homepage logo

Foundation exploring options to improve Napili Bay and Beach

By Staff | Feb 27, 2020

Artificial structures, such as a reef ball (above), could help support coral colonization and strengthen the reef — so it is more effective protecting the beach from erosion — at Napili Bay.

NAPILI – Determined, the Napili Bay and Beach Foundation (NBBF) is facing 2020 resolute in its multi-tentacled approach to advance its mission “to protect and improve the Napili beach and bay.”

Since its formation in 2006, the nonprofit has gathered a strong corps of conservationists, local residents, concerned visitors, condo owners and scientists to shepherd the beloved bay along the northwest shore of West Maui into the 21st century and beyond

It’s a study in the power of positive collaboration.

On the last Friday of January, a Napili Bay community meeting was called to strategize progress on the proposed Napili Beach Restoration Project.

The Napili Kai Beach Resort hosted the meeting; it’s ever-dynamic president, Pat Lindquist, led the proceedings.

Residents and visitors can contribute to the Napili Beach project through this machine in the lobby at Napili Shores.

Lindquist summarized the cautiously optimistic takeaways from the gathering: “Our beach sand is sitting in the bay and can be brought back to the beach; the state supports beach restoration and has spent time/effort/money to streamline (the) permit process; (and the) beach can be restored in 2021.”

However, Lindquist added some powerful “ifs” to the equation: “IF we raise the funds to do the rest of the studies needed to support permits,” she said; and “IF county approves/implements Community Facilities Districts as a way of paying for beach restoration projects.”

Coastal Engineer Ian Horswill is the president of Rising Tide Engineering. His company conducted three studies in 2019 to support obtaining permits to restore the beach.

Two high-resolution cameras were mounted at Napili Kai and at Napili Shores for 24/7 monitoring of wave action and its impact on the beach shape.

“He also introduced,” Lindquist advised, “the community to the possibility of using an artificial structure, like a reef ball, that can support coral colonization and, if placed carefully, could ‘beef up the reef’ (basalt shelf plus corals/other marine life) so it is more effective protecting the beach from erosion.”

“Our proposal,” Horswill described, “is to restore the beautiful Napili Beach using beach nourishment. This will also improve the beach ecosystem that provides recreation, breeding spots for the turtles, sea birds and crabs, filters harmful runoff, provides buffer against the storms and high seas.

“We realize from our recent benthic habitat study,” Horswill observed, “that the coral reef in parts of the bay is unhealthy and disappearing, so it needs restoration to help grow it back to the vibrant coral it once was.

“Coral reefs help to protect the shorelines. Because of the structure of corals, they form a buffer along coastlines to protect from waves and storms, preventing loss of life, property damage and erosion. Restoring coral reef in Napili Bay would help the beach nourishment project slow the erosion of the existing beach.”

Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist Tara Owens of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program is the Science and Technical Advisor to the county Planning Department.

Attending the meeting last month, she has been a long-standing partner of the foundation and a champion, in general, of our coastlines.

“The Small-Scale Beach Restoration Program (SSBR) is a very good fit for a proposed beach restoration project at Napili. Said another way, the Napili project is the very type of project the SSBR program is designed to support.”

“Coastal managers at the state and county are supportive of well-planned beach restoration projects, when desirable and feasible,” Owens explained.

“The DLNR Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands facilitates, and is currently updating, the SSBR program to encourage and streamline small-scale beach restoration projects. DLNR, Maui County and University of Hawaii Sea Grant are working collaboratively with the NBBF on project design, environmental studies and monitoring in advance of the permit process.”

It’s not an inexpensive fix.

“Funding is hanging in there,” Lindquist said, “but needs more sustainable, robust efforts” to contribute to the goal of bringing matching offshore sand back to the beach to widen it by 20 feet along with the number of studies required to support the granting of permits.

According to Lindquist, it has been agreed that “the economic vitality of the Napili Beach community is tied to a healthy beach and bay,” and the NBBF is calling upon all partners to join them in their efforts to bank the SBBR, including, but certainly not limited to, the potential formation of a Community Facilities District, a “Beef up the Reef” fundraiser, “Dip Jars,” and grants from public agencies as well as from private entities.

“Folks need to know,” Lindquist stressed, “Napili Bay and Beach Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We need donations to fund our necessary studies in 2020 and 2021, and those donations are ‘tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.’

“Donations can be easily made on our website (https//napilibayfoundation.org), or our Facebook page (“https://facebook.com/napilibayfoundation/”>facebook.com/napilibayfoundation/), or by mailing a check to us at P.O. Box 10823, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761.”

Owens is a strong advocate of the NBBF, saying it “is a good example of a community organization that is working proactively with subject matter experts and government agencies to identify solutions to a variety of challenges facing our coastal areas.”