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Makua Military Reservation (MMR)

Makua Valley is used as an infantry and artillery range. The Makua Military Reservation (MMR) is located in the western portion of Oahu near Kaena Point. The training site extends west from the Wainanae Range ridge line to the ocean, and is approximately three miles north of Makaha. State Highway 93 extends through the site along the shoreline and ends at the northern boundary of the site. The site is approximately 18 miles from Schofield Barracks via Kolekole Pass Road. Helicopter landing site exist along the area near the coast. The beach has also been used by the Marine Corps for amphibious assault operations. However, there are no piers or waterfront facilities in existence.

The Makua Training Area consists of 4,856 acres and is a combination of fee simple, ceded, and leased land. The entire training area is within a Conservation District which includes both sides of the Waianae ridge line and out to Kaena Point. The area northeast of the conservation area and the Kiaau Valley located to the south are designated agricultural districts. Further south, the Makaha Valley is designated urban land and is being developed as a resort community.

The Makua Training Area is prime turf in Hawaii - right on the North Shore coast. It's also considered holy ground to Hawaiian cultural groups. The Army appropriated the valley during World War II as a training area, and hold a lease on it from the Hawaiian government until 2025. They promised to give it back, but haven't yet, in part because they say they need an artillery range that they don't have to fly to. Without Makua the Army couldn't function on Oahu and would probably have to leave the island. But the emotional element to the Makua Valley issue is similar to the Navy's problems in Puerto Rico.

A 2001 lawsuit filed by local activists sought to block the Army from using a combined arms assault course in Makua Valley pending completion of an environmental impact statement. The Army countered that this would take two to three years and cost several million dollars. The Makua course had been shut down for nearly three years because of the suit.

The September 11 terrorist attacks prompted both sides to settle quickly. Under an 04 October 2002 settlement brokered between Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund and the Army, the Army is allowed to train in the valley as long as it completes an environmental impact statement within three years. In return, Malama Makua was granted limited visitation privileges each month and will be allowed to have its members observe what the Army does in the valley. Under the terms of the agreement, the Army can conduct 16 company-size live-fire exercises over the next year, followed by nine the following year and 12 the year after that.

Steep cliffs, which begin near the southwest corner of the property, almost surround the impact area. The cliffs are too steep to be used for maneuver exercises. The Makua area is rich in archaeological material. Nineteen separate sites have been discovered throughout the training area, two of which are being fully evaluated for consideration in being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. These two are located in the central steep cliffs near the beach. The remaining sites are positioned in the mountainous areas and along the coast. Most of the training site is covered with low shrubs and trees. Several areas in the impact area and at firing locations have been cleared of vegetation.

At present the facility is designed as a live fire maneuver area for company size units. The strip of land between the ocean and the state highway is open to the public when firing or maneuvers are not being conducted. At Makua, physical restrictions include the several historical sites, the lack of acreage to effectively accomplish battalion sized training missions, and insufficient range distance to fire the largest artillery weapons at maximum range.

Use of Makua Valley by the US Army was granted initially in May 1943 by Territorial Government of Hawaii by Revocable Permit No. 200. On 17 August, 1964 (within the 5-year period set out in the Hawaiian Statehood Act). President Johnson signed Executive Order 11166 setting aside the United States that area which comprises the major portion of the entire training area. As to that portion of the training area not set aside by the Executive Order, a lease arrangement was entered into on 17 August, 1964 between the Assistant Secretary of the Army and the Bureau of Land and Natural Resources, State of Hawaii, whereby the U. S . Government obtained control and use of the remaining area for a period of 65 years, a period ending in the year 2029. It has been used extensively since 1943 as a live fire area. The valley has been subjected to air bombing, ship to shore firing, amphibious operations and live firing of all infantry and artillery weapons.

Because the area has been used so extensively of the past 47 years, the entire reservation is dotted with unexploded ordnance. The first recorded dedudding operation in MMR occurred in 1950 for the purpose of returning some of the training lands to civilian use. The engineer clearing team dedudded approximately 1200 acres of the MMR embracing the land from the seashore inland for 1000 yards. Extensive variety of explosive materials were discovered and destroyed during the operations and a precedence for dedudding operations was set. First, all undergrowth of brush was burned off followed by searching for surface duds for collection of demolition in place. In June 1963, the Army cleared and dedudded a corridor for an extension of Farrington Highway. In October 1974, another extensive clearing operation was conducted in MMR concentration in the Kahanahaiki Valley. In 1985 until the present, the most extensive clearing operation has taken place in preparation of the construction of the Company Combined Arms Assault Course.

The U.S. Army, Hawaii proposes to conduct a phytoremediation demonstration project at Makua Military Reservation (MMR), Island of Oahu, using soils from the former open burn/open detonation (OB/OD) unit at MMR. Open burning/open detonation was an accepted practice for disposing of unusable military ordnance at MMR up until 1992 when operations ceased. Phytoremediation is a remedial action technology that utilizes plants to help extract and reduce undesirable chemicals that may be detrimental to the land use for which it is being utilized. The objectives of this project are to: 1) demonstrate the effectiveness of plants, unique to the Asia-Pacific region, to bioaccumulate and biodegrade contamination resulting from past military operations; 2) aid in the transfer of this phytoremediation technology to other areas in the Asia-Pacific region that require similar commercial, private sector applications; and 3) expand education and outreach by helping to re-train agricultural employees in agriculturally-based remediation programs through hands-on application of this project. The goal of this demonstration project is to transfer technology that has been successful on the continental United States to the Asia-Pacific Basin. It should be noted that this project is not being performed as a Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action nor is it the Army's intent at this time to clean-up the site at which the demonstration will occur (i.e., Makua Military Reservation).

 



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