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DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation and Corps of Engineers to Terminate Navigation Improvement Project for Ma`alaea Small Boat Harbor

Published May 4, 2012

Joint News Release

Neil Abercrombie, Governor
William J. Aila, Jr., Chairperson
Lt. Col. Douglas B. Guttormsen, Commander, Honolulu District 



Based on careful consideration of the implementation costs, regulatory requirements and other concerns expressed by the community, the navigation improvement project for the Ma`alaea Small Boat Harbor has been terminated by the project sponsors. The project involved investigation of harbor improvements to address navigational safety and surge-related problems in Ma`alaea Harbor. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was the Federal sponsor, and the State of Hawai`i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (DOBOR) was the non-Federal sponsor.

The project was originally authorized in 1968 and, over the course of time, a variety of alternative project designs including both external and internal breakwater structures were investigated to address the navigational safety and surge-related problems. However, concerns over impacts to adjacent surf breaks and biological resources were raised on several occasions, resulting in multiple delays in the planning process.

Most recently, USACE and DOBOR re-initiated the project in 2009, with a focus on using stakeholder input and updated technical information to better define and inform the planning process.

Through this effort, the decision to terminate the project was made based on careful consideration of the high cost associated with the proposed improvements (particularly in light of the current and foreseeable economic conditions), the regulatory constraints and mitigation requirements for unavoidable impacts to coral reefs, and community concerns regarding impacts to surf sites and natural resources.

"Based on stakeholder input, we are choosing not to move forward on this project at this time. We thank
the community for their input and will continue to work with residents to identify priority projects in Maui County," said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson.

Independent of this project, the State of Hawai`i has initiated improvements to the existing harbor infrastructure, including upgrades to the existing utilities (e.g., water and wastewater), a new ferry terminal building and loading facility, a new comfort station, and parking lot improvements.

In addition, the harbor’s northern catwalk has recently been replaced. Although not specifically intended to address surge-related or navigational safety issues, it is expected that these efforts will significantly improve conditions for boaters and other users of the harbor. DOBOR will continue to assess conditions within Ma`alaea Harbor, with consideration given to community needs and environmental requirements, and may consider future actions as needed to maintain a safe and functioning harbor.

Questions or comments concerning the project, or other future activities at the harbor, should be addressed to Edward Underwood, Administrator, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation (telephone: 808-587-1967; e-mail: or Cindy Barger, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (telephone: 808-438-6940; e-mail:

For more information news media may contact:

Deborah Ward
Department of Land and Natural Resources
Public Information Specialist
(808) 587-0320

For more information on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers please contact:
Joseph Bonfiglio
Honolulu District Public Affairs Chief
Phone: (808) 438-8317/9862

Deborah Ward
Joseph Bonfiglio

Release no. 12-011