State, Hawaii County team up to tackle albizia in Puna

Published On: Feb 24 2014 03:09:02 PM HST
Albizia trees
HILO, Hawaii -

The State's Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and the County of Hawaii's Department of Public Works are teaming up Feb. 26 through 28 to remove invasive albizia trees along Upper Puna Road.

State and county crews are working in coordination with the Big Island Invasive Species Committee's (BIISC) Albizia Demonstration Project in Keau'ohana State Forest Reserve and Black Sands Subdivision, of lower Puna. Albizia trees within 100 ft. of the road, endangering motorists, will be cut down, then chipped and returned to the forest or, for larger trees, removed.

BIISC will follow-up by applying herbicide to stumps and nonhazardous trees using methods developed with the University of Hawaii extension program and the US Forest Service.

By teaming up, crews will be able to cover both county and state right-of-ways and synchronize their efforts.

"This project demonstrates how all stakeholders, government, private sector, and residents, can work together to manage the albizia problem in more cost effective ways," said BIISC Manager Springer Kaye.

The state and county tree work will be done from 8 a.m. through 2 p.m., starting from the intersection of Upper Puna Road and Highway 130, extending 0.3 miles along Upper Puna Road.  Motorists are advised to expect intermittent delays on Upper Puna Road during these times and to take the alternate route of One 'Ele'Ele Road to access Black Sands Subdivision.

According to Ecologist Flint Hughes, with the U.S. Forest Service, "Albizia, or Falcataria moluccana, is a statewide ecological and public safety problem.  Albizia's rapid and pervasive growth destroys native forests by shading out native plants and improving conditions other invasive flora, such as strawberry guava. On top of that, the tree’s brittle branches and shallow roots easily break in wind or rain, then fall on homes, roads, and power lines."

The 500-acre Albizia Demonstration Project area in Puna includes trees overhanging homes and roads, as well as in native lowland forest.  Kaye explains, "Stakeholders identified this area of Puna as a case study to showcase the wide range of issues in albizia control, develop best management practices, and empower communities to limit the spread of these menacing trees in their own neighborhoods."

Since December, BIISC has held three Community Training Workshops, where the public learned how to safely and effectively use herbicide to kill albizia trees not threatening infrastructure.  The next Community Training Workshops will be held during the Hawai'i Invasive Species Awareness Week, from 9 a.m. through 2 p.m., at various locations in East Hawai'i.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - Puainako St. Extension, Waiakea - Meeting place: 1.5 miles mauka of Komohana Ave. on south side of street

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - Wainuenue Ave., Hilo - Meeting place: Carvalho Park upper parking lot

Thursday, March 6, 2014 - Puainako St. Extension, Waiakea - Meeting Place: 1.5 miles mauka of Komohana Ave. on south side of street

Saturday, March 8, 2014 - Black Sand Subdivision, Puna - Intersection of Hwy. 130 and Upper Puna Road on west side of highway

For more information on Community Training Workshops, please contact BIISC at 933-3340.

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