Updated: Ranch Cuts More Than Just Jobs
Molokai Ranch communications manager John Sabas said they are cutting "older trees that aren’t doing so well." However, many of the palms, including the one pictured, were bountiful with coconuts, healthy, and thriving.
Destructive measures in the wake of closure.
Photo and Story By Brandon Roberts
Kaluakoi residents awoke Wednesday to the sound of rain and falling coconut palms. Up to 30 trees have been killed to make barriers around the golf course, and this has many Molokai residents wondering why.
“This is just so sad, it looks like a war-zone with all the beautiful trees down,” said Jody Canady, Ke Nani Kai resident of 27 years. “They could have at least had the courtesy to tell us.”
She believes that Molokai Ranch is doing this as retribution for the failure of the La`au development.
Canady's husband Darryl, former president of the West Molokai Association, said that the Ranch shutdown and subsequent hacking of healthy trees has been a “festering, ongoing, and growing situation for many years.” Mrs. Canady added that the horrible situation has hope, “it brings us together in the community.”
The Canady’s echoed many West End residents’ sentiments that what respect the Ranch and Peter Nicholas may have had has all but disappeared. One resident of 18 years said that they should be put in jail.
“When the La`au proposal started, I gave the Ranch the benefit of the doubt, but it divided the community, and when I saw Peter Nicholas get ugly, I said, 'this is not the way a business person should act, this is wrong'. I did not respect the way Nicholas treated the members of the community,” Canady said with sadness.
“Walter Ritte was wonderful today,” Canady said. She made a phone call to Ritte, a community leader against the La`au development, the night before to express her concern and emotions about the destruction on the West End.
Ritte told communications manager John Sabas that he would bring the Ranch all the kiawe trees they wanted to barricade the vacant golf course. However, Sabas reportedly said he preferred to use the coconuts.
“They just don’t care, not one ounce,” expressed an emotional Carol Harms, Kaluakoi resident. She pointed toward a standing group of dead coconut trees wondering why live palms were used instead to make the ineffective barriers.
Historically in Hawaii, it was an act of war and disrespect to cut down coconut palms. The trees are a source of life, producing food, water, shade, and holding precious land from erosion.
The Hawaiian Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement said it was on private property and out of their jurisdiction.
"The Ranch is lacking aloha," said Representative Mele Carroll. "It is not about private property, this is our home. It shows where their heart is."
Meanwhile, in Maunaloa, the swimming pool at The Lodge, which just last week held blue waters and happy vacationers, is now full of sand. The Lodge itself has been wrapped in hog fencing, and many now wonder if this is a new definition of “mothballing”.
Many questions arise as to the legality of recent Ranch activities. Did the Ranch need permits for these actions? The back-filling of the pool and the chopping of a healthy Norfolk pine next to the Lodge to clear a path for a dump truck to access the pool, as well as the killing of vibrant coconut palms are all questionable. Many on Molokai are empty and in pain, wondering what motives and intent the Ranch has behind their destructive and disrespectful actions.