KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Chinese banyan trees in Kapolei that were on the chopping block have been saved, at least for now, as the State and community members work out a plan. Roosevelt Avenue is lined with a few dozen old banyan trees. There were going to be cut down soon because they diseased and dying and the last thing the State needs is a big branch falling on a car. But there is hope the trees can be nursed back to health.
These old Chinese banyan trees are invasive species. Some are infected with two different types of destructive pests. They were just days away from being chopped down. So why the urge to save them?
"They have helped over the years to define the character of this community," said Marti Townsend, The Outdoor Circle Executive Director. "We know that the Kapolei area needs more trees not less and so we really want to throw down and protect as many older trees as possible."
In 2001 the Navy handed the land and trees to the State. The Outdoor Circle says when that happened the trees stopped getting water which made them susceptible to disease and pests which are killing them. The state planned to cut them all down because of the public safety risk, but now have found middle ground and are consulting the Outdoor Circle before the chain saws are fired up.
"We appreciate they are willing to reconsider this death sentence for these trees," said Townsend.
They concede some trees may be too much of a hazard to save, but other with proper irrigation could recover.
"The trees were made more vulnerable due to the lack of water so if we can water them and make them stronger and preserve them in place I think everyone benefits," said Townsend.
Who will pay for the irrigation system and the water bill is yet to be determined, but for now the trees on Roosevelt Avenue are still standing tall.
The state says it doesn't want to cut down the trees, but if it does it will work with the community on replacement trees. However it will not be the same invasive Chinese banyan.