Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Sunday, March 9, 2014

Trini and Francis Marques, two of the former sugar workers who have helped to build Ka`u Coffee over the last 18 years,
now fearing the land will be sold out from under them. Photo from Ali`i Hula Hands Coffee
THE INSECURITY OF KA`U COFFEE FARMERS' land situation is making headlines beyond Ka`u. Hawai`i Tribune Herald and West Hawai`i Today ran stories this morning reporting that Moa`ula and Pear Tree farms where displaced sugar workers have built the Ka`u Coffee industry could lose their orchards. The 5,850 acres, which includes about 400 acres of coffee lands, could sell to buyers who don't want the farmers to stay there, the coffee growers worry.
     The story by Tom Callis features a photo of Lorie Obra at her coffee shack and farm at Moa`ula. Entitled Uncertainty Brews: Pending land sale has Ka`u coffee farmers unsure about future, the story says that the farmers "think their years of hard work is in jeopardy." It quotes Obra saying, "To be honest with you, I have no idea what's going to happen to the land." The story also quotes coffee farmers Trinidad and Francis Marques, former sugar workers who built the Ali`i Hawaiian Hula Hands coffee business when Ka`u Sugar shut down in 1996. The story quotes Trini saying, "We took out another ten acres some place else to be proactive. I know the quality of the coffee isn't going to b as great in that other area."
Lorie Obra, Trini Marques and Ka`u Coffee Growers Cooperative President
Gloria Cambra. All three have award-winning  coffee farms on land on
land put up for sale by Lehman Brothers.  Photo by Julia Neal
     The story also quotes Joel La Pinta, whose company Kennedy Wilson represents Lehman Brothers who took over the land in a foreclosure auction after lending and not being paid $105 million loaned to WWK Holdings against the land. 
     La Pinta said that in selling the property, "the coffee farms create a lot of value," according to the Tribune Herald.  The story also refers to Pacific Business News article, reporting that WWK "planned to use the properties for sale for high-end homes on large lots, but it's not clear if they planned to continue the leases." See more at hawaiitribune-herald.com.
     WWK's land manager Chris Manfredi and the company's consultants and attorneys were able to win acceptance for a Project Unit Development at Moa`ula and Pear Tree, which would have allowed smaller than 20-acre lots at the coffee farms and beyond. At the time, Manfredi described the subdivision as creating an "agricultural community." The subdivision was approved with various infrastructure conditions but has not received any final approvals.
    Mayor Billy Kenoi told The Ka`u Calendar and the farmers at several meetings in Ka`u that he is willing to help raise funds for an agricultural park for the coffee farmers should the land become available as a separate parcel from the 5,850 acres held by Lehman. He also said he wrote a letter to Lehman saying the county wants to protect the farmers. Lehman, however, wants to sell all the land at one time to one entity, according to La Pinta. Others interested in the overall parcels include The Nature Conservancy, which wants to preserve some of the coastal lands, and area ranchers who are using thousands of acres owned by Lehman for pastures. Edmund C. Olson, who owns some 8,000 acres in Ka`u and founded Ka`u Coffee Mill bid more than $12 million for the 5,850 acres at the foreclosure auction in Honolulu but was turned down when Lehman decided to take over the land and sell it on its own.
To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

A CORAL REEF RESTORATION AND MARINE CONSERVATION BILL passed the state House of Representatives this session and is up for consideration by the sate Senate during the second half of the Hawai`i State Legislature. Reefs in Hawai`i were decimated at places like Honu`apo on the Ka`u Coast where the sugar factories unloaded its waste into the ocean and at Punalu`u where development led to filling natural estuaries with runoff and soil moved for constructing the Sea Mountain resort and golf course.
     At Honu`apo, now a preserve, coral and fish populations are recovering decades after sugar shut down and following an oil spill created by a an oil storage taken out on the shoreline by a tidal wave. For transporting sugar on ships to the mainland, Honu`apo was dredged in the 1870s to create the harbor and landing.
     The bill’s authors contend that the new law and funding would be an effort toward more policing and management of the coral reefs to prevent such impacts in the future. 
Honu`apo in 1880 before the bay was dredged to bring in ships to pick up sugar from
the mill that sent runoff and waste into the ocean. Photo from www.soest.hawaii.edu
      Justification for HB 2622 states that “The broad range of documented anthropogenic impacts on coral reef health, including impacts from groundings, diving activities, poaching, anchoring and mooring, land and water-based pollutant discharges, and other direct and indirect uses of the State’s coral reefs, indicate that the Department of Land & Natural Resources may need a more consistent and reliable source of funding to maintain these unique areas and to conserve and protect coral reef resources throughout the State.
     The purpose of this Act is to provide for a special fund allowing for the collection and use of moneys for the conservation, supplementation, and enhancement of the State’s coral reefs and other marine resources.”
    The fund would come from fines, attorneys fees, awards, settlements and administrative costs for violations of laws protecting the marine environment. It would also come from “compensatory mitigatation” money collected from federal and state permitted impacts to the marine environment and other grants, awards, donations, gifts from the public and private sector.
   The money would be used for monitoring marine life conservation districts, research, enforcement, education. It would help support management of community-based subsistence fishing areas, fisheries management areas. It would carry out compensatory mitigation measures for impacts to the marine environment. The law would enable the marine life conservation money to be held separately form other state and DLNR funds to focus it on the ocean and nearshore waters.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs submitted testimony in favor of the spceali funds, stating,
The DLNR would use funding to further protect reefs and the
marine environment, according to HB2622.
Photo from U.S. Geological Survey
   “Hawai‘i’s ocean resources form the bedrock of our islands. Hawai‘i’s marine environment and natural resources serve as a cultural, economic, social, scientific and recreational foundation for these islands. OHA notes that economic studies in 2002 and 2003 found an overall contribution of $800 million in revenue generated from our coral reefs and coastal resources, with an added recreational, amenity, fishery, biodiversity and educational value of $364 million per year. A more recent report released in 2011 utilizing ‘innovative economic survey techniques’ found that across U.S. households, the economic value of protecting Hawai’i’s nearshore environment could be estimated at $34 billion a year. While our ocean waters clearly hold cultural, spiritual and biological significance beyond any monetary value, these economic analyses clearly reflect the critical nature of our marine environment to Hawai‘i nei.
     “This measure provides an opportunity to better ensure that planned and unplanned impacts to Hawai‘i’s fragile ocean environment result in appropriate compensation, dedicated to the rehabilitation of our marine resources. Over the last few decades, it has become abundantly clear that Hawai‘i’s ocean environment is subject to constant and ever-growing threats from a variety of sources, ranging from human overuse, to land- and water-based pollution, to climate change, to development projects and vessels groundings.”
    OHA urges the legislature to also allow user fees for non-residents, who use marine life conservation districts where visitation tops a half-million people a year.
     In his testimony to the House, DLNR chief William Aila recommended that the legislature direct his department to prepare a statewide coral reef mitigation plan, and to consider how to address planned and unplanned coral loss; how the value of coral and ecosystem service losses may be calculated and consulting with others to devise the program. He suggested that the DLNR be required to submit a report on findings and plans by Dec. 31, 2015. 
    There was little public testimony. A public school student wrote in with support, as did an organization called Ocean Tourism Coalition.
   Teresa L. Nakama, of Big Island Fisheries Alliance, which also asked for the humpback whale to be removed fro the federal endangered species list, wrote in opposition, saying that “This bill is a complete waste of our hard earn taxpayers' money. DLNR and DAR division already has zone protected areas, contracts with conservationists, and college students from all over the United States that come here for their research papers and the list goes on. Do not waste our hard earn taxpayers money on repetitive projects that already is being done by many others. We already have more rules and regulations and revised HAR and revised HRS that covers these areas of concern. Please oppose this bill and send the funds to serve the overall general public with vital concerns of public education, health and welfare, housing, and elderly care.”
     Nani Polgline wrote in that “The conservation efforts have reached an imbalance in Hawai`i. Public access and usage of coastal areas have become too restricted and locked up with 'conservation' agendas." To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuyu and escort Bradley Llanes at
this weekend's Youth of the Year banquet for Boys & Girls Club.
Photo by Julia Neal
KA`U’S BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS have received a $10,000 donation from the Edmund C. Olson Trust, II,  which was a major sponsor of the islandwide organization’s Youth of the Year Banquet & Awards this weekend. Attending from Ka`u were Miss Ka`u Coffee Tiare-Lee Shibuya and her escort, musician Bradley Llanes. Representing Olson Trust were Kea Keolanui, of the trust's new ecotourism division and Kimberly Ciez, manager of Big Island Trading Co., which sells and serves Ka`u coffee and macadamia at its new location in Hilo. Also on hand was Boys & Girls Club Pahala director Dolly Kailiawa and Na`alehu – Ocean View director Lyonna Medeck-Starks, as well as Boys & Girls Club Ka`u board member Julia Neal.
     Winner of the Youth of the Year award for the Boys & Girls Club of the Big island is Benjamin Cortez, Jr. who has been a Boys & Girls Club member for seven years. He gave a passionate speech about winning a battle against cancer as a infant and the appreciation for all those who helped with his survival, leading him into community service. He will represent the Big Island at the state finals for Youth of the Year. The Hawai`i winner will compete in Washington, D.C. and meet the President of the United States. 
     For more on the Boys & Girls Clubs, see www.bgcbi.com.
A flash exhibit at Nia`ulani through late Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by Julia Neal
THE PUBLIC IS INVITED TO THE ANNUAL KA`U FARM BUREAU meeting this Friday, March 14 at Pahala Community Center at 6 p.m. Keynote speaker will be state Board of Agriculure chair Scott Enright and County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth. The event is potluck. There will also be an election of officers. For more call Hawai`i Farm Bureau President Christ Manfredi at 929-9550.

A FLASH EXHIBIT AT VOLCANO ART CENTER’S Niaulani Campus runs through Tuesday evening. The five day show, with artists and Margaret Stanton and Randy Takake on site to meet with visitors,  is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

SEE THE MARCH ISSUE of The Ka`u Calendar newspaper online at kaucalendar.com.

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