Grove Farms' house environmentalist

SUBHEAD: Being in bed with Grove Farms leads one to do ugly things - even an "environmentalist". By Andy Parx on 14 February 2011 for Parx News Network - ( Image above: Mahaulepu terrain floats over southside breakers. From ( You wouldn’t know it from a visit but for well over 30 years war has raged at Maha`ulepu- the moniker used to describe last stretch of undeveloped coastline on the otherwise tourist-trampled South Shore of Kaua`i. It hasn’t been because Grove Farm hasn’t tried and tried and tried again. After a contested case hearing before the planning commission in the late 70’s failed to stop the golf course at the Hyatt, people became more and more concerned that the rest of the coastline would soon become another of those “beaches they sell to build their hotel” unless people organized a permanent effort to preserve the area. So a decade later Malama Maha`ulepu formed to provide a permanent presence to make sure that Grove Farm’s plans would be permanently back-burnered. This weekend the hostilities flared once again over a seemingly innocuous upcoming event at the nearby Makauwahi Cave where archeologists David and Lida Pigott Burney have been conducting their study of the “sinkhole” for the last decade plus. When Professor Burney first made his “discovery” those seeking to preserve the area had hopes that it would become just one more reason to preserve the area. But over the years Burney has, according to most preservationists, became anything but an ally, instead crawling in bed with Grove Farm whenever possible, toeing the company line and doing anything and everything they asked as long as he could maintain “his” dig. The problems of his possessiveness and need to be cozy with Grove Farm (GF) have put him at odds with some of the goals of Malama Maha`ulepu (MM) before but this weekend he inexplicably exploded when a poster and notice about his “appreciation celebration” was forwarded to MM’s members. It seemed innocent enough and rather innocuous. The widely distributed email with an attached a “pdf” of a poster promoting the event opened by saying:
Please join us on Sunday, March 6, 2011 at 2pm in the Makauwahi Cave at Maha`ulepu for an appreciation celebration. This appreciation day is in recognition of the thousands of people who have volunteered over the last two decades to help nurture the Makauwahi Cave Reserve to life!
It then described the program’s entertainment, recognitions and remembrances and gave directions- all information straight from the poster- giving the Burney’s email and phone “for more information.” But apparently they ticked of Burney by ending it with:
Mahalo, Malama Maha`ulepu PO Box 658 Koloa, HI 96756 follow us on facebook at Malama Maha`ulepu
(Full disclosure: we have volunteered with Malama Maha`ulepu many times.) That elicited a scathing letter from Burney giving his “apologies” and complaining that MM was usurping his little party to honor his wife who has the job as “manager of the Makauwahi Cave Reserve.” Nowhere did the letter say it was an MM sponsored event. And the poster didn’t even have MM’s name on it. Then why? Well it would do an injustice to excerpt his letter explaining why he needs to keep his lips firmly affixed to Grove Farm’s butt. MM distributed his letter that said:
Dear friends, It is with regret that Lida and I have to circulate this message, but we feel it is very important to make something clear: the invitation that you received today from Malama Maha`ulepu implies that they are the sponsors of an “Appreciation Day” event at Makauwahi Cave March 6. They re-named our poster file (sent out originally as “poster.pdf” to “mm.poster.makauwahi.appreciation” and attached a letter that would give anybody who didn’t know better the impression that they are the organizers of this event. They emphatically ARE NOT, and this is why it matters: Grove Farm employees have been invited to this event, as well as our “neighbors” down there – other Grove Farm leaseholders. I know with certainty that these folks, who have all played a big role in making our project possible at the cave over the last 20 years, do not support some of the positions espoused by the Malama Maha`ulepu organization, and will not attend if the illusion is perpetrated in the community that this is an MM-sponsored event. MM members and in fact everybody is welcome at this event, but we are not seeking their co-sponsorship as this could understandably cause our project great harm by souring the cordial relationship we have with our landlord, Grove Farm, and with many others in the community. We have always strived to maintain neutrality in the sometimes heated political issues down there, and do not wish our efforts hampered by direct association with the advocacy of MM or any other group. Our mission is to research, restore, and interpret Makauwahi Cave, that is all. As long as Grove Farm continues to entrust the property to our care, we intend to make everybody welcome regardless of their political views or group affiliations. Again, our apologies, David A. Burney Lida Pigott Burney
Ooooo- a little touchy aren’t we. Wonder why. Maybe because over the years the Burneys have taken advantage of MM’s preservation efforts to publicize his project which almost always receives a prominent display at MM tabling and events. As a matter of fact their PR efforts have been the chief way his project been publicized locally. Even though the MM letter didn’t even intimate it was theirs Burney felt the need to make perfectly clear that, despite his claim that he’s “strived to maintain neutrality in the sometimes heated political issues down there” he has indeed, as his words indicate, always supported GF in their endeavors as long as they leave his little kuleana in Maha`ulepu alone. Malama Maha`ulepu has only one mission- to preserve and preserve access to the whole region, including “the Burneys’” cave. Burney on the other hand is okay with letting Grove Farm use him to drive a wedge between preservation efforts for the entire area and preservation of his own private- and by the way, very profitable- venture. Grove Farm continues to covet Maha`ulepu if not as a place of future development- due predominantly to MM’s vigilance- as leverage for development elsewhere. By refusing to support preservation of anything but his own enterprise Burney erodes the efforts of the community at large to eventually fulfill the vision of a permanent Maha`ulepu preserve. Like the missionary Wilcox family that founded Grove Farm, the Burneys came to Kaua`i to do good and have done very well indeed. .


Anonymous said...

Who crowned the Burney's King & Queen of Makauwahi?

This special place should be under State or Federal protection since there are many rare artifacts.

dmcwilliams said...

"his own private- and by the way, very profitable- venture."..........
can you elaborate?


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