The 131-year-old Lahaina banyan tree covers about two-thirds of an acre.

Lahaina’s famed banyan
tree gets a rest

LAHAINA » Maui County officials are giving one of the largest banyan trees in the state a vacation from commercial activities at least one weekend a month.

The 131-year-old Lahaina Banyan Tree is doing "really well" compared with its condition five years ago when some of its top leaves were turning brown during a drought, said arborist committee member Terry Nutt.

But Nutt said committee members feel the tree would do better to have no commercial activity at least one weekend a month, so that there would be a reduction in foot traffic, tree climbing and ground compaction.

Based on the arborist committee's recommendation, the Maui County Cultural Resources Commission voted Thursday to eliminate commercial activities under the tree on the fourth weekend of the month and also reduce the number of arts and crafts booths to 25 from 50.

Under the previous arrangement, two nonprofit groups, Lahaina Arts Society and Na Kupuna O Maui, alternated the weekend use of the site.

Maui county planner Dawn Duensing said the officials will be meeting with the two groups to discuss a new schedule.

Cultural Resources Commission member Lisa Rotunno-Hazuka said the commission was also worried about continuing to allow commercial weekend activities under the tree by two groups in a historic district.

"We feel that the park is for everybody," she said.

The tree, mauka of Lahaina Harbor and the Old Lahaina Courthouse, was planted in 1873 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Protestant missionaries arriving in Lahaina. It covers about two-thirds of an acre and stands 50 to 60 feet high.



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