KS land available to lease: School to repurpose part of eucalyptus forest

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HILO — Kamehameha Schools will seek a new tenant for more than 10,000 acres of eucalyptus forest it owns on the Hamakua Coast following expiration of its current lease agreement.

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HILO — Kamehameha Schools will seek a new tenant for more than 10,000 acres of eucalyptus forest it owns on the Hamakua Coast following expiration of its current lease agreement.

The lease for harvesting and operations is held by LHF Lopiawa LLC and will end Saturday.

Marissa Harman, Kamehameha Schools’ Hawaii Island asset management director, said the lessee is not seeking a new lease or extension.

The private school planted 12,700 acres of eucalyptus after purchasing the former sugar lands in the 1990s.

About 2,800 acres have been harvested, with the first major harvest occurring in 2011, Harman said.

She said the school is interested in repurposing about 2,000 acres for cattle grazing or diversified agriculture. That could include lands that have been harvested as well as forested acreage, depending on their location.

“We’re open, ready and willing to listen to the community and others who want to come forward and propose uses,” Harman said.

LHF Lopiawa has held the lease since 1996 and has primarily harvested trees for export, she said.

Harman said LHF Lopiawa didn’t have to give a reason for not extending the lease.

Hu Honua Bioenergy, which was building a biomass plant in Pepeekeo, had planned to purchase local eucalyptus trees.

That project was halted earlier this year after Hawaii Electric Light Co. terminated its power purchase agreement because of missed deadlines.

It’s not clear how that might have impacted the current lessees’ plans.

Harman said the school hopes to have a new lease agreement ready in the spring.

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A request for qualifications for prospective bidders will be issued next week, she said.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.