Campsites proposedWAILUKU >> Nine overnight camping areas have been proposed for the former military target island of Kahoolawe once the Navy ends its ordnance cleanup in November 2003.
9 areas would open for overnight
stays after the Navy ends
its cleanup next year
State agency to host discussions on
Kahoolawe access proposal
By Gary T. Kubota
Several campsites would be developed as cultural education centers and include facilities such as a centralized kitchen, a gathering area, gardens, a water system and designated fire pits.
The proposed "Kahua Kauhale" camping areas include Hakioawa, Kuheia-Kaulana, Luamakika, and Honokanaia, under a draft plan proposed by the state Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission.
Other camping areas, called "Kahua Ho'omoana," intended to provide smaller groups with more intensive subsistence experiences, would be located at Papakanui, Ahupu, Honoko'a, Kealaikahiki-Keanakeiki and Kanapou, the commission said.
All of the campsites would have sanitation facilities and a land shelter for boats and canoes coming from other islands.
Access to the island would be either by helicopter at designated landing sites or by vessel at four mooring areas. Commission official Stanton Enomoto said at least a couple of campsites would be ready for use after the Navy turns over control over the island's access to the state on or before Nov. 11, 2003.
Enomoto said some sites already are being used for camping, including Hakioawa by the Protect Kahoolawe Ohana for its monthly visits and Honokanaia by the Navy.
Under the draft "Access & Risk Management Plan" for the island, the commission will provide guides to visitors who hike outside the camping areas because an estimated 35 percent of the island would remain uncleared of surface ordnance.
Despite appropriations of more than $270 million, Navy officials say they'll fall short of their original goal to clear the entire surface of Kahoolawe of live ordnance by 2003 and aren't sure how much land will be suitable for habitation.
Enomoto said reduction of the habitable areas of the island -- those cleared of ordnance to a depth of four feet -- also will limit areas for environmental restoration. The commission had planned to reforest hilltops with trees to capture more rain, but the size of the reforestation effort will be reduced, he said.
Commission Chairwoman Colette Machado said, "They (the Navy) weren't prepared for handling the logistics," adding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had more experience. "We have been very disappointed." While using Kahoolawe for target practice and maneuvers, the Navy dropped live ordnance on the island from 1941 to 1990, including rockets, grenades, guided missiles, bombs, and ship-to-shore shells.
Navy officials say under a congressional act authorizing the spending of up to $400 million, they were required to conduct the cleanup.
Officials said the work on the largest ordnance-clearing project within the U.S. Department of Defense is taking longer than anticipated because of the thousands of pieces of live ordnance and debris sometimes found in just a few acres of land.
"It is so very complicated," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell said.
"The Navy is committed to safely clearing as much of the ordnances from Kahoolawe as possible. Obviously safety of the workers and safety of people going on the island is of the utmost importance."
Campbell said more ordnance is cleared from Kahoolawe in a month than all other ordnance cleanups in the United States combined.
No one has been injured from exploding ordnance during the cleanup, the Navy said.
Commission Executive Director Keoni Fairbanks said while there were problems, he felt the Navy has made management changes and the current cleanup was going faster than ever.
Fairbanks said the "unfortunate thing" was that the Navy has relied upon helicopters to ferry more than 300 workers to the island on a daily basis. Fairbanks estimated that nearly one-fourth of the expense of the cleanup has been spent on helicopter service.
Under a legislative mandate, Kahoolawe is to be eventually turned over to a native Hawaiian sovereign entity recognized by the state and federal governments.
According to the draft plan, the Navy would still be responsible for the removal and disposal of any ordnance discovered after the state takes control of access to the island.
Machado said even in areas that have been cleared, live ordnance has been found in the past, apparently because some has gone undetected.
Machado said the potential danger from unexploded ordnance remains a major worry. "That still a concern, and that won't disappear," she said.
A series of public meetings is scheduled this week and next to discuss a proposed access and risk management plan for Kahoolawe.
State agency to host discussions
on Kahoolawe access proposal
The meetings are being conducted by the state's Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, the agency that will administer control of the island when the Navy is scheduled to end its ordnance clearing work in November, 2003.
The meetings, all starting at 7 p.m., will be at the Hawaii Police Department conference room in West Hawaii tonight, Campus Center room 316 at the University of Hawaii-Hilo tomorrow night, and the Maui County Council chambers on Friday.
Other meetings will be at the Senior Citizens Center in Lanai City on Tuesday, the Mitchell Pauole Center on Molokai on Jan. 23, State Capitol Room 329 on Jan. 24, and Kauai Community College's Continuing Education Department on Jan. 25.
Copies of the draft Kahoolawe Access & Risk Management Plan may be obtained at state public libraries or through the commission's Web page at www.state.hi.us/kirc