Lovell questioning county’s coastal erosion work

Hosea Kaina Lovell, 76, says he takes it “personally” a Kaua’i County project last month that involved moving boulders from a reef to the shoreline to shore up ‘Aliomanu Road in Anahola.

The longtime Anahola resident said sediment has polluted parts of a reef that has been used by at least five generations of Lovells going back to the 1800s. The work has changed his lifestyle and the environment, Lovell said.

Lovell said he is among a growing number of Native Hawaiians in Anahola who are concerned about the impact of the project, including what they claim is a loss of fish stock and acceleration of erosion of surrounding coastal properties.

The best solution, Lovell said, would be for the county to move the rocks by the road back onto the reef and use other rocks to protect against erosion of the road. “For me, that is the best way,” Lovell said.

Russell Sugano, chief of operations for the highway division of the Kaua’i County Public Works Department, said he is sensitive to the concerns of Hawaiians, but noted it would be prudent for the county to take action only after the state decides the next course of action.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources planning office of the DLNR division on O’ahu is expected to ask the Land Board for a decision on the work.

The DLNR has jurisdiction over work in coastal areas, often times requiring entities to obtain a Conservation District Use Application permit from the Land Board before such work is allowed.

Apparently feeling the work was routine and done to keep the road open, county officials didn’t inform the state agency before the work began.

Using heavy equipment, county workers relocated boulders that had been moved from the shoreline by high surf that had pounded the coast in November.

Officials said there is no danger of erosion of the road at this time and that the repositioning of the boulders will provide for continued use of the road by the public. The road is the only way in and out of Aliomanu.

Up until the work by the county, the rocks used to shore up the road have always sat on the reef, Lovell said.

“I have lived here long time, and there was never a wall like this,” he said.

Lovell said the rocks that were in the water provided a barrier that naturally protected the coastal areas from erosion caused by waves.

“We are going to see more erosion, you will see,” Lovell predicted, pointing out that there’s more rocks on the shoreline and fewer rocks on the reef.

The removal of the rocks also resulted in the loss of various species of limu (seaweed) which bring fish to the reef, Lovell contended. The fish include kala, nenue, manini and weke, but with less limu on the reef, fewer fish will come, thus ruining the area as a fishing resource, Lovell said.

“The fish will not come back if the rocks aren’t put back, because the rocks is where the limu is,” he said.

The area has been used by nearly five generations of family members, going back to his great-great grandfather, Daniel Lovell, who first fished the area in the 1800s. Lovell was six years old when he began fishing there with his father, the late Hosea Kaina Lovell Sr.

The area has special significance because it is there that his father taught him about netfishing, and spearfishing, a sport he has practiced and perfected, he said.

The art of throw net fishing and spearfishing has been passed on from one generation to the next.

But the loss of fish in the area due to the county work will make it difficult for him to pass on his knowledge onto future generations, Lovell said.

Since his retirement as a farm manager at the University of Hawai’i’s Experimental Station in Wailua in 1986, Lovell said he has had extra time to take his grandchildren fishing on the reef.

“This reef is like a family playground,” he said. “I don’t have any hard feelings toward Russell (Sugano) or the mayor) Bryan Baptiste,” Lovell said. “But what the county did was wrong. They changed the environment. They changed my lifestyle.”

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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