Puna News — Monkeypod Trees Chopped Down In Opihikao

chopped treeBy Tiffany Edwards Hunt

Six months after Big Island Chronicle first told you about a landowner’s plan to chop down Monkeypod trees on acre of land designated as conservation in Opihikao, the trees are being cut.  Ed Schroeder has contracted with Alakini Tree Service for the tree cutting.  Schroeder, who, with his wife, Sharon, has a Hakalau address, was not present for the tree cutting that commenced today.  He did not, by press time, return a phone message left by Big Island Chronicle.  In November, BIC told you that Schroeder had met with Uncle Robert Keliiho’omalu, a Hawaiian patriarch in the area, to help mitigate what has been a lot of tension in the area with neighbors as a result of the treecutting plan.  Keliiho’omalu on Monday morning wasn’t aware of the fact that Schroeder opted to continue with his plan to cut the Monkeypod trees, estimated to be about 100 years old.  Keliiho’omalu expressed his frustration and disgust.  A number of residents neighboring the parcel on the ocean side of Red Road and Kalapana side of Opihikao church expressed their sadness and dismay that such historic and significant trees could be cut down.  Some neighbors outright cried.  Alakini workers weren’t phased by the neighbors’ disappointment.  At least one Alakini worker hollered out “yeehaw” as the first tree fell.  But would not make a comment when this reporter engaged him.

Mark Evans, a nearby resident and staunch opponent to the treecutting, stood watching the tree cutting with his kindergarten-aged daughter on spring break.

“We put up a good fight.  Sometimes the people don’t see the beauty of Hawaii the way most of us do,” Evans said.  “Shame on you, Ed Schroeder.  Shame on you.”  Schroeder obtained the permit for $50 through the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

In the last six months that neighbors and Schroeder were in dialogue, KAPONO, a group of residents seeking to preserve the character of ambience of Red Road, was trying to get a scenic byway established for Red Road and ensure the trees that comprise the area’s impressive tree tunnels are denoted as exceptional trees and preserved.

More tree cutting is expected for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 25.

chopped tree 2

 

17 replies
  1. sada anand kaur
    sada anand kaur says:

    CaiIf people really want to live in a mainland environment, then go to mainland.
    Genification of our beautiful island is a shame.r

  2. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Lower Puna,

    I am concerned for the beauty that all the islands of Hawaii have. Beauty that can be found nowhere else in the world. Beauty that was here before I was born and the beauty that will be here after I am gone.

    There is life after death. So a few trees will be cut down,…….thousands will sprout and grow to flourish in their places. Bigger, better and more beautiful trees. It is the way of nature.

    It worries me that a handful of neighbors believe that they have the right to determine what another neighbor can or cannot grow on his or her property. It is the landowners right to see the beauty and/or value of the property he or she owns…….and no one else’s.

    I say, mind your own kuleana, no maha’oe or niele your neighbors kuleana. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in this case, the landowners perception is the only one that matters.

    Aloha.

  3. fruit farmer
    fruit farmer says:

    ocean front land that is not already built on should be preserved for the benefit of all who live, fish and swim here.

  4. CSGray
    CSGray says:

    Handyman,
    It took those trees 100 years to grow that large, during that 100 years many different people owned that property and saw the value in those trees for themselves, for the community, and for the future. The current owners are short sighted, any certified arborist could tell them that they have now drastically reduced the value of their property by removing the very thing that made it special. Trees of that size and beauty do not happen overnight, and replacement value would be in the tens of thousands of dollars per tree.

    Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it. Lower Puna is a small community, these people have now set themselves apart from their neighbors by declaring that their private property rights to destroy a thing of beauty that has been part of the local environment for a century trump the needs/desires of the community they are joining. How much help are they going to get from that community when there is an emergency? How much neighborliness can they expect, how much aloha? I would guess they have now defined themselves as “those people” who don’t care about their neighbors, or their neighborhood. Not a good way to define yourself when you live in a place that has limited police, fire and ambulance services and is vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters, because that is a place where you need your neighbors on your side.

  5. hilojoey
    hilojoey says:

    So sad. I do not understand why they wanted to destroy such beauty. What a tragedy. Very sad situation for ALL.

  6. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha CSGray,

    I went to the site and heard both sides of what was occurring and why it was occurring. Did you?

    I too, enjoyed and appreciated the art of natures creation. I too, am saddened by the demise of the trees. But I too, have no right to tell my neighbor that if he or she cut down a tree that’s growing on his or her property, that “I would no longer be a polite, courteous, helpful and honest neighbor”. That’s blackmail.

    If that be the case, then I wouldn’t want those types of people to be in my circle of friends, let alone “neighbors”.

    The value you and I may have for what grows on someone else’s property, has no merit as to what that property owner does with his or her tree, whether it took 100 years, 1,000 years or 3 days to grow. A good neighbor would understand this simple fact and continue to be a good neighbor.

    On the other hand, I would be imposing my values of another persons property, on the owner of said property, denying the owner of his or her own personal value for their “own” property. Do you follow me? Do you see where this is leading to?

    To take away the “right” to appreciate, value and or hold dear, is,…..if at all possible,…..wrong. It is part of the essence that makes all of us humans.

    Are you among those who believe they can impose their values on others?

    Aloha

  7. CSGray
    CSGray says:

    Handyman,
    Nowhere in my post did I talk about “imposing” anything on anyone, I did not advocate for new laws, rules or sanctions for future tree cutting. But pissing off the neighbors first thing when you move into a new neighborhood is just stupid. The natural consequence of that is the neighbors are far less likely to be friendly, because the newcomer has shown themselves to be uninterested in having a good relationship with their neighbors. Why go out of your way for someone who clearly doesn’t care about the community they moved into?

    Just because you “can” do something, or have the “right” to do something doesn’t mean you should. Very poor judgement on the part of the new owners of that land, but since they live off island they may feel they are immune to the natural consequences of their actions.

    I’m not sure where you got this quote from but it was not my post: “I would no longer be a polite, courteous, helpful and honest neighbor”. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  8. fruit farmer
    fruit farmer says:

    so maybe the guy wants to clear cut the entire lot, poison it of all life and build a 3 story apartment building. does he have the right because he owns it? i own my land but have a sacred respect for it, such that no one would ever say i made it less beautiful and fruitful to any one who might walk here. that man doesn’t care how his neighbors feel, or how the land feels. he follows his legal parameters. who wishes him well? this is the way of it. if not for Pele, this coast would be condos and hotels all the way. ocean front should be for all.

  9. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    You are correct, I didn’t quote you word for word. However, I did quote your point.

    But let’s do it your way this once.

    “It took those trees 100 years to grow that large, during that 100 years many people owned that property and saw the value in those trees for themselves, for the community and for the future”.

    (((The property owners saw “their values” in those trees. Not yours and not mine.)))

    “The current owners are short sighted, any certified arborist could tell them that they have now drastically reduced the value of their property by removing the very thing that made it special”.

    (((An Arborist could be called to give an appraisal of the trees if the property owner valued the trees. The property owner didn’t))).

    “Trees of that size and beauty do not happen overnight,”

    (((Of course not,….as you said, “it takes 100 years”)))

    and the replacement value would be in the tens of thousands of dollars per tree”.

    (((No amount of money could replace those trees, however, in 100 years you’d have another tree there, just as big and beautiful))).

    “Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it”.

    (((Just because you CAN gripe, grumble and complain about the cutting of the trees doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it)))

    “Lower Puna is a small community, these people have now set themselves apart from their neighbors by declaring that their private property rights to destroy a thing of beauty that has been part of the local environment for a century trump the needs/desires of the community they are joining”.

    (((If a branch of said tree is hanging over a public roadway and is in fact infested with termites and water rot with the potential of falling and possibly causing an auto accident, will this community help said owner pay for damages? I don’t think so. So yes, it trumps the needs/desires of said community)))

    “How much help are they going to get from that community when there is an emergency? How much neighborliness can they expect, how much aloha”.

    (((So, are you saying that the community in that area would not render aid to said landowner if there was a medical emergency and so would just stand there and let said landowner die? All because said landowner cut down trees on his or her land to build a house to live in? If that’s your idea of ALOHA, you’re severely uneducated and should move out of state)))

    ” I would guess that they have now defined themselves as “those people” who don’t care about their neighbors, or their neighborhood”.

    (((Now who’s putting words in other people’s mouths? Did you hear said landowner say that he or she didn’t care about his or her neighbor and or neighborhood? Sounds like gossip to me)))

    “Not a good way to define yourself when you live in a place that has limited police, fire and ambulance services and is vulnerable to a wide range of natural disasters, because that is a place where you need your neighbors on your side”.

    (((I was born here on this island before Statehood. I am of Hawaiian, Japanese, Scottish and Irish ancestry. I am as native to Hawaii as one can be, and it is you who are defining yourself as “those people”. Yet I tolerate you, because it is the way of ALOHA)))

    Aloha

  10. Errol
    Errol says:

    Those tree tunnels does present a danger to driving…shadow light shadow…your eyes readjusting to the light each time it changes playing tricks to your eyes that one day someone will get killed. And I’m not the only one who said that. But that’s not my point. My point is…Its the new owners “Kuleana”. It is his rights! E Handyman…Pololei oe. No ka po’e o Puna, Mai huhu, Mai Hana ino, Mai Pilikia, a Mai Mahaoi. E Ho’oponopono. Handyman, you are correct. For the people of Puna, don’t get mad, don’t mistreat, and don’t be rude. Make things correct. Share Aloha

  11. Lisa Roach
    Lisa Roach says:

    Parks, trails… how much might it cost? The benefits?
    So sad for the irreversible damages. Those trees were beautiful.

  12. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Lower Puna,

    I am an owner of several hundred acres of land in Lower Puna. When my Japanese grandfather bought the land, (in the late 1940’s) from two Hawaiian families, it came with family graveyards of each family. Along with the purchase, was a written and signed agreement that my grandfather would not relocate any of the graves as long as any adults at that time were still alive.

    10 years ago, the last adult descendant (of that time), passed away. At that time, we had the legal right to relocate any and or all of the graves, of both family cemeteries if we so desired. We chose not to.

    Since then, we were approached by a man who was from South Africa who wanted to purchase 10 acres for purely investment reasons. We offered him a parcel with one of the cemeteries attached, along with the written and signed agreement. He took the offer and he too, chose not to relocate any of the graves, knowing that he had the legal right to do so, if he so desired.

    The decision to not relocate any graves was made by the (we) the landowners and not the community at hand. Had we decided to relocate any and or all the graves, would still be pono, no matter what the community at hand thought or felt.

    My point is that, it is not the kuleana of the community at hand but the landowners and only the land owners, to do with their property as they see fit.

    Aloha

  13. Anakala
    Anakala says:

    Handyman

    your misappropriation on the Hawaiian concept of “pono” falls in line with others, among them aloha, “okole puka”, kuleana, et al., you have misappropriated in the past.

    do us all a favor and quit injecting your superficial understanding of these words and values in efforts to substantiate your american views relating to mans relationship with its environment as well as its ancestral remains.

  14. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Anakala,

    I could say the same of you, but it wouldn’t be “pono”.

    Throughout the history of Hawaiians, there has always been a disagreement with the meaning and usage of certain Hawaiian words. This is “one” of the reasons why the islands were divided before Kamehameha united them again.

    So there is “some” truth to “some” of what you’re saying. “Okole puka” is one of them. However, the English language, along with other languages, have evolved throughout the history of itself, the “Hawaiian” language is no exception.

    The whole concept of any language is “communication”. Because I am conversing with English speaking Americans, I believe I have “communicated” my point.

    I appreciate you going out of your way to make your point,…..and I thank you.

    Aloha.

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