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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 18, 2001

Waiakea logging hearing to reconvene

By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i — A Board of Land and Natural Resources hearing on plans to harvest nearly 9,000 acres of exotic trees in the Waiakea Timber Management Area will reconvene June 8 in a larger venue.

Testifiers and observers at the initial meeting April 12 at Hilo's State Office Building were forced to wait hours in the hallways as the board attempted to take up 34 agenda items before running out of time.

The board's June meeting will start at 9 a.m. in the new Hilo Hongwanji Hall that seats 500.

At issue is a request by Tradewinds Industries of Oregon for a license to harvest exotic trees planted 40 years ago for the purpose of logging. Tradewinds wants to set up a $40 million logging and mill operation that would produce plywood and veneer and employ 400 workers.

Big Island business groups and state foresters are among the supporters.

Environmentalists and other opponents say the plan would cause roadway disruptions and runoff problems and threaten native bats and hawks, among other concerns.

Andrea Gill, executive director of the Hawai'i Forestry Industry Association, said despite a scheduling conflict between the land board hearing and the association's statewide annual meeting on Kaua'i, her group will be represented in Hilo.