U.S. Army to conduct HAMET impact tests on Mauna Kea




Media release | U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii

GARRISON-HAWAII CONDUCTS ISLAND OF HAWAII DATA COLLECTION

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii — U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) will be conducting research on aviation noise and potential natural and cultural resource impacts, March 21 through April 1, at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) and three proposed landing zones in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve.

USAG-HI, as manager and executor of all Army facilities and lands in Hawaii, is conducting the research as an additional measure to further assess potential impacts of proposed High-Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training (HAMET) on the Island of Hawaii.

“Our goal is to gather the most complete environmental data possible,” said Col. Douglas S. Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii.

The Garrison is undertaking this effort in coordination with the helicopter pilots and support crew of the 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade.

“We also want to reassure the community that we are taking their concerns very seriously.” Mulbury said. “In the comments they shared with us during the HAMET environmental assessment (EA) comment period, community members were concerned about potential training impacts to natural and cultural resources, as well as noise. The study we’re conducting will supplement the EA, and we will be able to show the community the results of our live research.”

Noise-monitoring equipment will be staged at selected locations within a five-mile radius of the three proposed landing zones on the western slope of Mauna Kea. The equipment will continuously record background levels of noise, as well as the noise levels generated by Army aircraft as they fly from PTA to briefly touch down at these landing zones, and then return to PTA.

RESEARCH 2.2.2.

Army scientists on the ground will visually monitor rotor wash and dust patterns at the landing zones. These observations are part of expanded environmental surveys, and will assess the generation of dust and potential impacts to natural and cultural resources. All flights will be dependent on weather and aircraft availability, and no flights will be conducted on holidays or weekends.

The Army will take precautions to protect areas of concern—such as the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve—while conducting the research. Modern GPS equipment will be used to navigate to the landing zones, and flight routes will be designed to avoid critical habitat and known natural and cultural resources. The Army will also brief its personnel on the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea, to include their locations and significance.

“We will be closely monitoring the aircraft, and if at any time we detect any harmful impacts to natural or cultural resources, we will stop the activities,” Mulbury said. “It’s important for the community to know that we do not take our environmental stewardship responsibility lightly.”

In December 2010, the Army released an EA for the proposed HAMET training. The EA analyzed the potential environmental impacts of HAMET. The objective of this research is to collect data from “real-world” scenarios in order to provide the Army with additional information on which to base its impacts analysis.

The Garrison will analyze the collected data and use it to determine the next steps in the environmental planning process.

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