One thing I’ve become grateful of since moving to an island: you understand exactly where your resources come from.
Water being the most important. If we’re running low, we can’t just call up Utah or Arizona and tell them to send more down a concrete ditch. I learned so much spending time with the stewards of the Mauna Kahālāwai Watershed (West Maui Mountains). These mountains – Hawaiian meaning: “holding house of water” – supply Maui with 77% of its commercial water, and the folks who preserve it seem to be made from 1/3 geographer, 1/3 ecologist, 1/3 badass. Though they could tell me the name of every native and invasive plant species, they also hiked miles through scorching temps to reach their work locations. They pummel fence posts with 45-pound pounders, and they’re ready (if not willing) to camp out the night if weather gets bad (and a heli can’t scoop them).
I would never have associated fence building with conservation until this Hana Hou! magazine assignment. But on Maui, introduced ungulates (pigs, goats, deer) work their way up mountainsides destroying native vegetation and introducing invasive seeds. Ultimately this causes erosion, lessening the watershed’s ability to hold onto water. Looking at both sides of their fence was seeing two completely different ecosystems. In this case, it really is necessary to build that wall! For those on Maui, please thank the folks at Mauna Kahālāwai for what they do, it’s brutal and important work. For those elsewhere, try to figure out where your water truly comes from, and then maybe do something to protect it (donate, volunteer, etc.). Grateful to my friend Kyle Ellison who thinks up (and writes) these unique stories, finding a way to combine conservation, physicality, and creativity (my all time faves!). And to Hana Hou! who still cares enough about quality journalism to run a story like this. If you’re on a Hawaiian Airlines flight, check the story in the mag, or read the full story here.