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.