Tree Controversy Settled - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tree Controversy Settled

Mary Steiner Mary Steiner

By Mary Simms

MILILANI (KHNL) -- Some resolution Thursday to the tree controversy on the H-2 freeway in central O'ahu.

Members of "The Outdoor Circle," an Oahu environmental group, and representatives from the state department of transportation, meet along the H-2 to discuss the fate of these albizia trees.

The state started cutting down trees in June, but the project was put on hold when the outdoor circle complained.

"I think in hindsight we could have notified The Outdoor Circle about the tree removal, I think a lot of the animosity wouldn't have taken place because of that," said Department of Transportation spokesperson Scott Ishikawa.

The DOT says it's concerned the trees are a threat to drivers below.

"They're kinda problematic tress to us because when the branches get really wide they tend to snap," added Ishikawa.

But these environmentalists worry they may remove too much.

"We want to make sure that the trees that are hazards do get removed and the trees that are not get to stay," said CEO Mary Steiner of The Outdoor Circle.

More than forty trees have already been removed, another twenty-five trimmed back. Together, both groups inspect all the remaining trees.

"I think both sides agree its all in the matter of safety. We're going to try to strike a balance between safety and aesthetics as well," said Ishikawa.

"Trees that are hazardous must be removed, trees that are diseased, must go down, but we also think the Department of Transportation should have a commitment to replanting and maintaining our highways to be much more beautiful than they are," said Steiner.

So far, both sides have agreed on the fate of most of the trees. And, the state says it will replant native hawaiian trees in the place of any of the invasive, albizia they remove.

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