Kamehameha Schools negotiating with operator for eucalyptus harvest

Kamehameha Schools will enter negotiations with CN Renewable Resources to potentially harvest 3,000 acres of eucalyptus along the Hamakua Coast.

The Hilo-based business is a sister company to Hu Honua Bioenergy, a biomass power plant being built in Pepeekeo.

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The educational trust sought bids in October to harvest eucalyptus in Hilo, Paauilo makai and near the rim of Waipio Valley. Those bids were due Nov. 15 and sought operators with experience in plantation forest management, marketing and harvesting.

“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, Kamehameha Schools director of asset management on Hawaii 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 Hamakua as we work to meet the goals of our strategic plan.”

Kamehameha Schools planted 12,700 acres of eucalyptus trees after acquiring about 30,000 acres of former sugar lands in the 1990s.

The previous lease expired Dec. 31, 2016, after LHF Lopiwa LLC notified Kamehameha Schools that it would not extend its lease agreement.

In 2017, Paauilo-based Hawaii Forest was selected to move on to final lease negotiations in the previous selection process, but withdrew from those negotiations in June.

Officials at Hu Honua, a biomass power plant being built in Pepeekeo, said in 2016 that they had agreements for harvesting trees on Parker Ranch land and Kamehameha Schools land in Pahala.

A Hawaii Forest official also previously confirmed there were initial contacts with Hu Honua about harvesting trees on Kamehameha Schools land on the Hamakua Coast.

“Like any of our agricultural tenants, we really don’t get involved in their market. Our ranchers determine where their beef goes, our farmers determine which market they sell their crops at,” Harman said. “Really, our focus is on our aina and what’s happening there, and getting to a place of being able to reposition those lands after harvest.”

Harman said Kamehameha Schools received “a handful of bids” by the Nov. 15 deadline.

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“The main way we assessed our bids, again, was what we were generally looking for in the RFP — the forest management experience, the marketing experience, the harvesting experience,” she said.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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