'Tree Man' handing out plants at Capitol
Mark Hanson gives away native trees as a way of fighting global warming
HILO » Big Island tree lover Mark Hanson will give away up to 1,000 young trees Thursday* at the state Capitol to anyone who wants them. Since trees take the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, it's his way of fighting global warming.
He has one requirement for anyone receiving the trees: Take care of them.
Mark the Tree Man, as he is called, will be giving away mostly kukui trees, Hawaii's state tree, but he'll also have some hala, milo and, for anyone with a lot of space, some kamani, which grow to be giants.
All the trees are native to Hawaii or, like the kukui, were brought here by Hawaiians. He rescues seedling kukuis along the edge of highways where mowers would otherwise get them.
The giveaway will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hanson won't be hard to find. He'll be the guy calling out, "You can stop global warming. Grow plants and trees."
Hanson, 47, started on Maui in 1992, trying to "grow carbon out of the air." He collected sandalwood seeds in the forest and raised them. He gave away thousands, then tried to make a business out of it.
People will pay as much as $300 for a bamboo plant, he found, but they're reluctant to give $5 for a sandalwood. "There's no money in it," he said.
His latest moneymaking idea is to develop a couple of house lots at a time in the Puna District, taking out non-native weeds and planting native trees, preparing a driveway and a house site. He also markets beehive-looking houses made of concrete and cinder.
But his true love is giving away trees. In April he went to Washington, D.C., giving away 5,000 oak trees and 110 cherry trees in honor of the 110th Congress. Thirty senators were among the recipients. A Capitol policeman who got one said, "Bring plums next year."
In fact, Hanson hopes he's just starting. He plans to go to every state, starting with Alaska, giving away the state tree.
He calls it the Free Tree Event Across America.
He'd like to drive a biodiesel vehicle to complete the green theme, but he needs a financial backer. It won't be anything fancy. "I don't eat much," he said.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
» A giveaway of young Hawaiian trees will take place tomorrow at the state Capitol from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A Page A5 story yesterday incorrectly said the giveaway would be today , based on wrong information provided to the Star-Bulletin.