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Thursday, May 04, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Thursday, May 4, 2023

Most of Kapāpala Ranch, which is leased from the state, will be transferred to the state Department of
Agriculture from Department of Land & Natural Resources. Some mauka forest land leases will be given back to the state.
Photo from Kapāpala. See www.kapapalaranch.weebly.com
KAPĀPALA RANCH WILL SEE MOST OF ITS LAND TRANSFERRED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, according to agreements worked out this week between state Department of Land & Natural Resources, and state Department of Agriculture. The land is located mauka of Highway 11 between Pāhala and Volcano.
     Transfer of lands used for cattle ranching at Kapāpala and several other local ranches in Kaʻū and around the state were a hot topic at the 2023 Hawai'i Legislature. Ranchers said they would rather lease from the Department of Agriculture, which could better understand their challenges and the long term investment made in reservoirs and other infrastructure, as well as appreciate that many cattlemen are able to help steward land as partners with the state. 
Nēnē, the state bird, living at Kapāpala Ranch.
Photo from Kapāpala Ranch
    The plan adopted by Board of Land & Natural Resources and Board of Agriculture returns some 7,000 acres in the upper reaches of Kapāpala Ranch to DLNR for forestry management. Kapāpala will retain some 27,000 acres under a lease with Department of Agriculture.
     The Legislature became involved in this year in the issue on which department leases out various state owned land. Hawai'i Island Sen. Lorraine Inouye introduced Senate Bill 77 to transfer a number of state owned ranchlands from DLNR to Department of Ag. The bill passed the Senate, where Inouye chairs the Water & Land Committee. In the House of Representatives, Water & Land Chair Linda Ichiyama, who replaced former Chair David Tarnas this year, said she would support the passage of Bill 77 in the 2024 Legislature should the administration fail to take care of the transfer this year.
     Earlier this year, Dawn Chang, new Chair of the state Board of Land & Natural Resources and chief of DLNR, visited Kapāpala managed by Lani and Bill Petrie. She also visited a large ranch on this island managed by K K, Jerry and Jason Moniz which is also to be transferred to Department of Agriculture.
     Chang said, "I will share personally, I was very impressed by their stewardship. They are managing these lands really well. Many of their lands straddle, or their boundaries straddle, forestry lands, but there's no doubt in my mind that these are good stewards. They are not wasting. They are taking care of the land. What I didn't want to see happen is that the land gets subdivided into gentleman's estates." She said that not subdividing them will be condition of the executive order transferring the land to Dept. of Ag.
Reservoirs at Kapāpala Ranch. Photo from Kapāpala Ranch
      Lani Petrie pointed out that Kapāpala is 163 years old and started handing back leased ranch land for forestry in 1906, again in 1916 for Hawai'i National Park, also in 1930 for Kapāpala Forest Reserve and in 1990 for Kapāpala Koa Canoe Area.  She said the ranch supports forestation. "You can't run any livestock when you want to reforest." 
    She suggested that much could be learned from lands already returned to DLNR by assessing their management and contribution to improving supporting the watershed and forestry.
      Hawai'i Cattlemen's Council representative Nicole Galase said that transferring lands from DLNR to Department of Ag does not take land out of conservation for agriculture, since it is already used for pasture. She said that most ranchers are not looking to deforest lands and are looking to add trees and to increase forestry where it makes sense to protect the land while continuing their operations. 

The late Monty Richards, of Kahua Ranch, a
 mentor in the Agricultural Leadership Program.
Photo from ALP
THE AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP FOUNDATION is recruiting applicants for its signature training initiative, the Agricultural Leadership Program. 
    It is a multidisciplinary, statewide program that brings together promising leaders from Hawai'i's agricultural sector. The Agricultural Leadership Foundation offers participants an in-depth look at Hawai'i's diverse agricultural systems through site visits that provide insights into Hawai'i's food system supply chain, transportation, value-added production, policymaking, and more.
    Applications are due June 15.For more information and to apply, visit https://www.agleaderhi.org/agricultural-leadership-program/.

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THE NATIVE AMERICAN AGRICULTURE FUND is taking on survey on food access, food sovereignty
and food Security. The aim is to help determine resources needed to improve access to nutritious food for native communities. The survey closes June 30. Findings from the last survey conducted in February 2021 can be viewed in the report, Reimagining Hunger Responses in Times of Crisis.
     Native American Agriculture Fund works with Food Research and Action Center to improve nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the U.S. through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. 

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NATIONAL FARMWORKERS JOBS PROGRAM is available in Hawai'i. A program of the U.S. Department of Labor, it provides job training and employment assistance for farmworkers and their families with on-the-job training, salary reimbursement to keep farmworkers employed during off-seasons, training to increase an employee's skills and credentials to enhance a company's overall operations, and more. To learn more, visit the NFJP website or make direct contact at (808) 344-5550 or via email at cs@meoinc.org.