Ironwood trees are common along coastlines.
Soft, wispy, and pine-like; these trees (also known as a casuarina) can grow to 100 feet or more in height.
“They’re beautiful. They’re part of the coastline on the east side of this island. They’re part of us!” says Waimanalo resident Terry Doyle.
So it confused some when they heard about Bellows Air Force Station’s major tree removal and trimming project. Bellows is planning to get rid of a lot of ironwood trees.
“I really don’t know…I’d hate to see them go. If they’re getting rid of them, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me,” says Doyle.
An employee at Bellows AFS confirmed the removal of 254 ironwood trees inside the station. An additional 120 will be trimmed.
The reason for the removal? Public safety.
We’re told ironwood trees can pose a safety risk to power lines, buildings… even people on the beach. Bellows already had an incident of property damage due to ironwood trees.
“I like them. They’re beautiful. But I don’t like them in Hawaii,” says Puna resident Rogerio Menescal.
Tom Idol, PhD is an associate professor of Tropical Forestry and Agroforestry at the University of Hawaii. Dr. Idol says ironwood trees are not native to Hawaii.
“They were imported. Brought into Hawaii in the late 1800s, early 1900s as part of an active re-forestation clean up long ago.”
“They do prevent local vegetation from growing,” says Menescal. “It’s a problem. I don’t like them here. I think we should try to control them and replace them with native species.”
Which is what Bellows plans on doing. They plan on “out-planting” plants native to Hawaii in place of the ironwood trees.
The major tree removal and trimming project is expected to begin before the end of November.