Tenant sought for Hamakua land
LHF Lopiwa LLC, which holds the current eucalyptus plantation lease, has harvested trees on 2,000 to 3,000 acres and had beenshipping logs out of Kawaihae Harbor to buyers in China.
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HILO >> Kamehameha Schools is seeking a new tenant for 10,000 acres of former sugar lands that are planted in eucalyptus along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii island after a company that had been logging those lands opted to surrender the lease.
LHF Lopiwa LLC, which holds the current eucalyptus plantation lease, has harvested trees on 2,000 to 3,000 acres and had been shipping logs out of Kawaihae Harbor to buyers in China.
Kamehameha Schools officials said they were notified recently Lopiwa would not exercise an option to extend its lease when it expires Saturday.
Marissa Harman, Kamehameha Schools director of asset management for Hawaii island, said a request for proposals for potential new tenants will be issued early next week. Minimum qualifications will include forest management, harvesting and marketing experience.
The former Bishop Estate bought the Hamakua lands in 1994 after the bankruptcy of Hamakua Sugar Co., and that purchase was widely seen as a move that would help preserve agriculture in the area and prevent or slow residential development along the lush, scenic coast.
Bishop Estate, a trust established by Hawaiian Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop to educate Hawaiian children, was later renamed Kamehameha Schools. Kamehameha Schools now owns 297,534 acres of agricultural and conservation lands on Hawaii island, or about 12 percent of the total land on the island.
About 12,400 acres of land from the Laupahoehoe area to Waipio were planted from 1996 to 2004 in fast-growing eucalyptus trees that were supposed to be harvested within a few years and sold as raw material for paper products.
THAT plan didn’t work out, and much of the eucalyptus still hasn’t been harvested. The lease was sold to GMO Renewable Resources and its subsidiary, Lopiwa, in 2008.
Harman said the eucalyptus acreage that was harvested will now be shifted to new forms of diversified
The end of the old eucalyptus lease “gives us a chance to pull back in some areas and look at different leasing practices taking into consideration what we’ve heard from the community over the years, so now is our time to make some of those changes, and we’re excited,” she said.
She said Kamehameha Schools remains committed to the forest industry. The plan is to encourage a variety of types of timber, including possible use of Hamakua lands simultaneously for timber and grazing, Harman said.
Kamehameha Schools has already leased about 7,000 acres of its Hamakua lands for grazing, she said.
Harman said the tenants on the eucalyptus plantation pay county property taxes on the land along with some ground lease rent to Kamehameha Schools, but declined to say
how much money the
eucalyptus lease was
generating for the landowner.
Albert Nahale-a, senior director of community engagement and resources for Kamehameha Schools on Hawaii island, said the eucalyptus lease “is for us about stewarding for future generations.”
“This is not just a land lease for us,” Nahale-a said. “It’s about supporting ag locally but also statewide. It’s about how we interact about the community on the Hamakua Coast. It’s how we leverage these assets to help our education and program goals.”
A spokesman for Lopiwa could not be reached for comment Tuesday.