BY TOM LODGE – People that know outdoors people, ask or comment on the recent election and the overwhelming Referendum by the people of the Island of Hawaii on the job that both the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) does and also on what they see happening to our forests in the “name of science and watershed protection.”

People also have an innate or inherent sense of values and legitimacy and they are seeing neither from the DLNR, the Board of Land and Natural Resources nor from the Feds and their swarm of “scientists” who have invaded our forests, and who survive on crisis, as does much of what goes on in our forests. I say crisis, because when they fix something, it seems the money stops. For the people of Hawaii that very implication should be cause for great concern and of course the results are in enormous supply.

I’m going to contain my thoughts here to the Palila, since it is the aerial slaughter of one of our important resources that prompted the resolution and bills by our County Council to stop its continuing and senseless progress. For 30 years, we have been spending millions of dollars each year to save the Palila, carried out through a frivolous indictment on ungulates, one of Hawaii’s important resources. This is no less troubling than sending the wrong the man to the electric chair or firing squad, and has to stop! A wrongfully applied Court Order is no excuse; this entire affair needs to be re-evaluated, except appearances seem to indicate it’s all about the money and a failed precedent.

Speaking of precedent, another meaningful sleight of hand is “their” use of the term “ecosystem management”.  Now instead of just taking care of a plant, they have coopted the term instead to fence in thousands of acres of forestlands in the “interest of science”. However, according to one noted author on Ecosystem Management, Robert T. Lackey, one of the more germane pillars of ecosystem management goes like this; “Ecosystem management should maintain ecosystems in the appropriate condition to achieve desired social benefits; the desired social benefits are defined by society, not scientists.”  Except to the right parties, “There is money in them thar hills!”  And you wonder why the people of Hawaii are tired.

Lastly, their stories don’t hold water. They blame the sheep but 30 years of slaughter have done nothing to help the Palila. The truth is they don’t know what affects the Palila. But as they always have, they will focus on the sheep and goats and deer and whatever else they can blame in order to mask their ineffectiveness. This slaughter of the sheep needs to stop. It is an important Island and State resource and not worth sacrificing for failed policy and science!

It is high time that the State recognize that this court ordered mandate must be challenged and a new plan for the mountain needs to be implemented, a plan that includes all the stake holders with a strategy that benefits all of our people and resources. There is such a thing available too, it is called a Cooperative Resource Management Plan, but anytime you ask the environmentalist to collaborate, they reject it. The people know this, and they are tired of it. This is just the beginning. The people of Hawaii apparently feel that they have been tread upon for far too long.

Tom Lodge is a resident of Keaau, Hawaii