Sunday, January 21, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, January 21, 2001

Trees in Kailua poisoned, arborist says

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

KAILUA - Someone is killing trees at an Alala Point landscape project, where at least 13 trees are dying and others are suffering.

"They looked as though they’ve been poisoned," said Chris Snyder, an arborist from The Outdoor Circle.
Ironwood trees, left, are dying near the entrance to Lanikai above Kailua Beach Park. Members of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle say poison was used to kill the trees, which were planted as part of a landscaping project at Alala Point.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The dying trees are all in one area at the Kailua Beach lookout. Eleven ironwood trees, 20 to 30 feet tall, are in various stages of death, yellowing and brown. Two palm trees are suffering the same fate.

Snyder said she was called to the scene three weeks ago and saw the telltale signs of ground poisoning. In a circle around the base of the trees, everything was dead. Outside the circle, the ground cover flourished. Now just weeks later, some of the trees are dead. Poison is the only thing that can act so quickly, she said.

Snyder said the apparent poisoning could point to a problem experienced islandwide.

"Most often what we’re seeing with these scenarios is people who have issues with the view from their private homes and that causes a conflict with a tree," Snyder said.

She said she hasn’t seen tree poisoning before but has seen other methods used to kill trees.

Neighbors said some homeowners didn’t approve of planting ironwoods at the lookout because they don’t match the trees growing there, and others said the lookout was a haven for the homeless and errant youth. But no one said they had seen anything out of the ordinary happening in the vicinity of the trees.

Bill and Pam Dunn said some have complained about the trees blocking the view, but considered the grievances part of human nature.

"You can’t make everybody happy," Bill Dunn said.

Lynn Ranta said she’s more concerned about the fire hazard created by dry plants in the summer and kids partying at Alala Point on weekends.

Eight years ago Alala Point was a dump, filled with tons of trash, including car parts and weeds.

The Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle and the Kailua Chamber of Commerce decided to host the first Kailua Town Party to raise money to improve the area. The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the city and many Windward residents pitched in to complete the $120,000 project.

Lyn Turner, president of the Lani-Kailua Outdoor Circle, said the project was initiated to improve Kailua for everyone’s enjoyment and it’s difficult to see all the good work and effort destroyed.

The point has had other problems since it was refurbished in 1993, including people stealing parts of the watering system, dumping trash and crashing into benches with automobiles.

"This was a deliberate act and by far the worst," Turner said.

The city will restore the area by removing the dead trees and replacing them with other plants, said Carol Costa, city spokeswoman.

She said the city will choose salt-tolerant plants that can endure the harsh environment "and plants that will not get as tall as the trees have in the past."

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