MISC DEFENDS DALE CASTLETON
I wanted to follow up on one part of your July 25, 2012 story about Kihei Marketplace (“Big Waste”), which references the Maui Invasive Species Committee and Dale Castleton’s nursery.
By 2002, the South Kihei nursery had become overrun with coqui frogs presumably through the unintended importation of infested plants from the Big Island. Even in hot and sunny Kihei, a nursery with constant watering creates ideal habitat for coqui frogs. As many residents have discovered, finding and controlling even one coqui can be maddeningly difficult.
During early control efforts, Castleton allowed MISC to use his nursery to test the efficacy of caffeine and also considered using hydrated lime. Use of both products was eventually discontinued due to concerns about non-target impacts. Citric acid later became the control agent of choice, but at some point, there was a communication breakdown and control operations ceased. Through persistence and with county support, an agreement was reached with Castleton to resume aggressive control operations in 2006.
We can continue to focus on a time period where things weren’t working, as the MauiTime article does, or we can choose instead to celebrate change and success. Castleton and his nursery became a success story for what is possible with landowner cooperation. Before extensive control operations began, MISC hesitated to make “eradication” the goal because the nursery was so infested. MISC made dozens of night-time site visits to spray infested vegetation. The landowners used an excavator to remove green waste, eliminated debris piles, and provided water and hoses. They worked to prevent the introduction of new frogs to the property.
When MISC initiated a Coqui-free Certification program for nurseries and plant providers, Castleton was among the first to sign up. In 2008, after a year of no frogs detected on the property, the South Kihei property became the first formerly-infested site to officially attain coqui-free status, a remarkable accomplishment given how many frogs were initially present and a huge boost to our staff as a demonstration of what was possible. MISC has since eradicated 11 of 17 coqui population centers on the island, thanks to consistent funding from the County of Maui, as well as state and federal support. Because MISC has no enforcement authority, we depend on the cooperation of private landowners to allow access. Castleton has become a strong supporter of our work. I would respectfully suggest that both Castleton and the County of Maui should be applauded for helping to bring quiet nights back to the ‘hood.
-Teya Penniman, MISC Manager, via email
Anthony Pignataro responds: MauiTime greatly appreciates the work MISC does, but I am compelled to point out that in the story I mentioned Castleton’s troubles with MISC in just a single paragraph. The story also pointed out that Castleton did, indeed, become a success story when he and MISC cleaned out the coqui frogs: “After bad publicity, including an article in MauiTime, he began working with the Maui Invasive Species Committee and today operates a completely coqui-free business,” I wrote. That sentence, in my opinion, “applauded” both Castleton and the county for getting rid of the frogs.
Take a drive down South Pu’unene passed/through the [Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar] mill (like you were going to see Maui Friends of Library) and look at that big black mountain on your left. That is coal (Coconut Wireless, Aug. 9, 2012). It is used by HC&S to fire the boilers in the mill when they are not burning bagasse. Generally, they run the boilers to mill sugarcane, but they also use the steam to generate electricity for MECO. So while we don’t have a dedicated coal fired power plant here on Maui, we do have an electricity generating facility here that (sometimes) runs on coal.
Oh, and earlier this year the mountain caught fire briefly.
-Jerry Isdale, via email
I read your article regarding cane burning. I, too, agree it’s a huge problem. There are mornings it looks like an atomic bomb has been dropped in the valley. I also drove by the Pu‘unene Sugar Mill and noticed a huge pile of coal, so evidently they do use coal to fire the mill here.
We taxpayers subsidize the mill, guaranteeing a profit on sugar no matter the market price. I am against using my tax dollars to support private business. The investments of our tax dollars by the government has proven again and again to be unprofitable and unwise. Business practice at the sugar mill will never change as long as we subsidize their bad practices. I’ve traveled to numerous third world countries that have outlawed cane burning. Maybe we, too, could outlaw the same.
-Larry Laird, via email