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      At a time when the world was held in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic and unemployment throughout Hawaiʻi reached staggering levels, more than 70 unemployed and underemployed Maui and Molokai residents were given the opportunity to work on nature-based restoration projects that not only provided paychecks and job skills training – but also reinvigorated deep and meaningful connections to the ʻāina, Hawaiian culture, the power of kuleana and their own sense of purpose.

      They were employed by seven local nonprofits — Ka Honua Momona, Kipahulu ‘Ohana, Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Ke Ao Hāli‘i, Kipuka Olowalu and Na Moku ‘Aupuni O Ko‘olau Hui – who joined together with help from Maui Nui Marine Resource Council and guidance by Ekolu Lindsey to obtain Federal CARES Act funding through the County of Maui Office of Economic Developmentʻs Maui CARES program.

      Learn more about the participating nonprofits, the work that was accomplished and their important ongoing efforts in the community:

      Ka Honua Momona

      Ka Honua Momona on Molokai 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. Learn more about this nonprofit organization at: https://kahonuamomona.org/

      Kipahulu ‘Ohana

      Kipahulu ‘Ohana in East Maui 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. Learn more about this nonprofit organization: https://kipahulu.org/

      Hawaiian Islands Land Trust

      Hawaiian Islands Land Trust in Waiheʻe worked to remove invasive species along approximately 3,000 linear feet of Kalepa Stream to lower sediment loads in the nearshore waters off Waiheʻe and protect offshore corals. Learn more about this nonprofit organization: https://www.hilt.org/

      Ke Ao Hāli‘i

      Ke Ao Hāli‘i (KAH) in Hana worked on 27 acres of publicly owned land at Mokae/Kaholaiki and another ~2 acres of contiguous land, directly above Hamoa Beach. Their 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. Learn more about this nonprofit ogranization: https://savehanacoast.org/

      Kipuka Olowalu

      Kipuka Olowalu in West Maui reestablished washed out and damaged lo’i (taro fields), rebuilt vanished lo’i and prepared lo’i for planting in the Olowalu Cultural Reserve. Workers removed overgrowth, fire hazards and invasive plants; planted native plants and crops and repaired infrasturcture. Learn more about this nonprofit organization at: https://www.kipukaolowalu.com/

      Na Moku ‘Aupuni O Ko‘olau Hui

      Na Moku ‘Aupuni O Ko‘olau Hui in East Maui worked on 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. Learn more about this nonprofit organization at: https://www.facebook.com/Na-Moku-Aupuni-O-Koolau-Hui-106290134488255/

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