Kihei Salvation Army’s donation system is taking a toll on South Maui’s La`ie Wetlands. The wetlands are located behind Kihei Salvation Army’s Halekuai Street location. According to Salvation Army management and neighbors, the trashing of the wetlands has be going on for years (see video at the top of this post showing the extent of the trash littering the wetlands).
“I’ve only been here for about a year and a half,” said Salvation Army Lt. Steven Howard, who manages the Kihei location. “I’ve known there’s been issues out in that wetlands with trash being deposited ever since I’ve been here.”
The trash apparently comes from Salvation Army’s donation system and roll-off dumpster, which is is located at the end of their rear driveway. The driveway is enclosed with chain-link fencing, the longest of three lengths clad in barbed wire. Howard said the major hurdle seems to be entering the private property while seemingly missing the point of securing donation items and trash first.
“I have had conservations with the condos across the way,” Howard said, though he added that he hasn’t spoken with the landowners of the wetlands. “We’ve talked about the cleanup, [but] the issue that we run into is that the land is not public. It’s actually private property. One of the concerns we’ve had is going on to that land that is private property and moving items and things like that, entering the property.”
One employee at the Salvation Army location in Kihei added that people who drop off donations without following their rules contribute to the troubles in a big way.
“It’s been a big problem,” the employee said. “We stop accepting donations at 4pm, but then we come in [the next day] and people have dropped off their things. Then other people come in and they steal, because there’s some good stuff, and they come and take it. We started parking our big truck to block off the driveway on Saturdays so they can’t come in, but they just dump on the other side. It’s clear we don’t accept mattresses, we don’t accept your garbage, but they think we’re the dump.”
Howard said Salvation Army officials have been trying to keep items from their Kihei store from entering the wetlands, but so far haven’t been successful.
“I think some of it may be coming from the dumpster, yes,” Howard said. “I also know there is other trash like derelict vehicles [that are] obviously not coming from us. I do know that we’ve had the issue of individuals breaking into the back area and rummaging through our trash. We’ve tried to do several different things, even before I got here. We’ve tried different dumpsters, ones that have locking doors and things, and those would be broken open, one was even set on fire. We work with the police and have the police out there when we’ve caught people back there in our back area. It’s an ongoing issue. We don’t throw things out there until the end of the week, about the time time the pickup is scheduled. We schedule more pickups than we need. Unfortunately, there are certain individuals that continue to choose to go into our back area and go through our trash.”
According to Howard, they’ve tried beefing up the Kihei store’s back fence, though he also admits that they haven’t been that successful.
“We’ve been looking at improvements to the back area,” Howard said. “We believe some people are coming over that back wall, even though the drop is really really far down. They’re somehow coming up from there because parts of our back fence are broken–our fence line has been cut many times. The new improvements that the new owner has made to the fence, fixing some of it, removing trees and –putting up some barbed wire, hopefully will deter [them]. But there definitely is more that needs to be done.”
Even if Howard and the Salvation Army could secure their dumpster and property, who will pay for the wetlands cleanup?
“I had talked to the county and their concern was that it is private property,” Howard said. “And of course that is our concern as well. We don’t just want to walk on to someone else’s property. There’s a lot of stuff in there–it’s more than just the trash. In order to clear out the area we need to work together. At this point we’re willing to pay for the dumpsters out there. We need volunteers because there’s quite a bit of stuff out there.”
Photos and video: MauiTime