Beach Sand Mining on Maui’s north shore

Beach Sand Mining on Maui’s north shore

Sand Removal and Sand Mining: The main reason we have beach loss today is the fact that too much sand was taken off the beaches for commercial use. Beach Sand was used in the construction industry, but mostly for sugar cane production, and agriculture. Sand was removed from the beaches and nearshore systems for decades. Beach Sand was used as aggregate for construction, and also turned into lime. Lime is used to make concrete, used as a fertilizer, and is used an additive in the sugar cane production process. The coral sand was burned in a rotary kiln to produce lime.

Lime Kiln at Paia: HC&S ran a Lime Kiln in Paia for over 70 years harvesting sand from the adjacent beach at Baldwin Beach. The Paia Lime kiln was the only lime kiln operation in the nation to be using coral sand as a feed stock for their facility. The huge amount of sand removed from the beaches in that time has caused tremendous environmental damage, and has long lasting consequences that we are still experiencing today.

Here are some quotes from the 1961 Mineral Year Book:

Coral Sand mining on Maui to feed Paia lime kiln

and this one,

Beach Sand Mining on Maui

Sand removed from Kaa Beach:  Sand was also harvested from Kaa Beach which has never been replaced. The sandy beaches at Kanaha Littoral cell were historically much wider and the degradation we see today is a result was from over-exploitation of the finite sand resource by the Sugar Industry.

Beach Sand Mining is now illegal: In the mid to late 70’s the State of Hawaii passed laws that outlaw the removal of beach sand. However the damage to the beach environment has already been done. We are still seeing the effects of this damage decades later.

Beach restoration is possible: There has already been a lot of studies by State and Maui County that say that Kanaha Beach and other Maui beaches could (and should) be restored by replenishing sand stocks, from either land-based or offshore sand sources. But sadly there is no plans to do a beach replenishment project at Kanaha Beach. A sand supplementation, “beach nourishment” project would be a great assist to Kanaha Beach.

There have been several beach restoration projects around Maui: Restoration projects include inside the Kahului harbor on the eastern beach in front of the Maui Coast Hotel, Sugar Cove beach on north Shore, Stable Road beach 1/2 mile east of Kanaha Beach, The beach west of the KWWTP 1/4 mile west of Kanaha Beach, and several beaches in Kihei. But it is a very long time-consuming process to get the studies and all the permits, and the financing. Currently Kahana Beach on the upper west side of Maui (not to be confused with “Kanaha”) has been waiting for 11 years to get its badly needed restoration project going, and it is still going through the red tape.

Read More about Sand Loss Issues on Maui here.

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