Army concedes ‘environmental justice concerns’ amid debate over future of state-leased lands – Hawaii News Now

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Army is expecting passionate testimony as it kicks off a series of meetings over the future of its leased lands on Oahu.
The Army’s leases from the state were signed in 1964 for $1 and expire in 2029. The U.S. government leases about 6,322 acres of land from the state at the Makua Military Reservation, Kahuku Training Area and Kawailoa-Poamoho Training Area near Schofield Barracks.
In its draft environmental impact statement, the Army looks at three alternatives:
“What that tells us is they don’t need these training areas and they can actually easily let these leases sunset and take no action,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale, spokesperson for Ka Lahui Hawaii.
“The people here of Oahu, we need them more,” she added.
But the Army says its preferred option is to retain roughly 66% of the land at all three sites.
“The Army has taken a very deliberate and thoughtful look at the parcels that are currently being used, to understand and to be very deliberate about what lands in the end that are sought to be retained,” said Alice Roberts, U.S. Army Pacific Land Retention manager.
The Army in its draft EIS said, “Loss of the state-owned lands would result in impacts on mission-critical training because the Army would no longer have access to these maneuver areas and infrastructure on state-owned lands.” But the Army also concedes an impact.
“Continued loss of aina represents a disproportionate and a longterm, significant, adverse impact on communities with environmental justice concerns,” the Army said.
Sonoda-Pale said that’s “pretty much an admission of guilt by the US Army.”
The proposed EIS does not look at the number of years for a potential lease or a dollar amount. That would be negotiated with the state.
Live-fire training at Makua stopped in 2004 and it doesn’t happen at Kahuku or Poamoho. The live-fire training occurs at Pohakuloa on Hawaii Island and Oahu’s Schofield Barracks.
The public comment period ends August 7.
Here are the public meetings planned:
To read the draft EIS, click here.
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