Hawaii News

US Navy, NASA seek continued use of lands at Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kōkeʻe park

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The U.S. Navy and NASA want to continue using more than 8,000 acres of state land on Kaua‘i after existing real estate agreements expire in 2027 and 2030.

And they want the community to be involved in the conversation.

Kauaʻi Now file photo

The federal agencies are jointly preparing an environmental impact statement to evaluate potential environmental consequences of retaining use of a total of 8,371 acres. That includes 8,348 acres within the Pacific Missile Range Facility used by the Navy and NASA’s use of 23 acres in Kōkeʻe State Park.

Continued use of the lands is necessary for the Navy to have operational continuity and sustainment at the Pacific Missile Range Facility and for continued operations, including measurements of the Earth’s rotation and local land motion, by NASA at the Kōkeʻe Park Geophysical Observatory.

The agencies said public input in the initial phase of the environmental planning process is important, so any concerns the Kauaʻi community has can be identified and addressed in the environmental impact statement.

Public meetings are scheduled June 4 at the Kauaʻi Veterans Center in Līhuʻe, June 5 at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center in Kekaha and June 6 at the Sheraton Kauaʻi Coconut Beach Resort in Kapaʻa. All three will be from 5 to 8 p.m.

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The public is encouraged to attend any of the meetings to talk story, learn more about what the Navy and NASA are seeking and submit written or oral comments.

“By ensuring continued Navy and NASA operations on Kauaʻi, the real estate action would also preserve local jobs and income for the residents of Kauaʻi, financially contribute to the overall economic well-being of Kauaʻi and maintain continued conservation management of natural and cultural resources on state lands at no cost to the state of Hawaiʻi,” said the agencies in a joint press release.

The two agencies want to hear what the community has to say about their proposed real estate action, including potential alternatives, environmental or cultural concerns, information members of the public want them to know.

The environmental impact statement being prepared will evaluate potential environmental impacts to several resource areas, including archaeological and historic resources, cultural practices, visual resources, public health and safety, land use, air quality and greenhouse gases, water resources, biological resources, utilities and transportation along with hazardous materials and solid waste.

The two federal agencies also want to know if there is any other information the public wants to see addressed by the impact statement.

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The Navy operates on just 410 acres of the lands it leases or has easements for at the missile range facility. The majority of the land is intentionally undeveloped and used as an encroachment buffer and security for the range’s mission.

The Navy’s current leases and easements support mission operations, access and utilities at five general locations: the facility’s main base, Kamokalā Ridge, Mānā Water Well, Miloli‘i Ridge and Mākaha Ridge.

Kauaʻi Now file photo

NASA’s 23 acres in the state park are spread across five parcels along a 1-mile stretch of road. The agency also issued a permit allowing the Navy to use Kōkeʻe Park Geophysical Observatory to support the Pacific Missile Range Facility’s mission.

The public scoping period began May 8 and ends June 17. Those unable to attend any of the three community meetings planned and want to submit written comments should do so before the end of the scoping period.

There are three ways you can submit written comments:

  • Via the project website at PMRF-KPGO-EIS.com.
  • By email to info@PMRF-KPGO-EIS.com
  • By mail, postmarked by June 17, to: Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Hawaiʻi; Environmental OPHEV2; Attn: PMRF and KPGO RE EIS Project Manager, Ms. Kerry Wells; 400 Marshall Road, Building X-11; Pearl Harbor, HI 96860
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Preserving the long-term use of these state lands is critical for military readiness, continuation of ongoing military training and testing and maintaining data collection efforts of global and local significance.

It also ensures the continued conservation management by the Navy and NASA of natural and cultural resources on the lands.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources oversees the leases and easement to the two federal agencies for the lands in the proposal.

The Navy and NASA said the proposed real estate action presents an opportunity for the state Land Department to secure a revenue source that would support the state’s management of public lands and associated environmental and conservation programs.

Law requires that fees from leases and easements be put into a state fund.

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