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Native plantings on coastal sand dunes aided by field agent

The first step for dune restoration work on a public coastal dune or beach area is an assessment by a UH Sea Grant geologist. After determining landownership or kuleana, the agent can sequence the steps necessary for the restoration effort to be most effective. For example, if the area has invasive weeds it is rarely sufficient to simply remove them. Native plants need to be reintroduced, but where to plant is as important as what to plant.

The site analysis will include a study of wind patterns, current dune flora and fauna, and dune condition. Perhaps it will be determined that the back dune areas need to be planted first in order to deter future sand blowouts to a particular site. Including the UH Sea Grant specialist to a project reduces unintended consequences.

The best way to introduce native plants to a dune area is often to have Mother Nature do the planting. This can mean protecting existing native plants in the area and encouraging them to grow toward your target area. Once established, the growth will be much heartier and less dependent on human intervention for survival.

By providing appropriate dune pathways around the target area, plants are protected and foot traffic is channeled off of the site. Posted signage can also help the public understand the intent of the project. These are steps that UH Sea Grant deals with routinely.

The long-term results can be remarkable with help from a UH Sea Grant field agent.

Bob and Lis Richardson

Kihei