Sustainability Environment

Hawaiians told not to burn Christmas trees on popular sandbar

A person walks along a sandbar in Kaneohe Bay near Kaneohe, Hawaii, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.  (Associated Press photo/Caleb Jones)

Story at a glance

  • Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources has ordered residents to refrain from burning their Christmas trees on an Oahu sandbar.
  • The popular sandbar is located between the Pacific Ocean and Kaneohe Bay.
  • The agency has said that the bonfires are devastating the marine ecosystem.

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources has ordered residents to refrain from burning their Christmas trees on a popular Oahu sandbar. 

In years past, people have gathered at the sandbar nestled between the open Pacific Ocean and Kaneohe Bay to burn their Christmas trees in a bonfire. However, the state’s land agency has warned it is causing environmental damage.

“People haul their trees to Ahu O Laka by boat and burning them is detrimental to the sandbar and the surrounding marine ecosystem,” Hawaii’s environmental law enforcement chief, Jason Redulla, said in a press release.


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This sentiment was echoed by the president of the Ko’olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, who highlighted the environmental impact as well as the land’s sacred meaning to Native Hawaiians.

“Ahu o Laka is a sacred place,” Leialoha “Rocky” Kaluhiwa said. “The [remains] of Chief Laka of Maui were brought by his sons and buried there centuries ago. Once iwi is buried in an area, it is consecrated and considered ‘kapu’, or sacred to Native Hawaiians. We strongly discourage anyone from taking their ‘opala (discarded items like Christmas trees) to light bonfires on Ahu o Laka.” 

People found disregarding the law will face fines and arrest.


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