Vandals targeting Oahu trees, wasting taxpayer money

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Residents in Mililani enjoy the monkeypod trees at Kipapa Neighborhood Park.

So why would someone want to get rid of these great green beauties? But that’s just what happened.

“I live right across the street and my family utilizes this park regularly, so I can tell you the community is very upset and disappointed by this incident,” Honolulu City Councilmember Ron Menor said.

Over the past 18 months, someone has been hacking away at the bark of the tree —  little by little killing it.

It’s called girdling and essentially cuts off the trees ability to get nutrients.

“This is the worst we’ve seen ever. Someone worked really hard to make sure this tree died. If you look at the wound, they went completely around,” said Stan Oka, with the Urban Forestry Department.

There have been nine other acts of vandalism against city trees in the past six months including one on Sierra Drive. That’s where a tree once stood and now all that’s left is dirt.

The cases started popping up in February from Waianae to Waipahu to Waimanalo.

The Mililani monkeypod tree was over 20 years old and valued at $19,000. City crews had to cut it down for public safety, all at taxpayer expense.

“This, in my mind, is a burning of money. So we not only lose a valued tree, we’re now wasting resources on something that we shouldn’t have to do,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

“It hurts our budgets in the city, hurts our parks budget when we have to redirect money towards this type of crime,” said Rep. Joey Manahan, Parks Committee Chair.

In the past, the city has charged someone with felony property damage for destroying a tree.

Anyone who catches a vandal in the act is asked to call police.

Related story: City to remove vandalized tree in Mililani

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