Draft study on
Makua Valley ready

After more than four years, the Army has completed a draft environmental impact statement justifying continued use of Makua Valley.

Capt. Juanita Chang, Schofield Barracks spokeswoman, said yesterday that the draft EIS should be sent out for public comment within the next few weeks.

In anticipation of its release, Col. Howard Killian, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, will host a series of meetings to talk about the process.

The meetings will begin at 7 p.m. next Thursday at Nanaikapono Elementary School and 2 p.m. June 25 at Waianae District Park.

In October 2001 the Army was allowed to resume live-fire training in the 4,190-acre Leeward Coast valley, which had been suspended for three years while legal battles ensued on its continued use.

The limited live-fire exercises were agreed to by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, one of the opponents to the training, because the Army decided to prepare the more comprehensive EIS.

The deal allowed for cultural access to the Waianae Valley, home to at least 40 endangered species. It also allowed Malama Makua to place observers to watch the training to ensure that cultural and historical sites are protected.

Chang said the Army hopes to resume live-fire training under the current agreement in the fall.

That agreement prohibits the use of rockets; tube-launched, optically tracked and wire-guided missiles; and other incendiary devices. These weapons and ammunition were believed to have caused the majority of fires in the valley in the past.

Earthjustice had sued, challenging the Army's claims in its supplemental environmental assessment that its modified training program will not threaten the endangered species and 100 cultural sites in the valley.

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