UPDATE: HB2035 has a hearing scheduled for Monday, March 16, 2020 at 1:20 p.m. in the Hawai'i State Capitol conference room 224, before the House Water, Land, & Hawaiian Affairs Committee. REVIEW THE BILL AND SUBMIT TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION HERE.
(see below for sample testimony)
UPDATE ON SB2812: WLH voted to PASS, WITH AMENDMENTS. Ayes: Yamane, Todd, Har, Tarnas, Ward; Reservations: Lowen; No: Wildberger.
93,000 acres. Equivalent in size to well over half the entire island of Moloka'i (and nearly twice the size of Moloka'i Ranch), or 900 Aloha Stadiums (parking lots included), or 70,500 football fields.
That is how much public land on Hawai'i Island alone - including relatively untouched native forests, endangered species habitat, public hunting areas and access corridors, and countless cultural resources and sites - that would be transferred to the Department of Agriculture under SB2812 and HB2035, to renegotiate and issue new leases to powerful Hawai'i Island ranches for cattle grazing and livestock production.
These ranches -- who no longer want to abide by the conditions and requirements placed by the Department of Land and Natural Resources on their use of public lands -- believe that the Department of Agriculture will give them much more favorable lease terms, and are lobbying HARD for the passage of these bills. And the Department of Agriculture, via spokesperson (and former HART deputy director) Morris Atta's testimony, is more than happy to take control of these lands, because "the industry wants it."
Not only does the Department of Agriculture lack the mission, expertise, or staff to consider and take care of the environmental, cultural, and subsistence value of these lands, it also, through its board, has the power to exempt "agricultural" developments from almost every environmental and land use protection law.
Despite valid and clearly justified concerns from the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture's complete inability to articulate why a wholesale transfer of these 93,000 acres would support the public's interests (other than because "the industry wants it"), Senators and Representatives thus far have caved to the political pressures of Hawai'i Island's ranching lobby and their allies.
The kicker? 43,000 head, or 80% of the cattle raised on Hawai'i ranches marketed in 2018 were exported to the mainland. So why are certain ranch lobbyists claiming they are contributing to our local food security and carbon reduction goals? How dumb do they think our legislators are?
Review the testimonies submitted on these measures here and here, and submit your own when a hearing is scheduled.
UPDATE: HB2035 HAS A HEARING scheduled for Monday, March 16, 2020 at 1:20 p.m. in the Hawai'i State Capitol conference room 224, before the Senate Water and Land and Agriculture and Environment Committees. REVIEW THE BILL AND SUBMIT TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION HERE (or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) AND SPREAD THE WORD!
"Dear Chairs Kahele and Gabbard, Vice Chairs Keith-Agaran and Ruderman, and members of the Senate Water and Land and Agriculture and Environment Committees,
I OPPOSE HB2035 HD1 because it will let private ranches ignore the public interest in nearly 100,000 acres of public lands, by enabling the destruction of natural and cultural resources, the blocking of access to hunting grounds and cultural sites, and the development of agricultural facilities without environmental review or land use legal protections. Nothing is stopping private ranches from continuing to use public lands for their cattle operations, in balance with the many other interests and concerns of hikers, hunters, Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, conservationists, and others in these lands. Please HOLD this measure and protect the public trust in our limited public lands.