Company hopes to process eucalyptus
HILO - The chief executive officer of a lumber company remains optimistic that commercial eucalyptus logging could begin next year on the Hamakua Coast.
Tradewinds Hawaiian Woods hopes to harvest and process logs at a sawmill operation in Ookala, the Hawaii Tribune Herald reported.
"We're just starting to go through a series of permit applications," CEO Don Bryan said.
The company hopes to have "local plantation woods for international and local sales" within a year. Timber would be "primarily eucalyptus but other exotic woods as well," he told the Rotary Club of South Hilo last month.
The company would like to start out harvesting about 150 acres and eventually 300 acres annually, he said. The operation could employ 35 workers.
Bryan has advocated Big Island eucalyptus harvesting for a decade. He was point man for Tradewinds Forest Products, which drew community opposition when it proposed a sawmill to process eucalyptus into veneer wood at an old Ookala sugar mill.
"This is a completely different company and has nothing to do with Tradewinds Forest Products," Bryan said.
The company holds one license that would allow it to harvest trees from 1,000 acres of the Waiakea Timber Management Area off Stainback Highway. Sherri Mann, a state Division of Forestry and Wildlife Cooperative Resource Management forester, said the license was included in Tradewinds' purchase of Hawaii Island Hardwoods.
The state is working on an environmental assessment for the entire 12,000-acre Waiakea Timber Management Area.
"The draft EA should be done in six months or so," Mann said.