- Associated Press - Saturday, February 6, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Two lawmakers are pushing legislation that would deal with invasive albizia trees, thousands of which fell and caused damage during Tropical Storm Iselle in August 2014.

Puna Democrat Sen. Russell Ruderman and Kailua Kona Democrat Rep. Nicole Lowen have proposed companion bills that call for trees to be removed from areas from highway rights of way while treating those that are nonhazardous with a pesticide, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1STXc37).

The $5 million in funding for the plan would apply only to controlling the invasive tree on Hawaii Island.

“What we are learning from our current research is that these control actions with albizia will work, either by cutting and herbiciding all of it or some of it, and killing nonhazard trees when you can,” said U.S. Forest Service ecologist Flint Hughes. “If and when you’re able to do that, the techniques employed now are effective - not only in killing them, but in maintaining those areas as albizia free.”

Both bills had their first readings Jan. 27 and are not yet scheduled for committee hearings.

“I think, unfortunately, that the DLNR is being especially squeezed right now as a matter of change in policy, and I think that is absolutely wrong,” Ruderman said. “There is this anti-environmental attitude among the people running things right now. It’s not only wrong, but foolhardy.”

The weak and brittle trees that fell during the 2014 storm caused damage to homes, closed off roadways and cut power to many Puna residents. Ruderman said Puna has been the most impacted by albizia, but that the trees can grow in any neigh borhood.

“If we don’t control it,” he said, “we are doomed to repeat this tragedy innumerable times.”


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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