Less restriction favored by Army in Makua EIS
Alternatives are listed in the EIS draft for military training
Of four alternatives to resume live fire training at the Makua Military Reservation, the Army says it favors one allowing "full capacity use with fewer restrictions."
Four public meetings are scheduled, each beginning with an open house from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., with information provided on the draft EIS, followed by public comments from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. They are scheduled:
» Oct. 6: Nanakuli High School, 89-980 Nanakuli Ave.
» Oct. 7: Oahu location to be determined.
» Oct. 8: Aunty Sally Kaleohano's Luau Hale, 799 Piilani St., Hilo, Big Island.
» Oct. 9: Waimea Community Center, 65-1260 Kawaihae Road, Kamuela, Big Island.
The alternatives are cited in a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for military training in the 4,190-acre valley published by the Department of the Army in today's Federal Register.
The alternatives include: 1 -- Reduced capacity use with some weapons restrictions; 2, full capacity use with some weapons restrictions, 3, full capacity use with fewer restrictions, and 4, full capacity use with fewer weapons restrictions. A "no-action" alternative allowing no live-fire training was also evaluated.
The range would be used for 242 training days annually for the first four alternatives, according to the draft EIS.
Weapons systems would be similar to those used for past training but the Army's preferred choice, alternative 3, would add tracer ammunition, inert, tube-launched, optically-tacked, wire-guided (TOW) missiles, 2.75-inch rockets and illumination munitions.
Malama Makua, a nonprofit corporation, sued the Army in 2000 to seek preparation of an EIS. The Army was forced under a federal court agreement to stop firing live ammunition in the valley in 2001 until it completed an environmental impact study.
A draft EIS was issued in 2005 but a new draft was necessary because of developments the past three years, the Army said.
They include the impact of stationing additional Army units and Stryker combat vehicles in the valley, additional clearance of unexploded ordnance and Army responses to a 2007-08 biological opinion regarding Makua, the Army said.
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said early today he couldn't comment on the specifics because the EIS hadn't yet been made available to the public.
"But the fact that they have come out with a supplemental draft EIS suggests that they recognize that the document they came out with in 2005 was inadequate, which is something we agree with.
"The army should be looking at alternatives to training at Makua. They have not trained there for seven of the last 10 years, during which time the 25th Infantry Division has been able to deploy to combat successfully many times without using Makua, which makes it clear to anyone viewing the situation objectively that Makua is not essential to readiness.
"In the Stryker decision, the Army promised the public that it would look at alternatives of building a replacement facility at Pohakuloa on the Island of Hawaii and that is one of the many things that they ought to be doing in the supplemental draft."
The Army would conduct more studies as part of a Supplemental Marine Resources Study to meet requirements in a January 2007 settlement between Malama Makua through its counsel Earthjustice and the Army, according to the draft EIS.
The new study would expand upon findings of the earlier marine resources study and focus on sampling and analysis of shellfish to determine whether consumable shellfish resources near Makua Beach are contaminated because of the training activities.
The public has 45 days to comment on the supplemental draft, online at www.garrison. hawaii.army.mil/makuaeis, by fax to 808-656-3162, e-mail to email@example.com, or by mail to:
Attn: Makua EIS-Public Comments, USAG-HI Public Affairs Office, 742 San Santos Dumont, WAAF, Schofield Barracks, HI 96857.
The public comment period ends Nov. 3. A final EIS will be published after the comment period incorporating the public comments.