GARY KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lanai resident Sam Shin, right, shown seated with friends outside the Blue Ginger Cafe, is worried about the impact a proposed wind farm could have on game hunting. Shin said hunting is not only a lifestyle on Lanai, but also a means of income for families who house visiting hunters.
Project whips up fears
Lanai residents worry that a new wind farm will cut into available space for hunting
LANAI CITY » At the Blue Ginger Cafe, several residents who talk about a plan for a major wind farm on Lanai are worried the new technology will lead to the end of game hunting on their island.
"If they going to stop hunting, that's going to be a bad thing to do," said Sam Shin, a retired pineapple worker. "It's going to cause problems."
Castle & Cooke Resorts LLC is developing a plan to build a 300-megawatt wind farm on its land in northwestern Lanai, an area frequented by hunters.
The business has built several meteorological towers to determine the feasibility of establishing the wind farm.
Castle & Cooke is developing a habitat conservation plan, in light of the potential impact on four species, including the endangered Hawaiian hoary bat, stilt and petrel.
While the birds nest in other areas, they are known to fly across northwestern Lanai at night, federal officials said.
The habitat conservation plan might be presented before the state land board on Sept. 12, but the agenda has not been set, according to the Land Board.
Residents said hunting for mouflon sheep and deer has become more than a choice of lifestyle and additional food on the table for the scores of hunting families on the island.
Hunting attracts neighbor island visitors to Lanai, who stay with local families and help broaden the economic base beyond tourists at the three hotels on Lanai.
Lanai resident Pat Reilly said while Castle & Cooke has assured the public that hunting will continue on the island, residents are wary of what might happen once the permits are granted.
Reilly said the area identified for the wind farm is located in a wilderness area that has been a traditional route for hunters.
The Land Board chairwoman issued a departmental permit for the meteorological towers based on Hawaii administrative rules allowing research collection with incidental ground disturbance from the installation of equipment, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
The meteorological towers were exempt from being required to develop an environmental assessment, and no public hearing was required, the department said
Reilly said residents want to express their worries about the project while the planning takes place.
"What people are looking for is being involved in the planning," Reilly said.