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Funds to help nonprofit restore West Maui forest

Hawaiian Electric has donated $31,000 to Malama Kahalawai to restore a portion of Olowalu with native plants and trees. — Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Electric

Malama Kahalawai has received a $31,000 donation from Hawaiian Electric to restore an Olowalu stream corridor with native Hawaiian plants and trees.

The project, funded through Hawaiian Electric Industries Charitable Foundation, involves the seeding, propagating, planting and monitoring of hardy and resilient species native to 14 acres of the mauna Kahalawai area or the West Maui Mountains.

In one year, the restoration project aims to plant 1,000 native trees and shrubs and create a propagation system, according to a news release from Hawaiian Electric.

“Our native forests are under great stress from the impacts of invasive species, climate change, drought and fire,” said Chris Brosius, program manager for Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership. “Improvements to this Olowalu stream corridor creates a healthier watershed, a more fire resilient community and a thriving native ecosystem from mauka to makai.”

Malama Kahalawai supports the Mauna Kahalawai Watershed Partnership, an alliance of landowners, land managers and agencies who work to protect a watershed area spanning 47,319 acres in the West Maui Mountains. The groups fenced more than 33,000 acres, removed 2,500 feral animals such as pigs and deer, battled invasive weeds, maintained and improved miles of fire breaks and have begun to plant and restore portions of the watershed.

“We appreciate Malama Kahalawai and their significant work of reviving the ecological function of our valuable watersheds,” said Mahina Martin, director of government and community affairs for Hawaiian Electric. “Their contributions toward restoration of the aina strongly resonates with our continued efforts to build resilient and sustainable island communities.”

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