2/19/2024 #kihei #beach #debris

Guest post from Dr. Mary Trotto

After the storm in January, piles of debris came down the mountain and ended up on our beaches in Kihei. Last year we had a similar event  and a similar dumping of upcountry debris on our beaches.  At that time, after a number of emails I was told that the State had jurisdiction over our beaches but there is an agreement with Maui County that they would be responsible for small items found on the beach.  I wrote to the County  with a cc to the State asking to have a work crew remove the large tree limbs, burnt wood and the massive amount of debris that has landed on our beaches.

I received a reply for Amy Wirts asking me to confirm which beach had the debris. 

I did confirm this information.  I soon received a second email from Amy, here is her exact reply and I  quote. “Thank you for confirming Mary – County Public Works sent someone out to evaluate the situation yesterday – and their assessment was that there is not currently a dangerous condition, it appears as though someone has done some raking and most of the shoreline is clear, although there is still some debris along the beach.  I recognize that this is likely not the response you were looking for.  Public Works did also confirm that for future events they are the appropriate entity and they operate on a complaint-based basis for beach debris.

Thank you,


I was befuddled by her remarks.  How anyone could have gone to the beach, looked at the amount of debris all along the beach and decide it did not pose a dangerous condition was incomprehensible.  A few beach users realized that something had to be done, they came to the beach and  removed 12 large garbage bags of the debris pictured in photos attached.

12 large garbage bags of removed junk did not even scratch the surface.   More importantly, we realized that there was a tremendous amount of small pieces of   plastic, rubber, styrofoam, string and other stuff amongst the large tree limbs and burnt wood which was part of the debris. We  then gathered a sample of what was part of the mess that was scattered all over the beach.  See the attached photo of what was found amongst  the debris on the beach.    Although the debris made it difficult to maneuver as one tried to go into the ocean, it was even more harmful for the green sea turtle that inhabited our near shore waters. If a king tide came in and took this debris into the near shore waters, that would mean that all of this plastic, rubber, styrofoam and stuff could be ingested by our Honu.    

At this moment, the debris is back from the shoreline and near the dune but a high tide event will bring all that plastic and junk into the ocean.

Green turtle, our Honu, beware!!

I wonder if the public works person who stated that the debris did not constitute a dangerous condition, had even considered the impact of all that stuff  on the health of the sea turtle?

Some of you might recall that Kam 1 Beach Park was once given the title of “Best Beach in the World” by those that evaluate beaches.  What would this organization say now if they came to evaluate Kam 1 Beach Park? 

Who can help get all of this junk off of the beach before the next high tide?

The state and the county, up to this point, have shown no interest  in removing this junk since it does not constitute a “dangerous condition.”

Dr Mary
resident of Kihei
Kam 1 beach frequent user



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