Act 90 land-transfer partnership continues between state agencies
The Legislature passed Act 90 in 2003, which set forth a process for the Department of Land and Natural Resources to transfer non-ag park lands to the Department of Agriculture for agricultural production.
It requires a cooperative working relationship between both the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture and their respective boards.
An April 28 Department of Land and Natural Resources Land Division update to the Board of Land and Natural Resources included compliance with Act 90, current interdepartmental negotiations, and next steps.
In the 20 years since its enactment, more than 250 leases, revocable permits, and vacant parcels representing more than 38,000 acres of crop and pasture lands have been transferred to the Department of Agriculture and the Agribusiness Development Corporation.
Over the last several months, Department of Land and Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture personnel have met regularly to discuss implementation of Act 90.
“It’s been a collaborative process,” said Board of Land and Natural Resources Chair Dawn Chang. “Some land transfers are simple and straightforward. Other are more complicated, due to multiple use classifications, inherent resource values – conservation, cultural, recreational – or other factors. We need to ensure DLNR fulfills its mission and public trust obligations.
“However, I am confident that the pasture leases we propose to transfer, that include Kapapala Ranch and KK Ranch, are being stewarded in a pono manner,” Chang continued. “When they longer are being used in agricultural purposes, the land will revert back to DLNR.”
Many of the lands for transfer include important cultural sites and recreational features like trails and hunting areas, and forestry lands critical for watershed protection.
Some lands may contain remnant native forests or are strategic restoration sites containing a seedbank of koa and other natives. Department of Land and Natural Resources oversight of these lands provides flexibility to re-evaluate areas for their highest and best use, which is key in changing land and climate conditions. If threats cause any changes, the Department of Land and Natural Resources will reevaluate to determine if land would be more appropriately managed by Department of Agriculture.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is currently negotiating with the Department of Agriculture and ranchers to determine which transfers are acceptable, to develop allowances ensuring public access and hunting opportunities, and to decide which areas the Department of Land and Natural. Resources will retain consistent with its mission.
The departments have a schedule to process as many parcels as possible through agreement by the two boards by Dec. 31, 2023. The departments will also work to process executive orders that finalize the transfers.