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Maalaea wildfires, erosion to be discussed

The Maui News

Michael Reyes, senior ecologist at Maui Environmental Consulting, will be speaking Wednesday on plans to mitigate wildfires in Maalaea and to resolve problems that currently contribute to erosion.

The free presentation, sponsored by Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, begins at 5:30 p.m. at The Sphere at Maui Ocean Center.

Reyes, who serves as an associate director for the Central Maui Soil and Water Conservation District and acts as the watershed coordinator for the Southwest Maui Watershed Plan, will discuss how wildfires and sediment are two of the biggest threats to ocean water quality in Maalaea Bay.

Wildfires burn away the plant cover on upslope lands, creating prime conditions for soil erosion. Erosion results in sediment in the ocean, which harms coral reefs and hinders corals’ ability to feed, grow and reproduce.

Working with Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, Maui Environmental Consulting developed the Pohakea Stormwater Management Plan. This project involved canvassing the Pohakea watershed for current landscape conditions affecting water quality within Maalaea Bay.

While this study focused on erosion and sediment transport caused by surface water flow during stormwater events, any on-site observations of nutrient, pathogen or other pollutant sources, as well as any other land management practices that may be contributing to water quality degradation in Maalaea Bay or Maalaea Harbor were recorded. Implementation projects were then designed to address these sources of pollution.

Reyes will be sharing the findings and the action steps outlined in the “Vision for Pohakea” plan that Maui Environmental Consulting created for Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. The council is in the process of taking the first steps to implement that plan, according to a news release.

The presentation also will include updates on Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s pilot project to use caged oysters to help improve ocean water quality in Maalaea Small Boat Harbor. Amy Hodges, the council’s programs manager, will speak about this project and show visuals of the oysters that are being raised.

Admission is free, but seating is limited. Advanced reservations are suggested and can be submitted online at bit.ly/wildfireandsediment.

For more information, go to www.mauireefs.org.