Hanalei Watershed Hui is a 501(c)(3) non-profit environmental organization that strives to care for the Ahupua’a of Hanalei, Waioli, Waipa, and Waikoko guided by Hawaiian and other principles of sustainability and stewardship, integrity and balance, cooperation and aloha, cultural equity and mutual respect. 

History of the Hanalei Watershed Hui:The Hanalei Watershed Hui (the Hui), was established in 2000 as a 501c3 nonprofit to implement the Hanalei American Heritage River Program and Hanalei Watershed Action Plan. The Hui has focused its effort and funding awards on the assessment and restoration of the natural, cultural and economic assets of Hanalei. Recent projects include a continuing water quality monitoring program, restoration of the Okolehao Trail, replacement of aging cesspools in the riparian zone of the Hanalei River and the establishment of the Hanalei Makai Watch Program. The Hui also offers a continuing cultural education program which highlights watershed stewardship and kuleana curriculum. The Hui partners with Federal, State, County, NGO and community organizations and residents to address issues and concerns raised by the community and scientific assessment. 

The Vision of the Hanalei Watershed Hui:The environment of Hanalei is wholesome. The waters are fishable, swimmable, clean and support native species and fisheries. The coral reefs are healthy and productive. The forests are restored with Hawaiian plants and animals. The cultures, traditions and history of Hanalei are appreciated, vibrant and influential. The economy of Hanalei is diversified, balances and sustainable. The community, including our youth and visitors, are educated and active stewards of Hanalei by supporting this vision. The goals of the Hanalei Watershed Hui are:

  • The natural resources of the Hanalei Watershed are healthy and preserved for the future.
  • The economy of the Hanalei Watershed is diversified and sustainable.
  • Preservation of the culture and traditions of the Hanalei watershed guide planning and decisions.

In a 2008 update to the HWH Strategic Plan, the following areas of focus were selected:

  • insure water to Hanalei famers
  • improve water quality in Hanalei River and Bay
  • sustainable fishery
  • Develop integrated resource management plan, mauka to makai
  • Get the cars off the beach
  • Enforce the no wake zones in the Hanalei River and Bay
  • Develop a Hanalei Reef Name map
  • No big boats in Hanalei
  • Teaching youth about their place and kuleana


New Nonprofit Established: The Hanalei Watershed Hui, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was officially established in 2003 and replaces the Hanalei Heritage River Program as the local Hanalei AHRI community partner.The community is now able to compete for and manage grants on its own, reducing overhead costs, and making more of its funds available for on-the-ground efforts. TheRiver Navigator for the Hanalei has never been provided directly through a Federal employee; instead, the Hanalei Hui staff provide River Navigator services through its USDAForest Service grant. This process is continuing through the Hui, guided by its new strategic Watershed Action Plan.

Major Watershed Partnership Grant Awarded: A major accomplishment in 2003 for the Hanalei AHRI was competing successfully for one of 20 national Watershed Initiative grants awarded by the U.S. EPA. Hanalei’s winning proposal was based on its effort to document water quality problems in the river through its volunteer monitoring program combined with a proposal to solve the problem, working with a broad partnership of community, nonprofit, university, state, county, and federal organizations.
This $700,000 grant award, to be shared among the many partners, will support further monitoring, research, education, and management solutions, helping the Hanalei AHRI achieve its goal of strengthening community-based stewardship of the Hanalei ahupua’a. In addition to EPA funds, matching funds and in-kind support will be provided by USDA Forest Service, US Geological Service, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Dept. of  Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Economic Development  Administration), US Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Hawaii, State of Hawaii, County of Kauai, and community nongovernmental organizations. Their coordinated efforts will continue to improve the quality of the water and restore habitats for the native flora and fauna and the incomparable recreational resources of the Hanalei Watershed.

Water Quality TestingVolunteer Monitoring Program: Sampling and analysis of the river and bay waters for enterrococcus bacteria were initiated in 2000. Four times every week, volunteers tested the water and the data were reported to the Hawaii State Department of Health. Four times a year, a synoptic sampling involving up to 30 members of the community tested the water at fixed sites at the same time. Test results were published in a community newsletter and online. Investigation and reporting of the in-stream resources (native fish) and turbidity were also conducted and reported monthly.With three years of credible data and partner support, the results of this true community effort convinced water quality managers of the immediate need to reduce bacteria and sediment content. Photo left: Dr. Adam Asquith, UH Sea Grant Extension Agent, and Carrie
Johnson, HWH Field Technician, count fish in the Hanalei River.


Hosted Spring 2003 National AHRI Conference: The Hanalei Watershed Hui organized the Semi-Annual AHRI Conference, held May 14-16, 2003, to celebrate its progress, display its scientific findings, and share with other AHRI communities a working example of watershed restoration and protection using the traditional ahupua’a approach. Visitors to Hanalei were immersed in native Hawaiian culture, in particular the unique taro-farming culture of the Hanalei Valley, and they were introduced to the special environmental, economic, and cultural challenges of the local community. The conference served as an opportunity for local Hui partners to reflect on their early accomplishments and discuss plans for coordinating the new Watershed Initiative project and future grant proposals.