The first Saturday in July was also the last time that our Hawaii Island Sierra Club service volunteers responded to the call from Mark Hanson’s Hawaii Reforestation Program in its usual place on the Southwest slopes of Mauna Kea – the very same critical habitat for the endangered Palila forest birds.
Mark, aka “No. 1 Sandalwood Man” has been an effective and outspoken conservationist leading at times a solo career envisioning the reforestation of our public lands with the storied and somewhat tragic native tree that was plundered and almost wiped out as an early export commodity for the rulers of old Hawaii.
Now with 10’s of thousands of trees planted under his guidance, this legacy may stand the test of time, and hopefully even the crush of invasive ungulates that have caused him finally to call it quits for this area. A new opportunity will take his skills and experience into a more defensible and unambiguously controlled area managed specifically for rare and endangered dryland species. And I am sure the noble Sandalwood (Santalum paniculatum) we have grown to love will feel right at home again.
Mahalo Mark!…for all the volunteers you have brought up the mountainsides…and for teaching us how to make such lasting contributions.
In this time of global warming; with all the uncertainties and questions it raises. One thing rings most true – “Trees are the answer”!