Physical Setting

The West Maui SWCD is the western land mass of the island of Maui, called the West Maui Mountain.  Elevation ranges from sea level to 5,788 feet at the summit of Pu`u Kukui. West Maui is typically mountainous and marked by numerous steep walled canyons. Areas of gentle slopes occur only near the coast.  Most of the agricultural lands are located on ridge tops between canyons and the small coastal plains in the Lahaina area.

 The island of Kaho`olawe is also part of the West Maui SWCD. Kaho`olawe is located about seven miles southwest of Maui and southeast of Lana`i, and is 11 miles long by 6 miles wide with a total land area of 44.97 square miles. The highest point on Kaho`olawe is the crater of Lua Makika at the summit of Pu`u Moaulanui, which is about 1,477 feet above sea level. This island is relatively dry (average annual rainfall is less than 26 in) because the island's low elevation fails to generate much orographic precipitation from the northeastern trade winds, and Kaho`olawe is located in the rain shadow of eastern Maui’s 10,023 feet high volcano, Haleakala. More than one quarter of the island has been eroded down to saprolitic hardpan soil.

History and Organization

The West Maui Soil & Water Conservation District was organized under authority of Act 191j of the 1947 session of the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii.

The district referendum was held on September 29, 1954. The Certificate of Organization was issued by the Secretary of the Territory of Hawaii on November 15, 1954. The first directorsmeeting was held on January 31, 1955.  Francis Kage was elected chairman and Manuel Nobriga vice-chairman. Other members of the board were Manuel Mendes, Eddie Rogers and Phillip Chun.

A Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Agriculture was signed on May 3, 1963, and the Supplemental MOU with the Soil Conservation signed on November 20, 1967.  Both memorandums establish the basis for cooperation between the district and the Soil Conservation Service (which is now the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service).

On June 2, 1976, the district signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the County of Maui to provide technical assistance to inventory and evaluate natural resources and resource problems, and review land use and conservation treatment proposals such as drainage and erosion control plans located within the district boundaries.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Health, the Soil Conservation Service and the District signed August 12, 1987 to assist in the development and implementation of the State Non-Point Program.

Entered into Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of the Navy, represented by the Commander Naval Base, Pearl Harbor, the Soil Conservation Service and the District to propagate native plant materials and mutually develop techniques for establishing these materials and to exchange information on Natural Resources Management and Conservation on the Island of Kaho`olawe, August 23, 1989.