Punaluʻu residents and members of the Kamehameha Schools ‘ohana gathered Saturday to mark the official start of the Punaluʻu Stream Restoration Project. The event included manaʻo from community and enterprise leaders, a blessing by Koʻolauloa resident and kumu hula Cy M. Bridges before ending with mea ‘ai by Kaʻaʻawa resident and chef Kealoha Domingo KSK’89.
Kamehameha Schools gathered with nearly 50 Punalu‘u residents and community leaders Saturday to mark the official start of the Punaluʻu Stream Restoration Project, which aims to use ahupua‘a management strategies to provide flood control and restore a natural ecology to the stream.
“Our relationship with ʻāina along with our Native Hawaiian practices and values sustain the traditions and productivity of this historical and culturally-significant ahupua‘a,” said Dr. Jamee Miller, KS director of ‘Ᾱina Ulu and resident of Punalu‘u. ‘Ᾱina Ulu works with KS ʻāina tenants and partners on impactful outcomes that contribute to community resiliency.
“Community safety is a prime focus of this project but our hope is that through stewardship of these lands, we can also improve agricultural sustainability, stimulate learning opportunities and nurture a healthy and vibrant community while perpetuating its rural character,” Miller said.
The restoration design will restore a natural valley floodplain and terrace landscape, re-designate land uses so that farmers on chronically-flooded agricultural lands are relocated to elevated terraces, and create a new stream corridor that restores a floodplain connection with Punalu‘u Stream. All the work will be conducted on KS lands.
Past historical uses of Punalu‘u Stream resulted in the stream being constrained to a straight and unnatural channel. In 2005, major flooding caused damage to roads, properties, fields and crops in Punalu‘u. In 2007, KS initiated community consultation on the Punalu‘u Ahupua‘a Plan, which included stream stewardship and flood mitigation planning concepts. The plan was finalized in 2010. Since then, KS has sought to obtain a myriad of federal, state and city permits and approvals with the final approvals received in 2022.
Restoration work is expected to begin in May and then take 18 months to 24 months to complete. Visit https://www.ksbe.edu/aina/punaluu/stream_restoration/ for more information.