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Hawaii Acts to Prevent Encroachment

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040528-19 Release Date: 5/28/2004 10:44:00 AM

By Journalist 1st Class Daniel Calderon, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The Hawaii Land Board decided, at a meeting held on Kauai May 24, that operations at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Kauai won't be impeded by development until at least 2029.

After hearing testimony from dozens of Kauai residents, the panel voted to approve the Navy's request for an easement and lease that ensures the state-owned land surrounding the base will continue to be used for agriculture. The 5,371-acre easement prohibits any development or activity other than farming in the area, known as the Mana Plain. Additionally, the state granted the Navy a 270-acre lease to serve as a security buffer around the base.

The agreement is "necessary to maintaining our nation's ability to conduct military research in an isolated area, unfettered by development," said Rear Adm. Barry McCullough, commander, Navy Region Hawaii.

The decision followed months of negotiations between the Navy and the state.

The Navy became concerned about the possibility for development on the Mana Plain after Kekaha Sugar closed in 2000. Although the state-owned land was leased to other farmers, Navy officials said they feared it was only a matter of time until developers petitioned the Land Board to do otherwise.

"In recent years, military bases around the world have struggled to continue meaningful training operations and research as areas adjacent were developed," said McCullough. "But PMRF still has the good fortune of being surrounded by agricultural land, which is an ideal neighbor for a military installation."

Although the board did agree to the Navy's request, it attached several conditions, including a 25-year time limit and a clause that would protect Native Hawaiian burial sites.

The agreement "ensures that farming can continue on the Mana Plain, without pressure to sell out to developers," McCullough said. "And it ensures that PMRF can continue to perform its mission that is so vital to our national security."

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