Erosion at popular east Oahu beach marks emotional turning point for some residents

After decades of erosion, city is trimming and removing trees at one of the nations top ranked beaches.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 4:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After decades of erosion, the city is trimming and removing trees at one of the nation’s top ranked beaches.

Last week, two trees fell into the waters of Kailua Beach.

“It’s fairly unbelievable how much beach we’ve lost and how much damage has been done,” said Vincent Ritson of Kailua.

The long-time resident said he’s sad to see some of the ironwoods go but said it’s necessary.

Ritson was at the beach, the day a tree fell.

“The lifeguard told me the tree came down about 10 minutes after I had gone by it,” said Ritson. “So, if I had been right in front of it, I would have been squished by one of the big ironwoods coming down.”

Byron Amona has lived in Kailua for 69 years.

He and Ritson remember when the sand stretched to the edge of the boat ramp.

“As the tide comes and goes, these rocks were exposed,” said Amona. “And last week there were rocks all around this beach, but you can’t see them because some of the sand has come back.”

Just last year, TripAdvisor ranked Kailua Beach in the top ten in the U.S. citing the sand and wide open space.

In 2019, Doctor Beach named it the best in the country.

But long before that, scientists warned that a rise in ocean level could rip the sand away.

In 2011, the city removed sand grabber barriers that became exposed.

At least twice in the past decade, the city added sand to replenish the shoreline.

Nathan Serota, spokesperson for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, said they are considering a dune restoration project and adding vegetation.

And following the advice of arborists, the city is removing nine trees from Kailua Beach this year, but the root balls will be left in place.

“They are still holding back some of the sand and helping to keep that beach erosion from getting worse and worse,” said Serota. The city said the middle parking lot will be closed for at least the rest of the week.

It’s being used as the staging area for removal equipment.

Serota said to contact the Department of Parks and Recreation to report any areas prone to beach erosion.