Sunday March 4,2012 Maui News; Matthew Thayer
FIRST PHOTO: Supporters of four monkeypod trees facing possible removal wave signs along South Kihei Road on Saturday morning. Marilyn Colvin (waving) said a proposal to move the trees rather than cut them down still misses the mark. “We want them here; this is our urban forest,” she said. “We want them to to stay here, and we think the county can do it.”
SECOND PHOTO: Ace Shuster, 2, gets a ride from mom Courtney Shuster during Saturday’s rally.
County Communications Director Rod Antone said the county had recently received an offer to remove and relocate the trees at a lower cost than had been expected. But he said the Kihei Community Association would have the final decision for what to do with the trees, and the relocation proposal had been presented to the group as one option. While it’s not necessary to remove them right away, Antone said they would have to be taken out eventually. “The county feels that replacing the sidewalk, then tearing it up again when drainage improvements are eventually made along South Kihei Road, is a waste of taxpayer dollars,” he said. But he reiterated that the decision would be made by the KCA.
Viewpoint: Maui County needs trees
March 4, 2012
I think it is disturbing that county leaders have, within the past year, sanctioned actions which adversely affect our urban forests and green spaces. Removing a tree here and there as if there were an endless supply is beginning to take its toll not only on street and park trees, but on human nerves as well.
One of three recent tree incidences is the county’s announcement that four monkeypod trees on South Kihei Road will be removed. This amount of tree destruction is causing many to question county policies that allow our government to destroy the environment this way. It has been a deeply challenging situation for residents who want to protect and save trees. Greater collaboration with county officials and the Mayor’s Office could go a long way to foster a deeper collaborative spirit in the community.
I nominated four monkeypod trees on South Kihei Road for exceptional status last year because together the four trees form an impressive stand of trees along the street, making the whole of their parts greater than just the sum of the individual trees. In fact, this stand of four trees exemplifies the essence and spirit of the Maui County Exceptional Tree Law, which was passed in 1975. This law states, “individual trees or stands of trees should be protected based on their historical value, size, age, rarity, esthetic quality, location value or endemic status.” I believe the trees meet these criteria and qualify to be exceptional trees according to state and county law.
Although the history of the four monkeypods is interesting and gives one a better understanding of each tree’s growth patterns and habits, it is the overall unique beauty and landscape presence which makes the strongest case for protection. Almost four decades old, the tress are a historic resource on Maui. The state of Hawaii Exceptional Tree Designation even provides a process for remedy should someone destroy an exceptional tree or stand of trees. The designation process is lengthy, but so far the trees have made it most of the way through the required approvals. One could argue that the trees deserve a chance to complete the designation process since they have made it so far in the process already. Could the county be more receptive toward the trees given they are in the pipeline to be approved for protection?
The recent announcement that the trees will be removed is a death sentence unless the members of the County Council can complete the nomination process very soon. If not, we are about to lose these trees, because it is very doubtful that they will survive given the potential damage of removal. Someone asked me why folks are against moving the trees and the answer is very simple: These trees provide shade, animal and bird habitat, wind protection to adjoining shrubs, grass and microclimates, and a place to sit and rest or to just take in the beauty. Moving them is not an option for individuals who value urban forests and want to join the drive to save the green spaces we still have left.
This reminds me of a famous writer who published a book in 1971 about the dangers of tree destruction. Theodor Geisel, known to most as Dr. Seuss, wrote the story of the Lorax, who sought to save trees from constant chopping. Paraphrased, he said, “Yes, I am the Lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. Now, thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there’s not enough left to go around.”
Please help save our Maui trees.
* Marilyn Colvin is a member of the Kihei Community Association Street Tree Committee and authored the first Exceptional Tree Nomination of four Kihei monkeypod trees.