Public Urged Not to Remove Wood from DKI Highway Project Site
The Hawai’i Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration’s Central Federal Lands Highway Division is asking for the public to refrain from removing vegetation from one of its current Big Island project sites.
Crews are working to complete the final phase of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, which includes the realignment of the roadway from mile marker 5.6 to mile marker 11.7 west of Hilo.
Vegetation clearing operations are underway in the area, with special precautions taken to refrain from the spread of Rapid ‘Ohia Death. Crews are working to minimize the spread of the fungus, in coordination with the State of Hawai’i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, USDA Agriculture Research Service, and the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.
Efforts include sanitizing equipment and tools as they leave the work site and containing ohia as they leave the area.
The agencies report that members of the public have asked to remove some of the trees that have been stockpiled for processing within the project site, and on other occasions, individuals have removed the timber from the site.
Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death is attributed to a fungus, Ceratocystis fimbriata, that has been spreading rapidly across the Big Island.
Aerial surveys conducted in January show the disease has affected more than 34,000 acres on the island. The fungus lives inside ohia trees and can be transported with wood and untreated wood products to uninfected areas on the island.
Research efforts into the disease are ongoing, but experts say that the most immediate action to prevent the acceleration of the fungus spread is to restrict movement of infected ohia trees.