Watershed restoration project rejuvenating Kauai stream

LIHUE — A Hawaii stream is coming back to life with help from a watershed restoration project, officials said.

The project funded by a state Department of Health and the federal Environmental Protection Agency has produced positive results in the Waipa Stream on Kauai, The Garden Island reported Monday.

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The $385,000 project that began in 2016 aims to remove dense hau bushes from stream banks and surrounding areas while clearing a path for healthy water flow and space for native plants. Food forests are taking root and there is a new swimming hole, officials said.

The project overseen by the Waipa Foundation has placed fencing around fields to block feral pigs and in pasture land with horses and cows. The fencing keeps the animals out of the water and helps lower bacteria levels below the state threshold for clean streams.

Team members have completed about three-fourths of the project, said Matt Rosner, a hydrologist who manages the project.

“The last one-fourth of it’s the toughest,” he said. “It’s the lowest (in elevation). Mud and mosquitoes. It’s not going to be easy.”

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Rosner and his team spend hours with chain saws clearing bush from stream banks, stacking wood and chipping it for mulch. They also have planted the beginnings of food forests and established a pig-hunting and trapping program.

“The vision is to not only do all this work to make a good habitat for the plants and animals, but also to have something in it for the human population,” Rosner said.

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