Public beaches take teamwork to thrive

When viewing the Kamaole Beach parks in Kihei, it is easy to overlook the one unseen component that brings a natural balance to those coastal beach areas. That balance comes by Mother Nature moving sand around on that beach both in preparation and then following the storm.

Prior to a storm, the surf pattern is altered and sand is taken from the dunes, leaving a step, or scarp, and moved to the offshore tidal area which makes the wet beach area very shallow. That sand shift allows the building storm waves that follow to break farther out to sea and lowers the crushing impact of the waves on the fragile nearshore areas. After the storm passes, that same sand is washed back onto the dry beach where the trade winds blow it again onto the growing sand dunes.

This simple natural cycle is only effective if we minimize dune erosion by using beach pathways when crossing sand dunes. These pathways also help protect native dune plants. The pathways protect the sand dunes from foot traffic damage and the dune plants capture and bind the blowing sand to the dunes for future storm protection. Without these precautions, the balance of nature can be overwhelmed by foot traffic on the dunes.

Mahalo to UH Sea Grant and the South Maui Parks Department for their stewardship of the Kamaole Beach parks and for their willingness to work both with Mother Nature and local volunteers to help maintain the delicate balance.

Bob and Lis Richardson