Heʻeia Wetlands Restoration

In Heʻeia, water from Haʻikū and Iolekaʻa valleys created a marshland called Hoi, where wetland kalo (taro) was traditionally grown. Over the years, the landscape went through various cycles of kalo, sugarcane, pineapple, rice, and cattle. Since then erosion, flooding, and increased runoff during heavy rains degraded the health and productivity of Heʻeia fishpond and Kāneʻohe Bay and today, mangrove and hau trees choke the stream and reduce wetland habitat for native species.

Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi is a community-based non-profit organization that has entered into a 38-year lease agreement with the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority to implement Māhuahua ʻAi o Hoi, a project to restore the currently fallow land into a working agricultural landscape. By doing so, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi will provide food security, biological resiliency, programs for research and education, and cultural and community use.

Townscape worked with the staff and Board of Directors of Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi to develop a Strategic Plan and a Conceptual Plan graphic and narrative to illustrate and share the community’s vision for Hoi. Additionally, Townscape secured the approvals needed from the State Commission on Water Resource Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that allowed for loʻi kalo (irrigated terraces) restoration. Townscape also worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to develop a Conservation Plan that was approved by the Windward Soil and Water Conservation District, thus allowing for agricultural operations.

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Loʻi kalo restored by Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi.
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Historic photo of the Hoi in cultivation (c. 1928)