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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 27, 2002

Target isle will remain risky

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

WAILUKU, Maui — When the Navy turns Kaho'olawe over to the state in a year and a half, the plan is to develop trails, campsites and cultural education centers for visitors.

But don't plan on any spur-of-the-moment overnighters to the former military bombing range.

Access to the newly established cultural preserve will continue to be restricted and closely monitored for safety reasons under a plan approved yesterday by the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission.

Keoni Fairbanks, commission executive director, said the Kaho'olawe Access & Risk Management Plan acknowledges that a sizable portion of the island will remain burdened by unexploded ordnance when the Navy hands over control in November 2003.

That means many areas will remain off-limits, and other rules will be instituted to limit access, curtail liability and prevent accidents, including restrictions on where children can go and how many adults must accompany them.

According to the plan, access will be limited to certain groups, such as the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana, which will be required to file safety and logistics plans with the commission.

In addition, trained and certified guides will be required for travel to designated parts of the island.

Coordinating the movement of people in the reserve will be an operations center established at the former Navy base camp at Honokanai'a.

The center also will oversee the operations and maintenance of the island's facilities.

Commercial and recreational fishing will continue to be prohibited in the waters closest to shore, and waters farther out will continue to be open only two weekends per month.

All vessels trolling in the 2-mile reserve must register and submit catch reports to the commission.

Under the plan, there will be several cultural education centers and work camps designated for larger groups.

They would be at Hakioawa, Kuheia-Kaulana, Luamakika and Honokanai'a.

Overnight campsites for smaller groups will serve as resting places or campsites for those traveling between shoreline destinations or to upland locales.

They would be at Papakanui, Ahupu, Honoko'a and Kealaika-hiki-Keanakeiki.

A circle-island coastal trail is planned, but the level of ordnance cleanup along the trail is not great, Fairbanks said, so it will be clearly marked with rocks to keep hikers on the trail.

With money for capital improvements outlined in the document uncertain, the plan will see an incremental phase-in.

"It's not like we'll open the gates to a park,'' said Stanton Enomoto, the commission's remediation program manager. "It's going to take time.''