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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 13, 2006

Ranch leases finally given

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

HILO, Hawai'i Hawaiian Homes officials plan to divide up about 2,500 acres near Waimea for a new pastoral subdivision, the largest ranching subdivision the department has distributed to Hawaiian lessees in more than 15 years.

The planned lot awards are part of last year's settlement of a lawsuit by the so-called "Aged Hawaiians," who had been waiting for pastoral leases in the area since 1952 and said they were improperly passed over for land awards.

The Honokaia Pastoral Lots project would create up to 60 parcels ranging from 5 to 285 acres in Hamakua, west of Honoka'a village. The plan favored by Hawaiian Homes officials would set aside a dozen of those parcels for ranching only, with no home sites allowed on them.

The land is formerly part of Parker Ranch, and until last October the land mauka of the old Mamalahoa Highway from the 2,600- to 2,800-foot elevation was leased out for horse and cattle grazing.

The settlement required the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to offer land to Hawaiians who had signed up for the Waimea pastoral waiting list, and to offer additional land to lessees who had accepted smaller lots in Pu'ukapu.

The applicants seeking expanded land holdings had to draw up ranching plans, which were then evaluated by a panel of experts. The panel selected 11 of the 42 plans the lessees submitted as workable ranching proposals, and those plans are expected to take up about 1,700 acres of the Honokaia offering.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com.