Hawaii wants Midler to pay for felling trees

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LIHUE, Hawaii -- Bette Midler cut down more than 230 trees around one of her properties on the island of Kauai without a permit, and the state has recommended she be fined.

The staff of the Board of Land and Natural Resources recommended $6,500 in fines for having the trees felled and for building a graded road without permits required for the land zoned for conservation use.

The singer and actress will pay the fines and will follow a replanting program, her attorney Max W. J. Graham said.

The actress and movie star, who was born in Honolulu, didn't realize permits were needed to remove the trees on a vacant 58,000-square-foot parcel of land on Kauai's North Shore, Graham said.

"The whole idea with cutting the trees down was with the idea of improving the lot with native species" instead of the nonnative, invasive species that had grown there, Graham said. "It's unfortunate that a mistake was made."

The National Tropical Botanical Garden, which maintains three gardens on Kauai, will design a replanting plan that consists of appropriate native plants, Graham said.

A botanist hired by Midler after the fact said 120 Java plum trees, 100 octopus trees and 10 to 20 Madagascar olive trees that were cut down were all nonnative species. Some native trees also were removed from the property, the botanist said.

Midler, known for her longtime commitment to the environment, was once known as the Compost Queen and appeared on billboards in Los Angeles advocating green recycling containers are for yard trimmings.

Midler is set to replace Celine Dion as a headline performer at Las Vegas's renovated Caesars Palace next year.
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