Sunday, April 23, 2006

Meditations On Trash

There is a stretch of highway leading into Kihei that I have helped pick up the trash on a couple of times. This work used to be done by convicts at least in American mythology and movies from earlier times. Now it is done by volunteers and sponsored by a business or civic group. We get to wear mega-bright orange T-shirts, no stripes though.

This approximately four mile stretch of road between major highway intersections seems to encapsulate a big chunk of Maui’s history and future. Kealia Pond, a National Wildlife Refuge, is the nesting and feeding grounds to several endangered Hawaiian birds. You can often see them wading in the marshy waters as you zip by at 55 mph.

Directly across the highway on the north side of the marsh is the oil burning plant for half of Maui Electric Company’s electricity generating capacity. This facility is about ten feet above sea level and three to four hundred yards from the ocean. They say it is not in a tsunami zone. Yea Right.

As you are headed north on this road there is an excellent view (sorry didn’t get a picture) of the new windmill towers being built on the top of the ridge line of the West Maui Mountains. Once online they are supposed to generate about 10% of our energy needs.

The sugarcane fields that still line a good portion of the road are beginning to give way to other farm crops. These fields are not for producing food though. These are test fields and seed fields for growing hybrid and some say GMO crops. That is a major weighty subject and I am not in the mood to look for all the facts at the moment. Suffice it to say these fields are there.

Why are these fields in Maui, because we are not in the middle of Kansas or Nebraska where millions of acres of agri-business crop’s pollen can interfere with the testing process.

There is also the unmistakable natural beauty that Mother Nature provided long before any human set foot on these shores.

Donning our ultra orange vestments and getting instructions on how to pick up trash.

Looking north at the West Maui Mountains. The new windmills are on the top left out of view because I am too close to the base of the mountain.

Looking south towards Haleakala. The electric plant smoke stacks can be seen between the first two telephone poles. Kealia Pond is the water to the left of the third smoke stack. The tall unmowed grass on the right is sugarcane. HC+S thanks you very much for your tax dollars.

One of the thousands of paper bags along the highway that are used to cover the hand pollinated seedheads of the test crops. The mowers do a good job of grinding them up and they should be biodegradable.

Looking out over the test fields.

The Erythrina Gall Wasp arrived about six months ago and is our plague du jour. It has turned the leaves of the Wili Wili into curled warty knots. I wonder what may arrive on the next plane or boat.

All Done. It feels really good to go pick up trash on the side of the road. Try it some time. I promise you won't look like a criminal.

1 comment:

christin m p in massachusetts said...

Thanks for helping to Keep America Beautiful!