Army seeks comments
on Makua Valley plan
The deadline for the public
to review an impact statement
is pushed back
The Army has extended the public comment period for the Makua Valley military reservation draft environmental impact statement to Oct. 6.
Col. Howard Killian, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii commander, said the extension is "a good-faith effort" to allow the public more time to review the documents and provide feedback regarding the impact statement.
The 25th Infantry Division, under a 2001 federal court settlement with Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, is allowed to conduct a limited amount of live-fire exercises in Makua while it completes the environmental impact statement.
Earthjustice agreed to the limited exercises because the Army decided to prepare the more comprehensive EIS. 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.
Yesterday, Maj. Stacy Bathrick, Army spokeswoman, said 25th Division officials have not asked the federal court to perform any training in Makua this fall.
However, Bathrick said the Army continuously assesses its training needs in Makua Valley. "We know that our soldiers and our units will be called upon to deploy again in support of the global war on terrorism, and Makua Valley is vital to the training of our soldiers before they deploy," she said.
The Army wants to return to full-scale live-fire training in the 456-acre valley, where company-size operations could be conducted annually using rockets, mortars and artillery. A company is composed of anywhere from 150 to 200 soldiers.
Leeward Oahu activists want the Army to close the Makua Valley training range because they say military exercises threaten endangered species and a hundred cultural sites.