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Hazardous Albizia Removal Begins June 18

June 18, 2018, 8:31 AM HST (Updated June 18, 2018, 8:31 AM)
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Arborists will begin removing hazardous albizia trees along Maku‘u Drive in Kea‘au on Monday, June 18, 2018.

Area residents are advised to avoid Maku‘u Drive when practical and expect single-lane closures or detours in sections over the next two months.

The planned route runs about two miles, from Railroad Avenue to Highway 130. Trees will be removed up to 100 meters from either side of the road, with the cooperation of more than 85 property owners.

As with other routes in East Hawai‘i, after the initial cut, trees farther from the road will be left standing and will be treated with a small dose of herbicide. These trees will slowly fall apart, dropping large branches. No one should walk, play, or spend time under live or dead albizia.

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Maku‘u Drive was severely impacted by fallen albizia after Tropical Storm Iselle in 2014. It is privately owned by HPPOA, but links a County Emergency Access Road (Railroad Avenue) with the state highway. This linkage made it the only private road included in the island’s Albizia Hazard Mitigation Plan (2015). The mitigation plan focuses on 18 of the largest roads and power lines impacted by albizia, and is a joint project of the Big Island Invasive Species Committee (BIISC), Big Island Resource, Conservation & Development Council, Hawai‘i Department of Transportation, Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works and the US Forest Service.

Gov. David Ige released a state grant-in-aid to local nonprofit Big Island RC&D to fund the project. Work will be coordinated and supervised by BIISC.

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