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Companies suspected of illegally harvesting eucalyptus on Hamakua Coast

KAILUA-KONA >> The Kamehameha Schools are accusing two companies of illegally harvesting eucalyptus trees on its properties along the Hamakua Coast.

West Hawaii Today reports (http://bit.ly/2qPEpRf ) the Kamehameha Schools filed a complaint in the 3rd Circuit Court against Jonathan Spies and his companies Hamakua Renewable Enterprises LLC and Golden Lion Hawaii LLC. The complaint asks that the court immediately and permanently stop the defendants from trespassing and illegally harvesting trees on the school’s property.

The Kamehameha Schools says the companies harvested more than 28 acres (113.3 sq. kilometers) of eucalyptus timbers at two of its properties.

Along with the filing, the school filed a lumber theft report in May. Police are investigating the case. Spies was also issued a cease-and-desist order, which he may have already violated, according to the report.

Spies said he has a contract with a contractor and private owner in the same area. Cutting on the school’s property was an accident, he said.

“It’s hard to know exactly where we are,” Spies said.

Neighbors informed the school of the logging activities, according the report. The neighbors reported seeing large equipment passing through their paved one-lane road.

Resident Frosty Yardley said the constant activity has damaged the road and created a safety issue.

Neighbor Susan Russell said the problem was not the work that the companies were doing. It was that they did not offer community input or warning ahead of time.

“You just have to do it the right way so you don’t destroy other things, like the roads,” she said.

The county is investigating whether Spies and his companies made any violations on a county road. If so, District 1 Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter wants to see them held accountable.

“If the county doesn’t take action, we’re going to allow for more and more of these businesses to impact these smaller communities in a negative way,” she said.

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