• Lis Richardson

The Role of Fences on our Sand Dunes

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

Maui coastal areas are exceedingly popular and because of the extreme and continued use, the fragile dune system can become trampled and eroded. Sand fencing is often the most important tool in the toolbox for dune restoration projects since it makes it possible to delineate protected areas and redirect human foot traffic onto designated trails. When foot traffic on the dunes is eliminated, dune sand growth and development always follow. The unique fencing is also used to help capture blowing sand, especially in situations where native dune plants are not established or where there is a sand blow-out that is allowing wind-blown sand to escape the dune environment.

There are several styles of sand fencing and it takes a discerning eye to determine where placement will be least destructive to the dune and yet offers the maximum benefit. On Maui, the Coastal Hazard Specialist from UH Sea Grant is responsible to provide the authorization and guidance for any placement, style, and installation procedure for all sand fencing projects. Placement of authorized dune restoration signage also assists the public in understanding the importance of sand fencing on our public beaches and dunes.

The installation of sand fencing helps to prevent erosion, accrete sand, and allows dunes to move freely while still providing ample permanent access to recreational beach areas. Sand fencing is an important means to protect our sand dunes, and a Foredune Asset Management Plan through UH Sea Grant would help direct all dune restoration efforts County-wide.