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Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Waianae coast
residents protest
Army’s Makua

They cite a brush fire danger,
noise, and the impact
on native plants

By Harold Morse

Residents protested resumption of Army live-fire exercises in Makua Valley at a 2-1/2-hour meeting last night at the Waianae Army Recreation Center.

Objections were based on threats of related brush fires, noise and damage to endangered plants and animals.

Some 40 residents heard future training plans.

Several criticized the Army for not preparing an environmental impact statement on foreseen effects and instead preparing a shorter, less-detailed environmental assessment.

"It seems to me you have a potential for major impact," said Fred Dodge, a Waianae physician. "Please do an environmental impact statement."

Army spokesmen said improved safeguards will minimize wildfire danger and minimize harm to endangered species.

Ron Borne, range officer, said with planned mitigated training and firing procedures, the impact won't be as heavy as in previous years and implementation of new conservation practices will protect the environment.

Borne said an environmental impact statement would take a lot of taxpayers' money. The type of environmental assessment in preparation is sufficient, he said.

Capt. Cynthia Teramae, chief, media relations, 25th Infantry Division, responded that the Army is acting in good faith and will weigh public comments it receives before completing the environmental assessment now in draft form.

An environmental assessment provides no opportunity for public participation and is not due process, said David Henkin, attorney for the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, which sued the Army to halt training at Makua in 1998.

The City Council requested an environmental impact statement be done, Henkin added. "Put that information on the table, and then when it's on the table, we can all make that decision together," he said.

The environmental organization reached an agreement with the Army in 1999 that an environmental study would be conducted before training resumed.

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