Saturday, March 8, 2008

Musings: Other Points of View

The mist was floating in the pastures, the mountains were crystal clear and everything was cast in hues of purple, blue and gold — including the pesky little dog that joined Koko and me on our walk this morning.

She was full of play, but had absolutely no street sense and darted out in front of trucks twice, causing the motorists to give me stink eye, like it was my dog out of control, and she ran into other yards, setting off the dogs tethered there.

Finally, one neighbor with a lot of dogs got hold of her and apparently called the number on her collar, which I found out when I got home and called the number I’d memorized, too. It turns out the owner was on the mainland and the “knucklehead” staying at his house was just letting her run loose, so he made arrangements for her to stay elsewhere until his return.

So it all ended well, instead of with a dead dog on the road, and was yet another reminder to me to talk to people directly and nicely express my concerns and withhold judgment until I know the whole story.

Because there always is another side to the story, as a reader suggested in his response to my post on The Path, in which I expressed reservations about opening up wild areas to all the people who could then easily access them via a concrete walkway.

Re the path: I get your comments. I'm a supporter in part because it provides access that once existed, but which has largely disappeared. When I arrived on the island, you could travel on pretty much all the cane and pineapple roads (except G&R), and thus places like the Kealia coastline, and the coastline down below Hanamaulu and other areas were accessible to fishermen, hikers, bikers, kids etc. Over the years, largely I think because of liability concerns, that access has been curtailed in some of these areas and many others. Gates across roads. Inaccessible coastal as well as mountain areas. (Tried to get to the forest reserve from the Lihue side lately? Can't do it. Locked gates.)

There are clearly benefits to keeping people out, in terms of conservation, but in Hawai'i, benign neglect no longer serves much of a conservation purpose. There are too many alien species aggressively damaging resources. They need, if they are to be saved, some level of active protection. I keep hoping that involving the public is needed. Seems that with good signage, community involvement, etc., bird colonies, naupaka patches and the like can be well protected. To simply leave the coastline inaccessible amounts to protecting the state forest and park lands by restricting human access. The goats, pigs, mosquitoes, cats and rats simply have free rein in that condition. (I'm told by a helicopter pilot that Honopu Valley, where all access by humans is restricted, is now largely denuded of all vegetation by goats.) Someone needs to undertake that activity, certainly, but I'm not convinced that restricting the people from it is the answer. I'm kind of a Baba Dioum guy: "In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."

Someone needs to do the teaching. Hawaii residents will certainly not learn to love what they can't even get to.

He’s right about the need to teach people how to malama and I am totally in favor of providing full coastal and mountain access to people — with caveats in areas where albatross, nene and other birds vulnerable to dogs are nesting. Still, it doesn't always have to be easy access.

Another friend said he supports The Path because once it’s in place, landowners can’t close off access and he wants to make sure his kids can still have lateral shoreline access, because so much has already been lost.

It’s true the county has done a lousy job of protecting — heck, even recording — public accessways. Does that mean we need to ring the island with concrete to ensure we can get to the beach? Some areas do have access, but are not yet developed with paths, pavilions, etc., and I’d personally like to see them remain in their natural state.

Meanwhile, Councilman Mel Rapozo left a comment on the Passing the Buck post, in which I criticized his stance on the proposed ag moratorium.

He wrote: “Just to let all of you know, I am looking at legislation that would limit the density on CPRs. I am looking at the Big Island's current law that may address the CPR issue here on Kauai. Thank you for all of your input.”

Thanks, Mel, for taking the lead in looking at that, because as Andy Parx noted in his blog, even though the county often pretends otherwise, it can control CPRs and density on ag lands.

It’s a complicated issue, and I don’t claim to have the answers. The ag moratorium wasn’t a perfect bill, but those of us who supported it were expressing a deeper concern. And that’s about the pace of development and maintaining the integrity of Kauai’s agricultural lands, which some — but certainly not all — hope will help feed us in the future and not be used for housing that people already here cannot afford.

Maybe that’s all just a pipe dream, and I really should get with it and take the bike path to Costco.

But then I hear Mama Aina calling me, and I’m not quite ready to give up yet.


Mel Rapozo said...

Thanks Joan. CPRs are a tricky issue because it deals with ownership, as opposed to zoning or use. The County only has the authority to control use and zoning, not ownership. This is a delicate and complex issue, but I understand that the Big Island has figured out how to control it.

As far as the bike path, I share your concern about the threat to the "wildlife" and the large amounts of concrete that is being laid in many very beautiful areas along the coast.

I was surprised to hear that the County already had a license from DHHL because it never came before the Council, which is required. The last I heard was that the Anahola community did not want the path going through their area, and that the County was going to have more discussions with the people of Anahola. I will follow up on this matter.

I really enjoy your blog, and I plan to visit regularly. It is very interesting to see all the different points of view. Keep up the good work.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks for reading, Mel, and for following up on the Anahola part of the path.