Friday, September 25, 2009


THUNK: Our drive to Waimea yesterday was spent behind a raw sugar delivery truck on its way back from a Nawiliwili drop-off, spewing noxious diesel exhaust until it turned off into one of the soon to be abandoned cane fields of Gay and Robinson.

As we drove through the cross hatching of soon to be harvested and already barren fields destined for abandonment it was hard not to imagine what the next 10 years will reap if the paths of the rest of the abandoned cane fields from Kilauea to Kalaheo is the same for the G&R- massive runoff for the next few years, fouling reefs with chemically poisoned dirt as each heavy downpour washes away what’s left of top soil in waves of gooky mud.

It’s hard to cry about the last cane harvest on the island. All the good stuff of plantation life- idealized as it is ignoring the near slave-like conditions, plantation mentality and environmental degradation- hasn’t really existed for about 50 years now.

But for once, if we do it right, the aftermath doesn’t have to include the deposit of millions of cubic feet of soil in the ocean or leave ugly scarred land left to be a massive breeding ground for the spread of the invasive species that will accumulate if nothing is done now to stop it.

It’s time to put Keith Robinson’s title of “Mr. Environmentalist” to the acid test. Tinkering with native species is nice- for him. But if he really cares he’ll be remediating the land and restoring it as closely as possible to the condition his family found it in 120 years ago by nurturing a program growing and planting those native species he’s been propagating for years, stabilizing the land and letting it breath for a generation until it becomes living soil once again.

And then of course instead of turning it over to the frankenfood industry developing diversified ag-only, non residential lots to supply the food -and energy- the island needs in anticipation of the increasingly likely post-peak-oil day when “da boat no mo’ come”.

Perhaps he’ll even return the water to the streams and rivers from which it was stolen as the irrigation systems were put in place and restoring the native ecosystems that existed before G&R tore up the place for King Cane.

No laugh, eh. It could happen.


Fuzzy said...

Diversified Ag (organic is not possible) with 2 to 20 acre lots and coordinated water infrastructure could feed the whole of Kauai sustainably on about 2500 acres. It would be the fastest plan for stabilizing the soils, rehabing the land and diversifying the economy. The powers don't want to deal with many small leases though and will seek to keep it intact under one big corporate lease. Other pattern is rezone and develop it piece meal for maximum profit after paying ag tax rates for years, artificially pumping up scarcity and sale prices. The pols will likely be only to accommodating of their biz buddies wishes for manini campaign donations thrown their way. Ah, the islands...

Joan Conrow said...

Good post, Andy.