Army plan's impact on preserve questioned
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i is concerned that a planned expansion of Schofield Barracks could extend into Honouliuli Preserve the home of more than 70 rare and endangered species.
"Protection of rare species and the native forests in which they live is our No. 1 concern," the conservation group's O'ahu director, Pauline Sato, said last night at the first of a series of O'ahu meetings to discuss the Army's plan to create a fast-strike brigade in Hawai'i.
The 25th Infantry Division (Light) is proposing to buy at least 1,500 additional acres south of Schofield Barracks for a small-arms firing range and motor pool. The change is but one element of a $693 million plan to bring 380 eight-wheeled armored vehicles to O'ahu as part of an Interim Brigade Combat Team.
The Army is gathering public comment to incorporate into its environmental impact statement.
Sato said that in 2001, the 3,700-acre Honouliuli Preserve, extending across the southern end of the Wai'anae range, was designated a critical habitat for the O'ahu 'elepaio, an endangered forest bird. There are also Hawaiian cultural sites in the preserve, which is on land leased from Campbell Estate, she said.
Sato said the planned land purchase, which remains to be delineated by the Army, would affect the northern portion of the preserve.
At the outset of last night's meeting at Leilehua High School in Wahiawa, Col. Chuck Waggoner, the 3rd Brigade commander, told the gathering: "We really want to know what all of your concerns are."
There were 23 people who signed in at the meeting, and four spoke.
Marty Ortogero from Mililani Mauka asked if aircraft like C-130 transports would be stationed at Wheeler Army Airfield. Waggoner said the Wheeler runway and parking areas will be reinforced but "there's no plan to base C-130s at Wheeler" and it will be essentially "the same thing you see now, only we'll be able to land them and park them at Wheeler."
Kyle Kajihiro, program director of the American Friends Service Committee, said Schofield training areas, much like the Makua Military Reservation, have not gone through the complete procedure leading to an environmental impact statement, "so we don't have an environmental baseline."
"So I would request this EIS include a thorough cumulative impact analysis," Kajihiro said.
A draft of the impact statement is expected to be completed by February 2003, while a "record of decision" is expected by October of that year.
Reach William Cole at 525-5459 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: Col. Chuck Waggoner is commander of the Army's 3rd Brigade. His name was misspelled in a previous version of this story.