Kamehameha Schools is issuing a request-for-proposals (RFP) in the search for an operator to harvest a portion of the 10,000 acres of forest on the Hāmākua Coast of Hawai‘i island.
The new operator will be responsible for harvesting 3,000 acres of eucalyptus in Hilo, Pa‘auilo ma kai and near the rim of Waipi‘o Valley.
“These are areas in which we want to immediately transition to other uses such as community education programs and agricultural activities,” said Marissa Harman, KS director of Asset Management on Hawai‘i Island. “The selected operator will be awarded a short-term license versus a long-term lease to allow us more flexibility in assessing the future of the lands in Hāmākua as we work to meet the goals of our strategic plan.”
The RFP process will seek operators with minimum, desired experience in plantation forest management, marketing and harvesting experience.
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 the 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 look forward to developing a post-sugarcane era industry for KS properties in Hāmākua. We want to express our thanks to the community for its patience and support as we continue our work to find a forest operator.”
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.