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KS Takes Steps Toward Repositioning 3,000 Acres of Eucalyptus Forest

December 7, 2018, 12:47 PM HST (Updated December 7, 2018, 12:47 PM)
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Kamehameha Schools is closer to selecting a new licensee to oversee operations and harvesting of 3,000 acres of forest on the Hāmākua Coast of Hawai‘i island.

The site of the Hū Honua project site in Pepe’ekeo. Hū Honua photo.

On October 15, Kamehameha Schools sought qualifications from interested bidders to harvest 3,000 acres of eucalyptus in Hilo, Pa‘auilo ma kai and near the rim of Waipi‘o Valley. Bids were due on November 15, 2018.

The RFP process sought operators with experience in plantation forest management, marketing and harvesting experience.

Hilo-based CN Renewable Resources LLC, sister company to Hū Honua Bioenergy, LLC, has been chosen to move on to the negotiations stage of the selection process.

“The 3,000 acres encompass areas we want to immediately transition to other uses such as community education programs and other diversified agricultural activities,” said Marissa Harman, Director of Asset Management on Hawai‘i Island. “Should negotiations prove successful, CN Renewable Resources will be awarded a short-term license, which allows us more flexibility in assessing the future of the lands in Hāmākua as we work to meet the goals of our strategic plan.”

Pa‘auilo-based Hawai‘i Forest, which was selected in 2017 to move on to final lease negotiations in the previous selection process, notified Kamehameha Schools during this past summer that it would be withdrawing from lease negotiations.

“After the negotiations fell through, we decided it was a good opportunity to pause and take a deeper look at the long-term plans for Hāmākua,” Harman said. “Kamehameha Schools is committed to its kuleana of responsible stewardship of these lands. We are excited for the opportunity to reposition some of our properties in Hāmākua and we want to express our thanks to the community for its patience and support.”

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The previous lease expired on Dec. 31, 2016 when then-lessee LHF Lopiwa LLC notified KS that it would not exercise its option to extend the agreement.

Kamehameha Schools dedicates more land to sustainable agriculture than any other private landowner in Hawai‘i and is deeply committed to keeping its Hāmākua lands in productive agriculture.

Kamehameha Schools acquired approximately 30,000 acres from the former Hāmākua Sugar Co. in 1994 and then transitioned the land from sugar to a variety of uses including small-scale commercial, residential, diversified agriculture, pasture and timber forest.

The previous tenant, LHF Lopiwa, LLC (LHF), notified Kamehameha Schools last year that it would not seek an extension of its lease which expired on Dec. 31, 2016.

“The well-being of our lāhui is directly related to the health and condition of our ‘āina,” Hawai‘i island Senior Director Alapaki Nahale-a said. “It is imperative that we manage our ‘āina to be resilient so that it continues to provide us the physical, spiritual and cultural connections in perpetuity and continue to strengthen our Native Hawaiian identity. We believe that the harvest and repositioning of the 3,000 acres will enable us to move closer to our goal of improving the well-being of our Lāhui.”

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