Outcry saved Kula’s jacaranda trees
What ever happened to the jacaranda trees that workers on a Kula Highway project started digging up before a community uproar halted the development three years ago?
Answer: Kula resident Barbara Long said all six trees in front of her property are doing fine, thanks to quick action to save the trees' roots.
She said the state and highway contractor followed the recommendations of arborist Ernie Rezents on how to save the trees, including the use of topsoil to cover the roots that had been exposed during the construction.
"We were lucky because it rained a lot the next year, and the trees have survived," she said. "I expect they will be bursting out to bloom in the next couple of months."
The community was bursting with anger in 2003 when a state contractor cut into the trees along a 2-mile stretch of road near Keokea to create paved swales and improve the drainage.
"The machines were just gouging the trunks out of the trees," Long said. "One had a huge bite out of the trunk."
The jacaranda tree is native to such places as Brazil, but it has become a part of Kula's rural landscape.
Some residents and visitors travel to Kula in the spring to view the purple blooms on the trees.
Kula residents, the Maui Outdoor Circle and the Maui Bicycle Association rallied to halt the development until a plan was implemented that would accommodate the presence of the trees.
Fred Cajigal, state highways district engineer on Maui, said the state and contractor made the adjustments after meeting with the residents.
"We worked with the community and pretty much met their recommendations, and they were happy about it," he said.
Long said she hoped everyone learned some lessons from the experience.
"I think everybody gained a healthier respect for trees," she said.
This update was written by reporter Gary T. Kubota.
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