On Maui’s southern coast, tourist foot traffic and development have gradually increased dune erosion and left the Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) without places to burrow. Although the Shearwater is not officially labeled endangered, biologists consider the species at risk.
But because Maui has many eco-friendly permanent residents, efforts are underway to protect not only the birds but the beaches vital to their survival. Under South Maui Volunteers’ direction, concerned islanders, also known as “Friends of the Land,” plant grasses and native shrubs like naupaka which can withstand proximity to saltwater. Naupaka creates ground cover that traps windblown sand which in turn restores the dunes and heals the beaches.
Volunteers also help reduce the direct impact of walkers who use the dunes as their pathway. They have built walkovers, fences and signs to reroute pedestrians around or over the dunes.
Cindi Wadlow, a regular South Maui Volunteers’ participant, talked about making the local beaches healthier. “It’s more than just picking up trash or pulling weeds,” she said. “What we do now affects what will happen down the road.”
Like Maui’s environmentalists, CAPS is concerned about California’s ecological future, endangered by overpopulation and sprawl. Please donate here to CAPS’ California Then and Now project and Help Save Some America for Tomorrow.