Nine young trees along a residential roadway in Mililani were destroyed “in a senseless act of destruction” by a vandal or vandals, the city said.
The Silver trumpet, Pak lan and Tulipwood trees were destroyed earlier this week along Anania Drive between Meheula Parkway and Lanikuhana Avenue.
“Many of the trees destroyed this week were nearly established and already showed signs of maturation,” the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation’s Division of Urban Forestry said in a news release today.
The total monetary loss is estimated at $15,750 as each tree cost approximately $1,750 to purchase, install and maintain.
The trees were among 34 planted as part of a planting effort that began in May 2018 and continued in May 2020.
Photos show clean cuts at the base of the trees suggesting a vandal or vandals used tools and that “the vandalism was potentially more than a random act of stupidity,” the city said.
Though the criminal act is disheartening, arborists with the Division of Urban Forestry plan to replant the trees and may plant more trees in the area.
It is illegal to damage any city tree, tree stake or guard. Violators face a fine of up to a $500 fine and/or up to six months in jail. Witnesses are asked to call 911.
Department of Parks and Recreation spokesman Nate Serota said that the Mililani case was probably the most egregious case of tree vandalism he has seen.
”We typically see one or a few young trees vandalized at a given time,” he said over email. “But not nine in one location at one time.”
Trees from a planting in October 2021 in Chinatown have also experienced vandalism over time. The planting started with 44 trees, but the city has seen significant damage to those trees over the last year as, to date, 25 have been vandalized, requiring 24 tree replacements. The city was able to rehabilitate one of the damaged trees.
Similar to the Mililani case, each tree cost about $1,750 each to replace for a total of $42,000 for replacements.
The city currently does not track tree vandalism cases specifically, but hopes to incorporate that statistic into its tree service requests.
Over the last six years, the general vandalism costs to city parks peaked at $351,800 in 2020, dropping to $315,042 in 2021.
However, those costs have been generally on the rise from about $201,600 in 2017 to $339,400 in 2022, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
These costs do not take into account extreme cases of vandalism such as the 2017 arson case at Kaiaka Bay Beach Park, which cost $337,000.
The city is a little over half-way to its goal of planting 100,000 trees by 2025, according to its website.