Kihei Street Trees keep KCA in the (Maui) News

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.


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Next in same edititon is Viewpoint by Marilyn Colvin

Viewpoint: Maui County needs trees

March 4, 2012
By MARILYN COLVIN , for The Maui News

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.

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6 Responses to “Kihei Street Trees keep KCA in the (Maui) News”

  1. I have a few questions for MARILYN COLVIN, do you live in this area of south kihei? have you ever had to block your front door with sand bags because of the winter storms that flood this area? and a few years back when this area was thicken with mud from the rain did you have to be turned away from going home because you couldn’t drive on the road to get to your street? if you don’t live in this area or had any of these problems then i don’t think you have a say when the county says these “4” trees need to be removed for drainage improvements in this area of Kihei. If by removing these trees means that the county will have better drainage to prevent flooding and damage to peoples homes then i’d say remove the trees now.

  2. Totally agree with the above comment. Ive had the same experience when it floods.The situation is definitely a public safety issue not to mention the loss of wages we all experienced not being able to get to work, property damage, neighbors having medical issues and medical help having to walk in to tend to them. Walk in our shoes before taking such a strong stand.

  3. Actually these four tress have nothing to do with Kihei’s tragic seasonal flooding. The very extesive public “Flood Forum” presented in Kihei last November carefully examined No Kihei’s flooding with several experts including various government represents and experienced, knowledgible private sector guys, and none of them saw street trees contributing to this situation in any way. In fact removal of trees upcountry does exacerbate our flooding. Mahalo.

  4. Its not the trees per se but the need for better drainage in that area which would necessitate the removal of the trees to build. County Public Works Director David Goode said that, “the trees will have to be removed in order to implement installation of drainage facilities.” Isnt this common sense?We’re not against trees or stupid enough to think the trees caused the flooding.

  5. Since the Drainage Master Plan is several years away from posible completion, what would be reason for removing the trees now? For a better understanding of what are the causes & potential solutions for No. Kihei flooding, you might attend Michael Howden’s presentation at Maalaea this Thursday evening. You can’t stop a waterfall from underneath the fall- you have to go the source of the flow up the mountain.

  6. I would like to respond to the recent comments about flooding along S. Kihei Road (SKR) and the future of the four Monkey Pod (MP) trees. First, one writer asked if I live near the trees and if I am impacted by flooding. I do not live in the specific area of the four Monkey Pods but everyone in our community is impacted to some extent in that flooding damages the reefs and ocean, adversely affects our whale sanctuary, costs taxpayers money, and hurts all of us in one way or another. My home is in Kihei and I want very much to save the Monkey Pod trees and other street trees for reasons I have tried to explain in numerous ways for a very long time.

    First, I want to express that I am sorry that my Kihei neighbors have to deal with flooding. I agree that something needs to be done and I think the county is working on the problem. However, the four Monkey Pod trees do not cause, nor do they contribute to the flooding incidences in the past in that area, and I doubt they will cause flooding in the future. A major problem for SKR near the trees is that condos, parking lots, and other concrete structures were built on the lowland, marsh area that was there originally. Another reason the area floods is very easy to see and understand. I invite individuals who doubt this to take a quick field trip down to see the current drainage area underneath SKR between Luana Kai and Village by the Sea condos and to see for themselves the small area, only about 15 FEET wide for drainage underneath SKR. A very small opening is allotted for water draining down the mountain to pass through and under SKR. Next, drive up to Pi’ilani Highway right above this small SKR drain and look at the colossal gulch the county has graded and widened on the makai side of the highway, and notice how huge this drainage path is relative to the small SKR drain pathway. No way can the rushing water from upcounty when it rains there make it through such a small drain opening without flooding. It has nothing to do with the four MP trees and to blame them for flooding is quite absurd. So, it’s not about the trees and it is everything about massive amounts of concrete and small drains on SKR.

    Maui County is just starting to work on flood mitigation in the area around the trees and it has been reported that it can take years to complete the plans. Perhaps it will help those who blame the trees for flooding to become more informed about the process. For example, trees actually help reduce flooding by soaking up water and slowing flooding. Local professional arborists have studied these trees and find that they are healthy, and that their characteristics allow them to survive in small spaces. And ways have been found to make compliant sidewalks and drainage improvements so that it may be possible to save the trees. Therefore, many citizens do not see a reason to cut these giant trees at this time and are seeking to save them.

    I think we can all agree that the more information and education we have, the better we can work collaboratively with our local government to solve this problem while protecting and preserving our green spaces, especially our large, mature street trees. We believe Maui can solve the drainage problems and keep our urban forest too, a win-win for Maui County residents and visitors. Come join us on the Street Tree Committee and participate in learning how we can preserve our trees, one of Maui’s greatest assets.

    Warmest aloha,