State briefs 3/2


Hawaii ready to put Galbraith Estate lands to work

HONOLULU — Three month after a deal was concluded to protect hundreds of acres of rich Oahu farmland from development, the state is ready to invite farmers to put the Galbraith Estate lands to work.

State officials want Hawaii farmers to come work the land, according to Friday’s Hawaii News Now.

The state acquired more than 1,700 acres of estate lands in December, with the bulk of that land reserved for use by farmers. The farmers who invest in the land will get access to packing and processing facilities and a stable water source in nearby Lake Wilson. Farm workers will live at Whitmore Village.

“Wahiawa was a thriving ag community,” said Democratic Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, one of the chief proposers of the Whitmore Village Agricultural Development Plan. “Whitmore Village employed thousands of jobs at the Dole facility and nothing really took its place.”

He hopes the seeds planted there will lead to economic growth in Wahiawa.

The state made a similar effort two years ago with agricultural land in Kunia. More than 180 acres were leased to small farmers, and the lands now are thriving.

Dela Cruz hopes the seeds planted at Galbraith Estates will lead to economic growth in Wahiawa town.

“This is a little different in the sense that what we are really talking about the revitalization of a community as well,” Dela Cruz said. “So many people have to work in Waikiki or in town or on military bases, we hope with this you can still live, work and play in the area.”

Some longtime Wahiawa residents are eager to see a return to agriculture.

“I think it is going to be a hub for different crops where the farmers can start their businesses here,” said Jaime Ubongen, who used to live in Wahiawa. “I think this will be a great venue for farmers.”

Feds defer plan to move Hawaii seals to main isles

HONOLULU — Federal officials are temporarily giving up a plan to boost survival rates for juvenile Hawaiian monk seals by moving a few of them from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the Main Hawaiian Islands each year.

The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed the idea two years ago to help save a critically endangered species that’s declining at an annual rate of 4 percent.

But the Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program’s lead scientist said Friday officials need prepare more before following through with the plan.

Charles Littnan says one way to prepare is to spread the word that people should never feed seals because this encourages them to beg for food. He also wants people to call the agency when seals do things like steal fish or get on boats.