including sneak previews of video recorded for a film about the unique collaboration, will be offered on Wednesday, January 27 at 5:30 pm. The presentation is free. Reservations are required.

“Mahalo to Mayor Victorino and his staff at the County of Maui Office of Economic Development for directing federal CARES Act funding to this hui of seven nonprofit groups to do this very worthwhile, important work,” said Ekolu Lindsey, President of Maui Cultural Lands. “Covid’s economic devastation has been real for many on Maui and Moloka’i. This program provided the real benefit of wages at a time when families desperately needed income. It also offered the added benefits of skills development, cultural connection and the satisfaction of protecting coral reefs.”

As the fiscal sponsor, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council oversaw the administration of the Maui CARES funding for the projects and managed the rapid employment of nearly 70 Maui residents.

“Maui Nui Marine Resource Council was grateful for the opportunity to help provide employment, health insurance and career development to prepare Maui County residents for future opportunities in the growing fields of environmental protection, resource management and climate change adaptation,” says Mike Fogarty, Acting Director of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “

The seven nonprofit partners each tackled labor-intensive projects that helped to improve the health of the coral reefs offshore and improve nearshore ocean water quality. “Many people are surprised to learn that protecting coral reefs doesn’t begin in the ocean; it begins upslope,” comments Fogarty. “Upslope is where the problems begin with sediment washing off the land during rainstorms, and getting transported into the sea, where it creates problems for the corals, including blocking their ability to generate food for themselves or to reproduce.”

The group of seven nonprofits worked on ways, both traditional and new, to prevent sediment pollution in the ocean. On Moloka’i, Ka Honua Momona worked to restore two ancient fishponds, which will help trap sediment before it reaches the open ocean – with the benefit of also producing fish for local people.

In East Maui, Kipahulu ‘Ohana improved a lo’i, or wetland taro farm. The taro plants will slow the flow of stormwater, allowing time for sediment in the water to settle, rather than flow out to sea. The Kipahulu ‘Ohana team also worked on a 9-acre agricultural plot including orchard, field crop and pasture production supporting free food distributions to the communities of Kipahulu, Kaupo and Kahikinui and will conducted social monitoring at an ‘opihi rest area along the shore, to help ensure a sustainable supply of ʻopihi for the future.

The organizations and their projects are:

Hawaiian Islands Land Trust: Kalepa Stream Sediment Reduction Project
This project worked to lower sediment loads in the nearshore waters off Waihe’e by removing invasive species along approximately 3,900 linear feet of Kalepa Stream.

Kipahulu ‘Ohana
Taro fields serve to reduce the volume and velocity of flowing water, which in turn, reduces the size and volume of material transported to the coastal habitats. Sediment trapped in the protective canals and pits can be recovered for agricultural use. The taro cultivated adds to food security, strengthens cultural interactions and improves public health through dietary value and exercise. This project took place in the Kipahulu Moku, and included management of traditional wetland taro farm in Haleakala National Park (restoring, clearing, planting, weeding, harvesting, mowing, weedeating), plus irrigation system maintenance, invasive species removal and biological and social monitoring of shoreline areas including an ‘opihi rest area.

Kipuka Olowalu: Olowalu Cultural Reserve
This project reestablished washed out and damaged lo’i (taro fields), rebuilt vanished lo’i and prepared lo’i for planting. Workers removed overgrowth, fire hazards and invasive plants; planted native plants and crops and repaired the poi shed, washroom and bathrooms. The goal was to assist in the restoration and rejuvenation of the mauka to makai leased lands in the Olowalu Cultural Reserve to the traditional native practitioner uses.

Ke Ao Hali‘i KAH
This project implemented the Land Management Plan created for 27 acres of land at Mokae/Kaholaiki acquired by KAH through the county’s Open Space Fund and the state Legacy Land Conservation Program, and another ~2 acres of contiguous land, directly above Hamoa Beach. The project included invasive plant removal and native habitat restoration for seabirds and insects, and a biological survey of ‘opihi as a baseline for a possible ‘opihi rest area in the future.

Na Moku ‘Aupuni O Ko‘olau Hui
The primary purpose of the project was to develop a model of what needs to be known about every localized watershed unit, and to develop community-based technology infrastructure for collecting and synthesizing that information in a way that can be adapted by the other community organizations in other parts of the County for their ongoing monitoring needs. This project included watershed management and stream maintenance, as well as stream and ditch monitoring in the East Maui Irrigation system to establish accurate data for stream and ditch flow and loss as a basis for making sound future management decisions related to this resource and delivery infrastructure.

Na Mamo o Mu‘olea – Hana Moku, Mu‘olea ahupua‘a
This project focused on land and shoreline management on a county parcel (which Nā Mamo O Mū’olea has a 50 year lease). It included removal of invasive plants around a rock wall that is on the historical registry, and preparation for wall restorations, maintenance of two heiau on the property, installation of new fencing around an area designated for native trees and medicinal plants, and maintenance and repair of feral animal controls.

Ka Honua Momona (KHM)
Fishponds serve as effective buffers between land and sea. Due to permitting issues, selection of existing fishponds for restoration is the most practical approach. KHM worked on rehabilitating and managing production on two sacred ancient Hawaiian fishponds (each ~ 30 acres) on Molokaʻi. Through this project, KHM continued its work to restore the fishponds and ancient natural and cultural resources by removing invasive plants, planting food and native plants, caring for the ‘aina and doing community outreach where safe and appropriate.

About Maui Nui Marine Resource Council
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a nonprofit working for healthy coral reefs, clean ocean water and abundant native fish. To learn more, visit


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