The Makauwahi Cave faces staff reductions

  • Photo courtesy

    Lida Pigott Burney From left, Bernard Kogyeg, Henry Nakaahiki Sr., Joe Kanahele, Julian Kanahele and Keaka Kanahele are recipients of internships provided for unemployed Native Hawai’ians through the EPA Supplemental Environmental Project at Makauwahi Cave Reserve. In this archived picture taken in 2018, they are replanting eroded areas of the adjacent abandoned limestone quarry with native plants.

PO‘IPU — The Makauwahi Cave Reserve is looking at a significant reduction in staff if additional funding isn’t gathered when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant is depleted at the end of December.

David A. Burney, Ph. D., Professor of Conservation Paleobiology at the Makauwahi Cave Reserve said staff could be reduced by 50%.

During the first wave of the pandemic, Makauwahi Cave Reserve was awarded $208,000 in CARES Act funding from the County of Kaua‘i through the Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development Inc. to expand the Makauwahi jobs program.

The CARES Act funding enabled MCR to carry out some large-scale restoration projects and improve our visitor amenities by providing 10 temporary employees, which doubled MCR’s staff size. The grant also covered supporting materials and equipment costs.

“This year has been a unique challenge, as our usual revenue from visitor donations has virtually dried up with the cessation of off-island visitation,” Burney said. “As a small nonprofit, it has always been a struggle to fund our projects, but we have managed over the years.”

Building blocks for success

Burney said MCR has benefited from the CARES Act funding by making a series of on-the-ground improvements and being temporary employment to community members.

“If more money becomes available, we could certainly use some of it,” Burney said. “Our staff has been grateful for the help we’ve received from the county via the CARES Act.”

The CARES Act funding received has helped other community members besides the MCR.

“The funding has helped not just the reserve but the whole community by providing jobs and career training, purchasing building materials locally and helping local small businesses,” Burney said.

There are many adjustments small businesses and non-profit organizations will have to make to survive.

“Some will fail, and some will survive,” Burney said. “Almost all of them will be affected, I suspect.”

Burney thinks many of the survivors will make the proper adjustments to their business models.

“Most of the survivors will have to make major changes in order to adapt,” Burney said. “Government funding for a while longer will help, but it’s no substitute for a true economic rebound, and that will depend entirely on the course of this ongoing pandemic.”


Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or

  1. I saw a Vampire once December 26, 2020 9:16 pm Reply

    I was just curious, I know i’m a little late commenting on this article, so I’ll make my point. This CARES ACT covers all types of employees who lose their jobs due to the pandemic. I’m sure of any studies done, but are their any studies done that say sunlight gives you the necessary Vitamin D our body needs, in the absence of any side effects from skin cancer? It may or may not be in favor of the results for which it was intended for. Vitamin D. Bones and muscles. If this was the case. Natural Vitamin D from sun exposure. Just wanted to know.

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