Guest Column — Community in Shock over DLNR Approved Tree Destruction

monkey pod 2By Syd Singer

A small community in a picturesque part of Puna is in shock, reeling from the loss of majestic monkey pod trees, their lacy leaves and hundred foot tall branches having graced this area for decades. They was cut down and reduced to chips on conservation land, where the road meets the sea in Opihikao, along Highway 137, locally called the Red Road.

The property owner wanted to build, as the law allows. Since this is conservation land, he needed to consult the Department of Land and Natural Resources about his plans to clear the area of these expansive monkey pod trees. The DLNR’s policy is to encourage the removal of “invasive” species, so the property owner had the green light to cut them down.

You would think that the purpose of having conservation lands was to protect our precious, natural resources, such as beautiful trees like these monkey pods. But to the DLNR, nonnative species are all invasive, and therefore have no resource value. Monkey pod trees are now defined as invasive, regardless of their beauty, or how many people value and enjoy them. It is a black and white judgment, prejudicial against non-natives, made by bureaucrats in Honolulu, and affecting people, plants and animals throughout the islands.

Residents watched in horror, crying for their loss, some wanting to chain themselves to the trees to save them from destruction. But the die was cast. Now sunshine beats down on this sleepy shoreline stretch of road where had once been a muted shadow from these fine trees. It looks like a big piece has been removed from a jigsaw puzzle of a tropical paradise. A nearby monkey pod, an equal companion of the ones just killed, stands nearby. Residents pray for its survival past this time of destructive environmentalism.

No matter where you live in Hawaii, this fate threatens beautiful trees near you. And with the green light from federal, state and county governments to rid the islands of politically incorrect species, the killing can happen faster than you can say chainsaw.

A current proposal to ban all non-native species from being brought into Hawaii now disgraces our state legislature, showing the extent of this insanity. If invasive species eradication interests had their way, we would spend all our time and money trying to erase the impact of hundreds of years of species introductions to these isolated islands.

The irony, of course, is that these anti-non-native species resolutions and bills are written in English. Perhaps we should follow the lead of Rep. Hanohano, who speaks to the legislature in Hawaiian and refuses to translate to the “haoles” who can’t understand her. English is non-native in Hawaii.

Cars, trucks, and airplanes are also non-native. So is Spam, MacDonalds, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Our environment is composed of more than non-native plants and animals. Modern western culture is non-native to Hawaii. So is Christianity, and democracy, and science.

It’s easy to start up a chainsaw or open a bottle of poison or put up a fence to destroy plants and animals that were introduced by non-Hawaiians. But it’s much harder to eradicate the non-Hawaiian culture. And since most of the people calling for species cleansing of all that is non-native are themselves non-native, you can be sure that they will exempt themselves from the process.

All that this crazy, destructive environmentalism can produce is grant money for those employed to cut and kill. It is a revenue maker, feeding off federal funds. It doesn’t matter to those doing this work that climate change makes restoration of “native” ecosystems an impossible dream. It doesn’t matter to them that cars, and planes, and pollution, and crowds of people, and all the realities of modern life in Hawaii will still define our islands despite small enclaves where non-native species have been removed and native species have been planted. It doesn’t matter to them that in the end we will lose our precious introduced species and natural resources.

But to the group of people living in the jungle along the sleepy Red Road in Opihikao, crying over their lost monkey pods, it did matter.

11 replies
  1. Handyman
    Handyman says:

    Aloha Hilo35,

    Syd Singer and other like minded people think nothing of the trees and plants that died when they built their houses. But they’re quick to point the finger at people who simply want to shape their private property to their idea of beautiful.

    People like Syd Singer are simply fanatical morons minding other people’s business. They’re dime a million.


  2. Mathew Mercury
    Mathew Mercury says:

    It was sad to see those old trees go, but it will be more sad to see some large mansion built in their place. That is a prime piece of land that was for sale for many years. Too bad for the locals that didn’t get their money together to build a public park. Now the new owners can do whatever they want. Hopefully they harvested part of the wood for building or crafts.

    At least there is still a gorgeous grove of native Hawaiian kamani trees just down the road!

  3. Larry Butler
    Larry Butler says:

    And this is the same man that fought the fight to protect the cockee frogs several years ago..

  4. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    Just so long as who ever builds their waterfront house doesn’t look for sympathy and community support when that wave comes crashing through their view. Karma is wet.

  5. NeighborWatch
    NeighborWatch says:

    really? checked that tree in person did ya? hmmmm

    It’s sad people will come all this way, spend loads of money to move to a beautiful remote spot, because it is, and take a wide swath to clear away that which they conceivably came to enjoy. If people want clear land why don’t they buy clear land? It’s not like there is an shortage of treeless shoreline in Puna.

    But to buy a prime, old growth, piece of land just to clear it, is poor designing at best, stupid at worst.
    It’s a shame.

  6. Billy
    Billy says:

    The land ‘owner’ screwed himself. If he’d built tree houses in the three remaining trees he’d had a forever gold mine…”Come to Hawai’i and stay in a tree house on the ocean!” Oy vey!

  7. hilojoey
    hilojoey says:

    It’s to late. So sad. You have to wonder what kind of people would do this kind of thing and why they would pick such a beautiful area to destroy. It’s done but maybe this will bring awareness so it does not happen again. I will miss the beauty every time I drive by. So sad.

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