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From the State Capitol to Honolulu Hale. From the headquarters of Hawaii’s Big Five Companies to the Makiki shop owner and just about every other corner of Hawai‘i government and business those seven little words “Have you talked to The Outdoor Circle” have been repeated countless times.
But it was exactly the opposite, not talking to The Outdoor Circle, that landed the Department of Transportation (DOT) in a negative light with the cutting and removal of hundreds of trees on the H-2 Freeway.
The massive tree removal began at the end of June and prompted dozens of telephone complaints to our office. We are usually consulted prior to a removal action of this magnitude but unfortunately that didn’t happen this time.
We prefer to have the opportunity to have trees assessed by qualified arborists to determine if they are structurally hazardous or if their locations present a threat to motorists. We did not have the opportunity to do that in this instance and were as surprised as those traveling on H-2 when the work began.
DOT has used every excuse in the book for removing these trees. Scott Ishikawa, the department’s spokesperson, said that a tree limb fell on their emergency call box prompting the clear cutting. In their press release DOT also said they cut down the Albizia, Opiuma and Christmas Berry trees because they were invasive. We believe there are far too many trees of these types classified as invasive species to ever remove them from Hawaii’s landscape, nor would the public stand for that.
It should be stated that The Outdoor Circle is not for saving hazardous trees and had DOT told us in advance and allowed us to walk the site we might have agreed that some number needed to be removed. But 70-100 trees? We think not!
The DOT has promised to replant the area with native trees by the end of the year. You have our promise that we will be reminding them of that promise regularly. And by the way, DOT also has promised to call The Outdoor Circle before taking on a project of this magnitude again.