Not addressing the main reason for public outcry was a flaw in the June 9 Viewpoint, "Realities of Ulua Project Offered," concerning the Ulua/Mokapu tree removal tragedy in the previously well-shaded county beach parking lot.
Maui County, Code of Ordinances Title 12, Chapter 12.24A, Section 12.24.030 - Maui County Arborist Committee, under C, #2, states: "The committee shall serve as a reviewing body for any landscape planting in public parks and street beautification programs."
This ordinance was ignored by the county's departments of Parks & Recreation and Planning. If the landscape plans for the Maui County Ulua/Mokapu public beach park, including the parking area, were reviewed by the Maui County Arborist Committee as stated by the ordinance in 2005 and 2009 during the SMA permit process, the Maui County Arborist Committee would have had the opportunity to support saving the beneficial, large, 40-year-old healthy shade trees during the review. The Maui County Arborist Committee members are very tree knowledgeable with a variety of backgrounds.
After reading the documents that were sent to me from the Maui County Planning Department from 2005 and 2009, no mention was found about the large monkeypod shade trees. No person or department mentioned the potential loss of these public trees.
This is a county park, including the parking lot. The trees were a part of the urban forest. The definition of an urban forest is all trees in the community including park trees, street trees, parking lot trees and trees on private property.
Yes, the Wailea Community Association maintains the trees in the park, street trees and surrounding areas in Wailea, which saves the county money. But let's talk about the trees in Wailea and how they are overly pruned. The trees are pruned so high up and the tree crown reduced so severely - presumably to limit leaf and seed drop. Will this happen to the new milo trees planted in the parking area of Ulua/Mokapu beach? The Viewpoint writer mentioned that these trees will give the same benefit as the large trees that were removed.
Milo trees have potential heights of 25 feet and the crown spread of 25 feet if properly maintained and pruned correctly with International Society of Arboriculture standards. Milo trees will drop leaves and pumpkin-shaped seeds. Let's compare the milo to the removed monkeypod trees, which grow up to 50 feet with a crown spread of 80 feet. Monkeypods do also drop seeds and leaves, and both species of trees are considered medium maintenance. The milo trees will never reach the height of the monkeypod trees.
The Viewpoint writer didn't mention that the condominium owners next door to the beach parking area were willing to donate three or four field stock monkeypod trees, including all the cost of planting the trees to the county so the trees could provide the benefits which were lost to the residents at the condominium and to the beach users when the monkeypods were brought down. There are about three or four large planting areas where the monkeypods could have been planted in the parking area. The landscape plans showed root barrier usage which would prevent roots from uplifting the pavement. The proposal was refused by the county administration without even trying to work on a solution to this tragedy that could have been prevented if a county ordinance had not been ignored.
Let's not forget that the county personnel are stewards of the county property. The community is the county. The community puts its trust in the people who work for the county to look out for the best interest of the community.
Please let your county officials know that all reasonable efforts should be made to save, care and add to our urban forest. Let's start with correcting the Ulua/Mokapu beach parking area tragedy.
* Elaine Malina is the president of the Maui Outdoor Circle and has been an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist since 1997. She lives in Kihei.