Improve coral reef ecosystem

HONOLULU — Sen. Mazie K. Hirono announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded $646,886 in grant funding to restore the Kawaihae watershed in West Hawaii. Kawaihae is considered to be one of the state’s most degraded watersheds.

“Protecting and restoring our forested watersheds is critical for the health and function of Hawaii’s ecosystems,” Hirono said. “Today’s funding will help us repair damage to the Kawaihae watershed in West Hawaii caused by invasive species and wildfire and will reduce downstream impacts to our nearshore coral reefs.”

A partnership between NOAA, The Kohala Center, and a number of other entities, the Kawaihae Watershed Restoration project, located within NOAA’s West Hawaii Habitat Focus Area, is aimed at reducing land-based sediment runoff in the Kawaihae watershed to protect nearby coral reef ecosystems. This project is based on the Pelekane Bay project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008.

As part of the grant funding 12 miles of fencing will be placed to protect 8,500 acres of habitat area; more than 1,000 feral goats will be removed from the landscape; and new native trees and shrubs will be planted around 10-acres of the adjacent watershed areas.

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