Public is encouraged to monitor coastal sand dunes

Sand dunes on Maui normally change seasonally but a weather event can alter their shape overnight. The vegetation on the surface of a dune is often the detail you notice first about a dune. If the surface is covered with zone-specific plants, then Mother Nature will add sand volume over time. Dune vegetation follows a pattern governed by distance from the sea resulting in zones of different native vegetation types that run parallel to the coastline. Invasive plants, weeds and even overwatered native naupaka can rob large sections of dune space that make it impossible for dunes or native dune plants to grow.

After native vegetation, the next descriptive adjective is dune form, or shape. In some areas there are prominent dune volumes yet neighboring areas may show a different dune shape. This is normal. Dunes don’t offer protection due to their unbroken wall of sand but rather by the combined volume of sand contained in their overall sand mass within a beach area.

Assessing the condition of coastal dunes is a year-round concern of UH Sea Grant. When contacting UH Sea Grant about a particular coastal area concern, an ideal way to describe a dune is by including its specific location, its shape, its proximity to the sea and its ground cover. This information is like a DNA code for that specific beach and can provide the UH Specialist vital information. The watchful eye of the public is helpful and always appreciated, it shows we care.

Bob and Lis Richardson



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