Storm damages fences that protect Maui's native forests

Storm damages fences that protect Maui's native forests
(Image: West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership)
(Image: West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership)

WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The stormy weather that slammed the Valley Isle last week flattened fences built to protect native forests from feral animals.

On Monday, a team hiked into the West Maui Mountains Watershed to inspect the damage.

An aerial survey conducted by the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership revealed widespread impacts from the torrential rains and flash flooding, including wider stream beds, several landslides and lots of runoff.

The partnership covers 50,000 acres from the Wailuku side to the Lahaina side of the mountain.

"We saw some landslides that originated at the 5,000 foot level and came down steeply and washed all the way down to the streams," said program manager Chris Brosius.

In previous years, the partnership installed 22 miles of fences designed to keep wild pigs, goats, and deer out of native forests.

Flooding, which carried huge boulders and trees, has several segments of the fencing.

"The animals will be able to come in, in the absence of fences, and browse and dig up the watershed and essentially expose it to higher rates of erosion," Brosius said.

The repair work will be costly and time-consuming, he added. Helicopters will be needed to airlift materials and crews into remote spots.

"Sometimes it's on very steep terrain which requires them to utilize ropes and harnesses to safely work," he said "So when we see these fences that are taken out, it's very disheartening."

The damage estimate could reach $100,000. The partnership, which relies on county, state, and federal grants, will try to secure emergency funds to tackle the repairs.

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