Maui Nui Marine Resource Council Receives Resilient Communities Grant

With support from the Wells Fargo Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council will enhance local capacity to address resilience challenges and prepare for natural disasters

KAHULUI, HI – Oct. 2, 2019 — Maui Nui Marine Resource Council announced today that it is the recipient of a $300,000 Resilient Communities Grant, made possible by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Wells Fargo Foundation, to enhance forest reserve resiliency through fuels management in the Pohakea watershed.

With funds from this grant, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council will establish and improve fuel breaks in strategically placed corridors to mitigate the pervasive cycle of wildfire and protect 3,414 acres of Forest Reserve in Ma’alaea, part of the Pohakea watershed.

According to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, wildfires are increasing in frequency, size and severity on every Hawaiian Island and threaten property and access to several Maui communities. Protecting native habitats ensures the Hawaiian community can perpetuate its culture and way of life.

“It is extremely timely that we are announcing this grant today, as a wildfire rages near the windmills and the Lahaina Pali trail,” said Christina Lizzi, Executive Director, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “In addition to the danger they pose to people, and the road closures they cause, wildfires in this area strip vegetation off steeply-sloped land, creating prime conditions for soil erosion in heavy rain or strong winds. This ultimately leads to more sediment-laden runoff flowing into the ocean, which is harmful to coral reefs and marine wildlife.”

According to Lizzi, the Pohakea watershed drains into Ma’alaea Bay. Sediment-laden run-off from the watershed flows into the bay through ditches and culverts emptying into Ma’alaea Harbor.

“Ma’alaea Bay is home to two popular beaches, a small boat harbor, a popular surf break, coral reefs and an area where sea turtles feed,” said Lizzi. “Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is working to improve ocean water quality in this bay, through our work to prevent erosion in Pohakea watershed and also through a planned pilot project to utilize caged oysters to help remove pollutants in Ma’alaea Harbor.”

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council will engage more than 10 partner organizations plus community volunteers to create fuel breaks and establish fire-resistant plants in Pohakea watershed. The project will improve Maui’s resilience by restoring and preserving the native habitats that mitigate the negative effects of forest fires.

The grant will unlock $430,478 in matching funds, for a total conservation impact of $730,478 for Maui County.

The Maui Nui Marine Resource Council grant was among 11 Resilient Communities Program grants awarded this year, totaling $2.9 million in grants, generating an additional $5.6 million in matching contributions for nonprofit organizations and tribes across the U.S. to help communities address and mitigate the impact of natural disasters. By investing in green infrastructure and providing conservation and resilience training for community leaders, the funded projects aim to enhance the protections naturally provided by ecosystems.

“This grant is significant because it represents money that will come into Maui County, to pay local contractors to create firebreaks and help us reduce the impact of wildfires in this dry, windy area,” says Lizzi. “This grant will also help our community achieve greater resiliency in this time of drier weather and climate change.”

To date, the Resilient Communities Program has supported 27 projects in Puerto Rico and U.S. states with more than $8.9 million in program funding distributed and $29.3 million in federal and local matching funds. These projects are restoring and protecting more than 40,000 acres of land and engaging 21,500 people in conservation and capacity building. The 2019 grant winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 170 applications.

“The 11 grants announced today with Wells Fargo will work to build resilience locally and to meet future challenges through natural systems and resources while also benefitting habitats for birds, fish and other wildlife,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. “This program demonstrates how local communities can use the benefits of natural ecosystems to provide for a more resilient future.”

Stephanie Rico of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Wells Fargo said, “The devastating effects of extreme weather and longer fire seasons on local communities are impossible to ignore and tend to disproportionally impact low- and moderate-income communities. Resiliency planning is essential to the ongoing vitality of communities. By strengthening native ecosystems and building skills at the local level, we can protect where people live and work so that communities are able to thrive despite the challenges posed by a changing climate.”

About Resilient Communities
In 2017, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation created the Resilient Communities program to boost community capacity to prepare for impacts associated with coastal sea-level rise, water quantity, and quality issues and extended wildfire seasons. The program empowers communities to advance and employ natural features like urban tree canopies, wetlands, healthy upstream watersheds, resilient shorelines and forests that provide natural protections against extreme weather events. The Resilient Communities program also prioritizes inclusion and aiding historically underserved, low- and moderate-income communities.

A detailed listing of the 2019 grants made through the Resilient Communities program is available at

About Maui Nui Marine Resource Council
Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a community-based nonprofit organization celebrating 11 years of working for healthy coral reefs, clean ocean water, and abundant native fish for Maui County. Our work includes co-managing the Hui O Ka Wai Ola Ocean Water Quality Monitoring Program at 41 sites in South and West Maui, our efforts to reduce pollution in Ma’alaea Bay (through erosion-control efforts in the Pohakea watershed and using oysters to filter sediment and pollutants from ocean water), coral reef research, visitor education programs and more.

Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization). Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by U.S. law.

Learn more and support Maui Nui Marine Resource Council at



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