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Draft survey for Mokuhinia Ecosystem Restoration Project available online

By Staff | Dec 28, 2017

The Mokuhinia Ecosystem Restoration Project would involve restoration of wetlands associated with Loko o Mokuhinia, one facet of a larger effort by the county and Friends of Moku‘ula to preserve and restore the overall site (located at the center of this file photo) along Front Street across from Kamehameha Iki Park.

LAHAINA – Weather conditions last week Wednesday forced the cancellation of a community meeting to review a Draft Archaeological Inventory Survey (AIS) Report for the Mokuhinia Ecosystem Restoration Project in Lahaina.

Recently completed by Cultural Surveys Hawaii, the 705-page draft survey was submitted to the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) on Dec. 11.

While the meeting is being rescheduled, the public can review an electronic copy of the Draft AIS report online via www.dropbox.com/s/x3uiaqtxp4rmw2x/WAINEE6_AISRDRAFT_1_single%20sided.pdf?dl=0.

The county will send out a press release when the public meeting is rescheduled. For more information, contact Wendy Taomoto at 270-7669.

The County of Maui, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is conducting a feasibility study for the Mokuhinia Ecosystem Restoration Project that would involve restoration of wetlands associated with Loko o Mokuhinia, one component of a larger effort by the county and Friends of Moku’ula (FOM) to preserve and restore the overall site.

Once an approximate 17-acre wetland, Loko o Mokuhinia was filled in the early 20th century as a vector control effort with regard to mosquito control and later developed into Malu-ulu-o-lele Park.

According to the project description in the report, given the extent of development that now surrounds the park, the project can be more accurately described as a partial restoration of the wetland that would be accomplished by excavating fill material to intercept the groundwater in the area where Loko o Mokuhinia was historically located.

The project would also include the restoration of surface flow from Loko o Mokuhinia to the ocean through an existing drainage ditch. The restored wetland would create aquatic habitat for native and endangered water birds and would contribute to the subsequent restoration of cultural and historical resources that may include the restoration of the inland island of Moku’ula, the site that was home to the high chiefs of Pi’ilani since the 16th century and a royal residence for the Kamehameha line in the 19th century.

As a part of SHPD review of the draft feasibility study under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the reviewing archaeologist expressed concerns regarding the placement of the proposed ten-meter protective buffer between the edge of the island as known from historic maps and the proposed wetland restoration efforts, as the edge of the island had not been positively identified during previous studies in 1995, 1999 and 2012, the report states.

SHPD also expressed concerns regarding the lack of additional survey work, beyond the studies conducted by the Bishop Museum and University of Hawaii Maui College, to determine the presence or absence of additional historic properties within the proposed project area.

As a result, SHPD requested additional information for the Section 106 identification phase in the form of additional inventory survey work in order to adequately review potential effects and recommended that the level of effort be outlined in an archaeological inventory survey plan.

The lands to be directly impacted by ground-altering activity for the proposed project consists of the proposed Mokuhinia restoration area comprised of approximately 6.5 acres.