KEALIA — Kaua‘i County is in the process of planning what kind of native plants they’ll be putting along the Ke Ala Hele Makalae coastal path between Kealia Beach and Kuna Beach, now that ironwood trees illegally felled in the area have been cleared.
In November, area residents who frequently walk the coastal path along Kaua‘i’s East Side noticed major differences in the view from the path in that area — it was a lot easier to see the ocean.
Also, the shade provided by large ironwood trees that usually lined the makai side of the path was gone.
That’s because a private landowner cut down a large amount of fully grown ironwood trees that grew between the path and the ocean — an action that is technically the responsibility of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department and one that, without proper permitting, is a violation of the rules governing the special management area (SMA) where the trees were cut.
In November, DOPR representatives acknowledged they did approve the tree removal — they were approached by an area resident who volunteered to do some light trimming and vegetation containment in the area.
That resident went overboard and cut down all the ironwood trees that block the view of the ocean from several houses on the mauka side of the path — including a home that is in mid-construction currently.
After consulting with the Planning Department, DOPR said they needed a SMA permit in order to do the work that was done. A notice of violation was issued.
Wednesday, DOPR director Pat Porter said all the green waste that resulted from the project has been removed and the department is in the process of developing a site rehab plan to move forward.
The department is considering a wide variety of native species for replanting in the area.
“To date, the department has mapped the cleared area and identified species to be out-planted. Next step is to finalize the plan and present to the Planning Department for approval before implementation. The DOPR has also received additional guidance from the Planning Department regarding SMA regulations,” Porter said.
Director of Planning Kaaina Hull confirmed Wednesday the Planning Department did cite DOPR for an SMA violation, but no fines were issued.
“The required remediation for this violation requires the replacement of the cut and removed trees with mature native trees common to the area. We are currently working with the Parks Department to ensure that this replacement and re-planting happens expeditiously as possible,” Hull said.
Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.