KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - With its cool water and clean sand Kailua Beach is a popular playground. But some regulars swear they can see it changing.
"Probably over the last five years or so I really noticed it starting to get a lot narrower," Keith Verwoest said.
Still, scientists and conservation experts insist the beach is healthy and actually building sand through a process called accretion. But they fear climate change between now and the end of the century will cause the sea level to rise by about three feet.
"A meter of sea level can certainly change the accretion trend at Kailua Beach and change that to an erosion trend," said Sam Lemmo of the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources Conservation and Coastal Lands.
If it happens scientists fear the sand dunes will be under siege so measures need to be taken now to ensure their protection.
DLNR and the UH Sea Grant College just released a Kailua Beach and Dune Management Plan. It advises against future activities like construction of sea walls and structures that could alter the natural state of the sand dunes.
"There's a trend for people to move to the beach and live there which drives up land values, which puts development pressure on the beach," Lemmo said.
The study suggests the state create land acquisition programs to buy up key properties to preserve them as beach reserves and it asks the state to institute aggressive shoreline setbacks -- a solid line in the sand construction can't cross
"In the past we haven't understood beach loss and therefore we have lost many beaches in the state of Hawaii," Lemmo said.
DLNR and UH believe if their recommendations are adopted today Kailua Beach will be protected tomorrow and generations from now people will echo Verwoest's words
"It's the greatest place there is. Everybody says so," he said.