By Maddox Royce
When the invasive plant Miconia calvescens threatened to destroy Maui’s rainforest as it had in Tahiti, Maui scientist Lloyd Loope stepped forward to help to organize a committee to successfully control it.
“Lloyd was very key in helping to set the course,” recalled Teya Penniman, a Maui Invasive Species Committee official.
A Celebration of Loope’s life is scheduled at 4pm on Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Maui Invasive Species Office in Makawao. Loope died July 4 at his residence in Makawao. He was 74.
Associates say in the early 1990s, Loope’s expertise as a botanist placed him at the forefront of a battle against Miconia, a large leaf tree that at the time had destroyed about 70 percent of Tahiti’s native forest.
The establishment of the Melastome Action Committee, later known as the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) in 1999, began as a public-private partnership under the University of Hawaii that drew upon personnel and resources of the county, state, and federal government as well as landowners and volunteers. It made use of helicopters to identify areas affected by Miconia and employed various methods of eradication, including poisoning and removal. Other invasive species committees followed on Hawaii Island, Kauai and Oahu.
Loope was an outspoken critic of the lack of adequate government screening processes to protect the native environment, noting that the federal process to ban noxious weeds took too long. He also was critical of allowing international flights to Maui without a state agricultural screening facility at Kahului Airport. State officials, facing a lawsuit opposed to extending the Maui runway for international flights, eventually agreed to build the agricultural screening facility–the first and only one in the state.
Loope, born on Feb. 4, 1943 in Virginia, combined his passion for the outdoors and science, eventually earning a doctorate in botany from Duke University in 1970 and working in the Everglades and Grand Teton national parks. After reading a book about Hawaii’s natural history, he moved his family to Maui in 1980, serving a research biologist for Haleakala National Park, his family said.
During some of his free time, he’d combine hikes with his children with eradicating invasive species.
“He’d take me a lot to look for invasive species specially on our free time,” said his son Marshall. “We’d pull out fountain grass.”
Marshall Loope, a plant quarantine inspector at Kahului Airport, said he was proud of his father’s efforts to restore the silversword by fencing out pigs and goats from Haleakala National Park.
Loope is survived by his wife Keri Duke, daughter Brook Loope and sons Bennett Loope and Marshall. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked friends to make a donation to the Maui Invasive Species Committee, P.O. Box 983, Makawao, Hi. 96768.
Photo courtesy the author