KAPAA — At least one of three seaside ironwood trees at Lae Nani Condominiums is dead after 25 holes were drilled into them and they were injected with poison, according to Kauai police and Department of Land and Natural Resources officials.
The trees, which are turning brown and gray, stand as a black eye for many residents at Lae Nani. It used to be a popular spot for many families to lay down a blanket and sit under the shade next to the beach.
Lae Nani is investigating the matter and declined to comment. KPD and DLNR have filed incident reports.
“Someone went through great lengths to poison an otherwise healthy tree along our beautiful Wailua shoreline, which now poses a danger to the public,” said Department of Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapozo. “This tree sits on county property and as a result, taxpayers will have to foot the bill to have this tree removed. It is very disappointing and it’s also a criminal act.”
TGI spoke with multiple neighbors who lived near the trees and a few Lae Nani residents who asked that their names not be published for fear of backlash from whomever poisoned the trees.
“We don’t know exactly who or how, but clearly someone took a drill and deliberately drilled holes around the base of each of the ironwood trees,” said a woman. “You can tell that they’re dead.”
One woman who lives down the street from Lae Nani knows of families that visit the grassy knoll, She told TGI she suspects the holes were drilled into the trees over the Thanksgiving weekend and oil was injected into the base of the trees.
“It’s awful,” she said. “So many families go there to hang out by the beach. Now they’ll have to take the trees down.”
Some Lae Nani residents had their suspicions on why the trees were poisoned.
“The rumor I heard was that they were blocking views and someone wanted the trees cut down and the next thing I heard, there were holes drilled into them and they were dying,” said Deanna Foushay, who helps take care of one of the condos.
The condo Foushay and her family reside in during the holidays is about 100 feet from the dead ironwood trees. She said what happened is a shame.
“I don’t think this was the correct way to go about having the trees removed if that was their purpose,” Foushay said.
Two women said that an arborist, a tree surgeon, inspected the ironwoods to see if they could be salvaged, but the damage was done.
“So whoever did this not only is causing a lot of health risks, but is also causing the county a lot of money.” said one of the women.
Sarah Blane, county spokeswoman, said the trees were poisoned and that at least one of the trees will have to be removed immediately since it is a safety hazard.
Leaves and twigs from each ironwood tree are beginning to fall, and have become an issue for beachgoers and residents, said a neighbor.
“It’s a real hazard because those trees could come down anytime,” she said.