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ASG: Trees removed from Maugaoalii hillside for safety reasons

Maugaoalii hillside

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — After many local residents were puzzled about why the hillside leading up to Maugaoalii had been totally cleared of foliage and trees, the Governor’s Office issued a press release late Tuesday explaining it was done to ensure road safety.

“Trees near roads can pose particular safety risks, especially during severe weather conditions. Falling trees or branches can block the road, causing accidents or impeding emergency services. Selectively removing them reduces the chances of such incidents.

“There have been incidents in the past where vehicles have been struck by trees or falling rocks. Unfortunately, these incidents can even be fatal. There was a recent incident at Maugaoalii where a member of the community’s vehicle was struck by a falling tree. Fortunately, in that incident, no loss of life occurred. As public safety is a priority for the administration, these incidents are taken seriously.”

The Dept. of Public Works (DPW) collaborated with other ASG agencies to assess the situation at Maugaoalii and determined that while trees generally add to the stability of slopes, in some cases, the removal of trees on slopes may be necessary to mitigate the risk of landslides.

The press release noted that “each situation is unique, and decisions regarding tree removal at this site were carefully considered. The clearing of these trees from the slope also allows for better road maintenance activities, according to DPW. It provides access to road workers and equipment, making it easier to repair or repave the road, install safety barriers, or improve visibility for drivers.”

DPW with the assistance of a local contractor’s equipment did the clearing on the Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day holidays to avoid heavy traffic on the weekdays.

According to the press release, DPW has been responding to rock falls, landslides, tree falls, and all sorts of incidents such as these for many years on the Maugaoalii hillside.