According to Tova Callender, West Maui has some of the most severely impacted coral reefs in the state.
In West Side coastal waters, nearly one-fourth of all living corals have been lost in the last 13 years.
Without dramatic steps to restore favorable conditions, reefs statewide risk rapid degradation, noted Callender, West Maui Watershed and Coastal Management coordinator.
Lucky for us, state and federal agencies are working to better protect area reefs through the West Maui Ridge to Reef (WMR2R) Initiative.
The project will be officially launched on Dec. 4 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Lahaina Civic Center. The community is invited to attend.
At the meeting, the background and next steps for the initiative will be shared, along with updates on watershed management planning efforts in Wahikuli and Honokowai.
Maps of Kahana, Honokahua and Honolua will be used to collect community input about key resources and threats to coral reefs from land-based pollution in these watersheds.
Causes of coral reef decline are complex and not yet fully understood, but land-based pollution is known to be a serious threat.
Increased sedimentation tied to loss of forest land, historical agriculture practices, stream channelization and rapid development have clearly impacted coral reef health.
Led by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District, WMR2R will engage agencies and organizations in the implementation of a strategy to reduce the threats of land-based pollution to coral reefs in West Maui.
As an initial step, federal agencies and organizations are funding technical studies and public education efforts.
DLNR and other agencies will implement priority "on-the-ground" actions as they are identified, while the DLNR- and Corps-funded watershed plan is developing the comprehensive strategy.
Ocean users can contribute to this important effort by identifying problems here in West Maui.
For more information, contact Callender at tovacallender@ gmail.com or (808) 214-4239.