Molokai Ranch Asks to Protect Land

Longtime Molokai rancher James “Uncle Jimmy” Duvauchelle has been managing land on Molokai’s west end for 40-plus years – seeing the island turn from green to brown and the economy dwindle..

In a move that will protect land from being developed, as well as keep the land under local management, Molokai Properties Ltd. (MPL) petitioned the state Land Use Commission to designate 4,919 acres as “important agricultural lands.”

Duvauchelle manages Pohakuloa Ranch, about 3,000 of the nearly 5,000 acres up for protection, as well as Diamond B Ranch, owned by Brendan Balthazar.

Balthazar became aware of the matter while reading the Maui News. He called Duvauchelle.

“I had no knowledge concerning this matter,” Balthazar said.

By consolidating two ranches in the 5,000 acres, Duvauchelle said he plans to expand his cattle herd from 500 to 1,000 and foster local economy.

“One of the fallbacks of this business, is there there’s never enough animals,” he said. “We need to increase our herd numbers. This will also help the Molokai slaughter house.”

Duvauchelle said all his cows are grass-fed.

“People are really cautious about eating right. So we try to get into natural grass fed beef to work together with the slaughter house,” he said.

Half of the cows would be kept until three years old, when they would be sent to the mainland for fattening and slaughtering.

“Molokai can’t sustain all of them. It takes too long and we’re not able to get cash flowing between,” he said. “So by me getting this land, I can increase my numbers and keep the cash flowing.”

Duvauchelle’s not only concerned about helping the economy. He is also trying to sustain Molokai’s unique values.

“This is also about keeping the paniolo lifestyle. I want to support rodeos and 4-H lifestyle, as well,” he added.

MPL proposed in a Nov. 30, 2010 filing that the 5,000 acres be protected for 99 years, restricting the land to agriculture use only. If approved, the land would be leased to Pohakuloa Ranch for 20 years, according to the document..

Other companies have filed for similar designations recently, such as Castle & Cooke on Oahu and Alexander and Baldwin Inc. on Maui and Kauai. The companies receive financial incentives, such as tax credits, if the designations are approved.

If all goes well, Duvauchelle said the petition could be approved as early as the end of next year. It is currently under review by the Land Use Commission.


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