Developers are still bulldozing Kihei wetlands in 2023

The year is 2023 and developers are still bulldozing wetlands in Kihei. South Maui only has a fraction of its once-extensive Wetlands remaining. There are still many smaller fragments and pockets of wetlands that provide essential drainage and wetland services to our neighborhoods and our watershed.  However, developers are in a rush to bulldoze the remaining sections of wetlands. In some cases, the community has been able to stop some of this bulldozing, but unfortunately, several developers are using the planning department to gain special permits to Bulldoze sensitive lands under the pretense of Fire Protection.  Landowners in Maui County are obligated to keep their lots in a condition that is not a fire hazard.  So Public Safety trumps the environmental issues in this regard, and they are able to get permits from the planning department that allows them to grub, grade, and remove vegetation. And if this is allowed to happen on a wetland we lose many of the natural elements that make a wetland function including the vegetation, the soil composition, and the natural slopes of the topography.  The more developers are allowed to bulldoze Wetlands, the easier it is for them to deny that a wetland existed there. Or they can then claim that the Wetland is so badly degraded by bulldozing that it has little value in being restored. We need better protections for our remaining wetlands that include a stop to the issuance of grubbing and grading permits in the special areas.  There is new protection language in the upcoming community plan but that is not likely to come online for a long time.  Maui’s wetlands are in desperate need of immediate protection. 

Bulldozing in the Lāʻie-Mauka Wetlands April 2023

Wetlands are being erased by bulldozing and land clearing.

Waipulani Road Wetland before and after land-clearing by developer.
Waipulani Road Wetland before and after land-clearing by developer in May 2023.