Officials Ask for Help Identifying Those Involved in Christmas Tree Bonfires at Kāne‘ohe Bay Sandbar
Illegal tree burning in the wildlife sanctuary harms natural resources.
Editor’s note: State conservation officials say they blurred the faces in the photos of these social media posts of people at the illegal bonfires because they have found that photos which clearly identify people in controversial or illegal situations can lead to threats of bodily harm and violence against those individuals.
Illegal Christmas tree bonfires at Ahu O Laka—Kāne‘ohe Bay sandbar—sparked outrage over the weekend from state conservation officials, police and many civilians. Social media posts showed large numbers of people standing shoulder to shoulder without masks, as tree-fueled fires burned in the background.
Jason Redulla, conservation and resources enforcement chief for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, says the staff got a tip about tree burnings on Saturday. But by the time officers reached He‘eia Kea Small Boat Harbor, they found Honolulu police already on the scene and boats headed in from the sandbar. “Unfortunately, we could not identify any of the individuals involved in these illegal and disrespectful activities,” Redulla says.
The burning of trees after the holidays has been going on for years on beaches and at the sandbar for at least five years. Ahu O Laka is a wildlife sanctuary that prohibits fires. Ground and open fires also are banned on all beaches.
He adds: “People are actually hauling trees to Ahu O Laka by boat, and the burning of trees is detrimental to the sandbar and the marine surrounding ecosystem.” He reminds anyone who witnesses violations to report them:
• Call (808) 643-3567 (DLNR)
• Use the free DLNRTip app for iPhone and Android devices.