This morning, members of the community, Aha Moku o Kaʻanapali and Save Honolua Coalition board, went on a walk through of the Honolua valley trail and had a sit down with DLNR agents from the Land, DOCARE and DOFAW divisions regarding the tree cutting along the trail.
We learned that the contract was for removal of the invasive java plum 30’ on either side of the walking trail due to the invasive nature of java plum and the large branches made heavier by the vines that had been falling along the trail. Money had been appropriated by the legislature for the management of Honolua and since the State purchase of the property, once they are made aware of a hazard they must take action. The money was available since FY17-18 and had to be encumbered by the end of June 2018, although the project was not assigned to the land division until the last few months.
Certified arborists made the recommendations on the scope and nature of the contract from a safety perspective and three bids were required, by law the State must choose the lowest bidder. Chipping of the large logs were not a part of the contract because DLNR believed that would have cost more than the amount of money they had.
Since the State acquisition of the Honolua parcel, there have been a few meetings with the community. The earliest that I remember was a few years back at Lahaina Intermediate School and DLNR did say that for safety reasons they were looking into signage, tree trimming along the trail and some type of barricade to keep cars from going over the cliff at the surfer’s access. It is very clear that there should have been more details provided regarding the tree trimming. The reality as explained by DLNR, is that they simply do not have the budget to trim regularly and thus felt their best option was to either clear cut or close the trail.
In response to what has happened recently, the Save Honolua Coalition board has two main concerns:
1. We want more engagement, participation and understanding of the process and procedures of the planning and management of Honolua with DLNR. Our community values communication and having a relationship with the land/ocean/river and with DLNR. We believe the gap can be bridged by having regularly scheduled meetings on a quarterly basis – whether there is something in particular to discuss or not we want the public to be able to check in. We also realize that meeting does not mean that the community will always get their way and at times we may need to agree to disagree. We hope that DLNR Director Case and Governor Ige can see the value in this and can direct staff (preferably on-island) to accomodate that schedule.
2. We believe it is important to take immediate steps toward an interim fix to mitigate the soil hazard since the canopy is no longer there in a large area of the trail there is less precipitation interception and the direct impact of the rain hitting the ground could create runoff into this Marine Life Conservation District. We would like to see the large logs that have been left in place and that do not demarcate the trail, be chipped and spread throughout the area that has lost it’s canopy. We would also like to see a buffer zone of native plants such as ʻaʻaliʻi and ʻākia to be planted along the streambed with an appx 15’ setback. We see this as an interim fix and a part of the larger management plan which should incorporate the planting of more native plants in the opened up area.