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Eucalyptus, pine tree removal in Piiholo

Eucalyptus and pine trees will be removed from the upper parking lot of the Kahakapao Recreation Area beginning next week. Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources photo

The Maui News

More than 40 eucalyptus and pine trees in hazardous locations are scheduled for removal by the state by spring, with the first dozen set to come down next week in the Makawao State Forest Reserve.

About a dozen pine and eucalyptus trees as tall as 70 feet high that surround the upper parking lot of the Kahakapao Recreation Area will be assessed and flagged for removal Sunday to Feb. 29, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources announced Monday.

Land Prep LLC is the contractor for the estimated $19,500 project.

The upper parking lot will be closed for the project to ensure contractor and public safety. The rest of the forest reserve, including the lower parking lot and recreation area, will remain open to the public.

A supplemental hazardous tree removal project also will take place in the area to the south in the Waihou Springs State Forest Reserve. This job involves the removal of about 30 pine and eucalyptus trees. These trees are located within the forest reserve and located near both Olinda and Piiholo roads.

The DLNR forestry division plans to contract and complete this project by late spring to avoid the bat pupping season, which occurs from June 1 to Sept. 15. This project is anticipated to cost between $35,000 and $55,000.

The 186-acre Waihou Spring Forest Reserve, established by governor’s proclamation in 1909 for protecting the resources of Waihou Spring, is one of the few perennial springs on the west slope of Haleakala.

There have been two previous state hazardous removal projects in the same area completed in the past two years that ended with the removal of about 40 trees, DLNR said.

Falling trees, particularly eucalyptus trees, in the Piiholo-Olinda area have been a problem for years. In April 2017, a 70-foot eucalyptus tree came crashing down on a Makawao man’s truck as he was heading home on Piiholo Road. The tree, which was not on county property, fell just inches away from the cab. The driver was treated at the hospital and released.

Then-Mayor Alan Arakawa issued an emergency proclamation to have hundreds of dead eucalyptus trees removed from county right-of-ways in 2017. Area residents had been complaining about dying non-native eucalyptus trees in the area that were being attacked by insects and falling on the road. The trees also are prone to falling during storms even if healthy.

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