(BIVN) – A plan to retain up to approximately 23,000 acres of state-owned land at Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) in support continued military training will be analyzed in an environmental impact statement, the U.S. Army announced.
One year ago, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court affirmed an April 2018 circuit court ruling that the State of Hawaiʻi breached its trust duties in regards to its Pōhakuloa Training Area lease. Clarence “Ku” Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio took the Hawaiʻi Department / Board of Land and Natural Resources to court in 2014, after the state was unable to provide any records that DLNR was “ensuring compliance with this term of the 1964 lease” to the United States military.
From the Public Affairs Officer of the US Army Garrison Hawaiʻi at Pōhakuloa Training Area on Friday, September 4:
The U.S. Army intends to prepare an environmental impact statement to analyze its proposal to retain up to approximately 23,000 acres of state-owned land at Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) to support continued military training.
The area has been used routinely for military training since 1943, and the state-owned land has been leased by the Army since 1964. PTA is the largest contiguous live-fire range and maneuver training area in the state and is located between Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Hualālai on the island of Hawai‘i. Of the 132,810 acres at PTA, approximately 23,000 are leased from the state. The current 65-year lease is set to expire in August 2029.
Over the past six decades, the state-owned land has been the keystone of PTA, supporting numerous training facilities and capabilities essential to the U.S. Army and other military services, as well as local law enforcement and emergency response agencies.
The state-owned land contains maneuver land and key training facilities, some of which are not available elsewhere in the Pacific region and provides access between major parcels of U.S. government-owned land. Retaining the land would enable U.S. Army Hawaii to continue to conduct military training on the state-owned land to meet its current and future training requirements.
The EIS scoping process is an opportunity to introduce the project and to solicit input on the scope of analysis for the EIS.
Federal, state and local agencies, Native Hawaiian organizations and the public are invited to participate in the scoping process for the EIS.
Written comments can be submitted during the scoping period, Sept. 4, 2020, to Oct. 14, 2020, online at [here], by email to email@example.com, or by mail to: ATLR PTA EIS Comments, P.O. Box 3444, Honolulu, HI 96801-3444. Comments must be mailed or submitted by Oct. 14, 2020, to be considered in preparation of the EIS.
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for social distancing and avoiding large public gatherings, the Army will hold a virtual scoping opportunity for this action. An online scoping open house is scheduled Sept. 23, 2020, starting at 4 p.m. Participants will be able to:
1) View online presentations [here].
2) Call (808) 300-0220 to submit oral comments from 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. (only on September 23).
The EIS will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act. A notice of intent has been published in the Federal Register to announce the Army’s preparation of the EIS and to begin the NEPA scoping period. An EIS preparation notice is also being published in the state Office of Environmental Quality Control’s publication, The Environmental Notice, to begin the HEPA scoping period.
For more information or accessibility requests, please contact Mr. Michael Donnelly, PTA Public Affairs Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 969-2411.