Erosion Control March/April 2017 : Page 9

ing sloping lands—for most of our lands are more or less sloping—we expose soils to accelerated erosion by water or by wind . . . In doing this we enter upon a regime of self-destructive agriculture.” Then there is Edward Hyams’ Soil and Civilization (1976), in which humanity is described as a bunch of parasites on the soil. My personal favorite of recent vintage is Dirt: The Erosion of Civilization by David R. Montgomery in 2007. If you Google this topic, you’re going to come up with some very thought-provoking slide presenta-tions by Mr. Montgomery, as well as YouTube videos of some of his talks. The International Erosion Control Association (IECA) needs to get this guy as a keynote speaker for Long Beach in 2018. those that did not, and let you decide for yourself how each has fared in their turn. Today I think Ahupua’a: From the Mountain Only with scents -scents dead leaves yield, to the Sea . In ancient Hawai’i, an And bracken, and wild carrot’s seed, ahupua’a was a narrow wedge of land And the square mustard field; that ran from the uplands to the sea Odours that rise following the natural boundaries of When the spade wounds the root of tree, the watershed. The ahupua’a func-Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed, tioned as a self-sustaining unit for Rhubarb or celery; communities or individual families. Each ahupua’a was sized based on The smoke’s smell, too, natural fertility, the abundance of the Flowing from where a bonfire burns land, and contained all the resources The dead, the waste, the dangerous, that a community needed in the form And all to sweetness turns. of water from the mountaintop, koa, It is enough and other trees in upslope areas, fer-To smell, to crumble the dark earth, tile land mid-slope for growing taro While the robin sings over again or sweet potatoes, and fish and salt Sad songs of Autumn mirth. from ponds at the toe of the slopes -Edward Thomas, 1878 – 1915 and the sea itself. Hawaiians consider soil a resource as much as water; sedi-ment in water—in fact, most pollutants in water—are merely Examples of Soil Stewardship and Not-So-Stewardship resources that are out of place. Stewardship of the land was vital—not because there were laws, regulations, or conse-Sticking to the CliffsNotes version of some of my research in quential fines, but because failure was not an option if the preparing this article, let me give you a couple of examples human community was to endure. I’ve always suggested that of civilizations that respected soil and water resources and Digging MARCH/APRIL 2017 EROSION CONTROL 9

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