Office of the Governor News Release: ANNUAL TREE BONFIRES AT AHU O LAKA DETERRED BY DOCARE PATROLS

Posted on Jan 10, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

(HONOLULU) – For the first time in several years, the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) did not receive any reports of illegal Christmas tree bonfires at Ahu o Laka (Kāne’ohe Bay sandbar).

DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “We believe the complete absence of any post-holiday tree fires is a result of our proactive approach in letting would-be burners know that they will be cited or arrested if caught engaging in this activity at the sandbar.”

Officers on jet skis and on an enforcement boat did “preventative” patrols all weekend, which has normally been the time when people load up trees, haul them to the sandbar, pile them up, and light them on fire.

DOCARE Officer Jason Lee participated in the weekend patrols. He pointed out, “The burning of these trees on the sandbar, or anywhere on a beach in Hawai‘i is not only against the law but causes water pollution. Residents living along Kāne’ohe Bay have reported ash coming ashore after the bonfires. They are considered bad for the environment and culturally disrespectful.”

DLNR forewarned potential bonfire starters of the stepped-up patrols occurring the first weekend after New Year’s along with the specter of receiving a citation for unlawful burning.

Chief Redulla added, “We appreciate that anyone who may have been thinking about participating in an Ahu o Laka bonfire got the word through the news media and via social media and apparently elected to do the right thing.”

DOCARE officers report very little boating activity at the sandbar on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

# # #