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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.


10 Responses to “Updated: Ranch Cuts More Than Just Jobs”

  1. AlanFHall says:

    I have been thinking more about the violence at Kaluakoi.

    I look at the situation from the point of view of having practiced law since 1974.

    The open and notorious facts relating to the destruction of the Trees at Kaluakoi lead me to believe that there is a prima facie legal theory on which a law suit could be based.

    Prima facie simply means there are facts in existence from which a jury might possibly find wongdoing and award damages. The name of this legal theory is Corporate Environmental Terrorism and it is an intentional tort.

    Who am I? I am a lawyer. My homepage is AlanFHall.com and my email is alnfhall@hotmail.com. I live in Edmonds, Washington and own a house in Ranch Camp.

    When I first saw Molokai, it was love at first sight. I have swum her oceans, hiked her trails and simply marveled at her people and the land.

    I believe you have a lawsuit.

    The facts are open and notorious.

    You have a legal theory in which to place your facts. Again the theory is corpoate environmental terrorism. You have jurisdiction. The case will most likely be tried in Hawaii.

    Environmental terrorism could be defined as degrading nature for no other purpose than vengence or to advance a particular position during negotiations.

    You have damages. How much value would a jury give you for the loss of the emotioal joy you experienced when you viewed those trees. Or the suffering you are now going thru at the thought of their loss. This is just one example. A skilled lawyer will develop all aspects.

    Is any of this guaranteed? Not at all. You may lose, you may win. It is too early to put a percentage on your chances.

    But whether you lose or win you will raise a hew and cry for all the world to hear. But this is just a consequence of your law suit. It is not the end objective.

    Your objective is to win and win big. You want damages for intentional wrongful behavior. What damages? It remains to be seen. I would not be bashful in asking the jury for $200,000,000 in this case. Whether the jury would award this kind of money at this point is speculative.

    What to do next? Form a woking group of people who really care about this issue and find a lawyer.

    I would suggest you start with a pro bono group such as the Sierra Club or the Wilderness society. Also you might consider Robert F. Kennedy’s outfit. I believe their name is the Environmental Defense Fund.

    If that does not work, then look to a contingent fee arrangement with an established high power personal injury firm. Those type of peoople are the only ones who have the gumption to stand up to this type of situation.

    I will do what I can and I am looking forward to meeting like minded people.

    In the meantime you should start gathering evidence. Do everything legally. Do not tresspass, do not threaten and do no violence of any kind or nature.

    Take pictures, take statements of peoople who know about the facts. Think about what you can show and tell a jury. Accumulate the evidence neatly and protect it so you can turn it over to your lawyer.

    Find people who are physically affected by this outrage.

    No matter what, as horrible as what you are going through is, you must understand that in a sense you have already won. Think about it. Compare your negotiation behaior to that of the other side. They committed a horible affront to humanity and to nature.

    What they did is un-american. It is worse than that, It was un-Hawaiian. It viiolated the sacred spirit of Aloha trust.

    What would one of those old Hawaiian Kings have done if someone cut down a beatiful Coconut Palm. Think about it and know that you are the King.

    Alan F. Hall

  2. hoolehuamoon says:

    There seems to be a pattern…The Ranch has a need and they fail to consider alternatives, as with their Master plan, as with their decision to “mothball”. Instead, they make choices regardless of how others feel. True, private land owners have rights, but on Molokai, we have a special ethical code we live by, that makes Molokai unique, and allows aloha to flourish. There were other options, the people, plain, simple folks, volunteered to bring alternative barricade materials, I know people who would have come and transplanted the plants/trees and given them good homes. It took James Millar and his staff a lot of hard work and water to make that golf course come alive again. So sad to see it ruined, no matter what the motive or intention. It seems wasteful, just like all the stuff theyre throwing away at the dump – brand new things, still packaged! Blankets, dishes, furniture, etc. People have suggested making donations to Salvation Army, MOC, or allowing the staff to take stuff home, or even piling it each day at the Maunaloa park so residents can help themselves and make use at least. No, instead, they prefer to fill our landfill with their “rubbish” that still has a lot of use left. Theyʻd rather see it at the dump, than allow the people of this island to squeeze any blessings out of them. But, thats their right. They can do whatever they like. So beware the next time you hear them say the have the communityʻs best interest at heart, that they listen, that they consider what is best for everyone, that they care. Just be aware…

  3. halemalu says:

    our thriftshop needs these things badly. specially bedding and towels. whenever something still usable comes in there are plenty needy families to snatch it up. but they rather throw it out? they are sooo out of touch with peoples’ needs here, so bad that it would be impossible for a rich person to integrate into our community…

  4. AlanFHall says:

    There comes a time in a man’s life when he must stand up. The cutting of the coconut palms at Kaluakoi on the Island of Molokai in the month of April and year 2008 is one of those times.

    Please help me remember some great poetic lines so appropiate to this situation:

    It is an ancient Mariner,
    And he stoppeth one of Three,
    “By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
    Now Wherefore stopp’st thou me?”

    Thus begins Coleridge’s great tale of the sea and man’s relationsdhip with nature and thus begins a new tale when the knaves chopped down those palms.

    We saw it happen in Irag during war. We see it happen on purpose, as with the Kaluakoi Trees. We saw it happen accidentaly as in the Exxon Alaska oil spill.

    If it happens on purpose it is environmental terrorism whether it happens as a war act or by some corporate entity reeking vengence by destroying there own property. Kaluakoi was no less than environmental terrorism by a private entity against people who happened to disagree.

    But, it was much more than that. It was a statement against all humanity and in particular against all those who live on Molokai, even those who agreed.

    The outrageous act of destruction is also a message.
    A message from the owners of the property. Molokaians unite. You are in for a fight. Do not be surprised if they salt the land next. But you will win. You must organize. You must have clear goals. You must have a vision. It will not be easy and it may not be worth it for those who are alive today. More probably than not it will be worh it for your descendants.

    The issue you are confronted with is no less important than freedom and liberty. It is the issue raised in Coleririge’s poem and that issue is man’s relationship with nature. This is a universal issue that is relevant in any time. But in our time it is more relvant than ever.

    The world will be watching this drama unfold. This issue has broader implications than you can imagine.

    Alan F. Hall

  5. lokelo says:

    It is their property to do with it what they want, but these people are SICK! What will they do next, torch the tentalos at the beach village?

  6. halemalu says:

    legal isn’t always moral. moral and immoral has a bigger impact on those around us than “legal” and “illegal”. the cutting down of a bunch of trees may be a trivial thing to some, but this act shows us the character of those who own/manage that ranch.
    there are people who belong on this special island, and others who don’t. they are like elephants in a china shop, trampling on our culture and our environment, treating the island like a piece of real estate, a mere commodity, not like the living aina to be cherished and respected.

  7. friendlyguy says:

    Wow! As an outsider I have refrained from offering an opinion on this entire matter. However, what they did to those trees shows that any community, anywhere in the world, would be MUCH better off without people with that type of mentality living or working in the community. They are either stupid or vindictive beyond rehabilitation: and either way, you are surely, SURELY!, better off without them and/or their business ventures.

  8. Francobenz says:

    When you have a dictator in place this is what happens. The “wannabe” king is unhappy and wants to starve the people. All this “wannabe” has is title to the land, but as each day passes the wannabe loses his power and the people see him and his subjects for what they really are, selfish & rude. Now they will make the earth bleed to punish the people but mother earth will regrow and heal herself and might even repay the destruction with a little revenge. Be stong people of Molokai, this dictator will pass in time and the island will heal.And the land will return to the people. I promise. Keep the spirit of Aloha alive for your future, God Bless.

  9. halemalu says:

    i am so depressed right now. my only hope is that those who did this will experience “what goes around comes around”. it seems that to some people this vile act was something trivial, but it really is a sign of something sinister. i hope this makes news all the way to the mainland papers.

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