map of makua
Resistance. For more information about the movement to free Makua click here.
Paradise Lost A National Radio Project piece on Makua by Samson Reiny.
Makua Means Parents, by Marion Kelly and Nancy Aleck, Published by the American Friends Service Committee Hawai’i Area Program, 1997.
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Makua Valley is a 4,190-acre valley located on the dry leeward side of the Waianae Mountains on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawaii. The valley contains more than 40 endangered plant and animal species. Abundant archaeological evidence suggests that Makua Valley had a thriving Hawaiian community during pre-contact days. Makua Valley is said to be a sacred place to native Hawaiians, the mythic birthplace of the Hawaiian people.
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army confiscated 6,600 acres in and around the valley to train troops for World War II, evicting ranchers who lived there. In 1964, the Army returned 2,400 acres to the state of Hawaii. The Army still occupies nearly 4,200 acres today.
For decades, the Army and the other services carried out training exercises in Makua Valley. In recent years, however, the training has drawn protests from residents and, increasingly, the attention of federal regulators.
The fires that prompted the Army to suspend training in September 1998 raised concerns among officials with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service about the threat posed to 41 endangered species of plants and animals in or near the valley. Hui Malama O Makua, a group of concerned citizens, and the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit demanding that the Army comply with the National Environmental Policy Act and conduct a thorough review of the impact that training was having on the valley.
The Army ultimately settled the lawsuit, agreeing not to resume firing weapons in Makua until it had reviewed any potential impact and notified the public in advance. After more than two years of study, the Army announced in December 2000 that it planned to resume training, though in a more limited way, with units of more than 100 soldiers conducting operations and firing weapons in narrowly drawn zones.
The 25th Division’s commanders argued that they had designed the training to minimize, if not eliminate, the effects on Makua Valley’s historic sites and environment, but the plan provoked a new round of protests and a new lawsuit. Hui Malama contended that the Army had failed to conduct a more rigorous and expensive environmental impact study. The less time-consuming environmental assessment, they said, did not consider a variety of issues, including whether there were alternative sites for military training.
After protests that included a raucous community meeting in the town of Waianae in January 2001, the division’s commanders withdrew their plan, saying they wanted more time to consult with residents and others. The Army also tried to have the lawsuit dismissed, but on March 1, 2001 a federal judge in Honolulu refused.
Army live-fire training had been stopped in Makua Valley from 1998 to 2001.
Recognizing the potential need for increased for training as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, an agreement was reached in October 2001 to return to live-fire training on the Pilila’au Range Complex in Makua Valley, located on the island of Oahu. The agreement was reached between U.S. Army, Hawaii and Earth Justice. The agreement with Earth Justice permits the Army to resume training in Makua Valley immediately. In return, the Army agrees to prepare an environmental impact statement within three years. The Army will train on 457 acres of the valley. Makua Valley encompasses about 4,190 acres. The settlement allows the Army’ 25th Infantry Division (Light) to conduct limited live-fire training during the preparation of the EIS, during the first year after the agreement, the division will conduct 16 company-level, live-fire exercises, nine in the second year and 12 in the third year. The agreement also allows Malama Makua, the individuals who hired the legal firm Earth Justice, the opportunity to have at least one observer at all training done at Makua.
On July 22, 2003 the Army lost control of a prescribed burn that scorched 2,100 acres – reigniting criticism of the Army’s more than 50-year use of the land for training. The fire burned approximately 150 acres of unoccupied O’ahu Elepaio Critical Habitat on Army lands and approximately six acres of O’ahu Plant Critical Habitat on adjoining state lands.
In March 2004, Malama Makua filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Marines’ operations violated a 2001 federal court settlement with the Army, which controls the firing range. The lawsuit was dropped after the Army agreed to certain restrictions that reduced the number of mortar rounds to be fired and imposed conditions to allow the exercise only under certain environmental and weather conditions.
In June 2005, after more than four years, the Army has completed a draft environmental impact statement justifying continued use of Makua Valley.
In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin article, date July 22,2005, Malama Makua responded to the contents of the draft EIS that will undergo public scrutiny before being finalized:
….the Army did not consider moving the training to the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, Schofield Barracks or another location on Oahu, or the continental United States, said David Henkin, an attorney for Malama Makua’s law firm, EarthJustice.
During 2002 meetings on what should be included in the environmental report, Waianae residents strongly urged the Army to look at other locations, Henkin said.
The Army also did not conduct archaeological surveys of all the Makua Valley areas that were expected for the study, said Malama Makua spokesman Fred Dodge.
“The EIS is supposed to give the Army and the public the information they need to decide whether to allow training at Makua,” Dodge said. “That’s why, when we settled our lawsuit, we insisted that the Army agree to carry out comprehensive archaeological surveys of the areas where misfired mortar or artillery shells could destroy cultural sites. The Army’s failure to hold up its end of the bargain makes this EIS useless for making an informed decision about training at Makua.” 
In September 2006, a defense authorization bill was enacted that included a provision authored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie that asks the Army to prepare a report to Congress by March 1, 2007 on its training plans in Hawaii, including alternatives to Makua Valley. The Pohakuloa training area on the Big Island is the only other training in Hawaii and is a more expensive alternative. The Abercrombie provision also asks the Pentagon to plan for ending its use of Makua Valley. 
* Akana, Rowena. Makua was no victory for Hawaiians Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 9-25-97.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Makua — Activists fight the Army’s plan to resume training in the valley Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 1-19-01.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Tragedy in New York lifts Makua impasse — A settlement allows the Army to resume live- fire exercises Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 10-05-01.
* Hawaiian community settles with U.S. Army over live-fire training ENN, Oct. 9, 2001.
* Leone, Diana. Makua fire draws group’s ire — The Army expects by next week to have a report on how valley wildlife was affected Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7-27-03.
* Reyes, B.J. Army treads Makua lightly Legislative proposals in Congress would create exemptions for environmental laws Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 10-26-03.
* Leone, Diana. Makua training resumes Dec. 8 — The Army announces live-fire maneuvers are needed for troops bound for Afghanistan Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 11-27-03.
* Dunford, Bruce. Live-fire training gets test in court — A federal judge is weighing its impact on Makua Valley Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 3-19-04.
* Barayuga, Debra. Marines barred from Makua — A federal judge halts next week’s planned exercises and sets an April 19 hearing Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 3-20-04.
* Associated Press. Army insists Makua is crucial — Military officials say the Leeward valley offers the only locale for necessary live-fire exercises Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 3-21-04.
* Kakesako, Gregg. Marines complete exercise at Makua The live-fire training had to be scaled back because of conditions in a legal settlement Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 4-10-04.
* Kakesako, Gregg. Draft study on Makua Valley ready Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 6-16-05.
* Leone, Diana. Malama Makua says Army reneging — A draft plan does not consider alternative live-fire training sites Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7-22-05.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Critics fight Army’s Makua plans — Military attorneys say live-fire training is required to ready troops for Iraq duty Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 12-1-05.
* Kobayashi, Ken. Army may face uphill battle over Makua Honolulu Advertiser, January 24, 2006.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Judge bans live-fire training at Makua — The Army says soldiers will fire blanks instead Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 2-3-06.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Nurturing Makua — A native Hawaiian botanist relishes an Army job caring for rare species on a war-game range Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 2-5-06.
* Live-fire training not an urgent need THE ISSUE: A federal judge has forbidden the Army from live-fire drills in Makua Valley until completion of an environmental study. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 2-6-06.
* Advertiser staff. Soldiers returning to Makua, but now they’re firing blanks Honolulu Advertiser, February 9, 2006.
* Cole, William. Mortar round killed soldier Honolulu Advertiser, March 15, 2006.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Army delays Makua burnings — The controlled fires were meant to help complete a survey Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June 20, 2006.
* Military is asked to prepare land givebacks — Abercrombie adds Kalaeloa and Makua to the defense bill Honolulu Star-Bulletin, September 30, 2006.
* OUR OPINION: Army needs to justify further use of Makua Valley THE ISSUE: Congress has enacted a defense authorization bill that asks the Pentagon to plan to end the use of Makua Valley as a training area. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 4, 2006.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Stryker base here is found illegal — Plaintiffs claim the Army must halt related work while preparing a supplemental study Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 6, 2006.
* OUR OPINION: Why not answer ‘Why Hawaii?’ for Stryker brigade? THE ISSUE: A federal appeals court has ruled that the Army violated environmental law by not properly considering alternatives to Hawaii for its Stryker brigade. Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 8, 2006.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Makua alternatives to be in Army report — An impact statement will come this year, the Pacific leader says Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 5, 2007.
* Kakesako, Gregg K. Army makes public Makua Valley studies — Marine resource and archaeological reports both find little impact Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 11, 2007.
* Shikina, Robert. Army faces questions on studies of Makua — The two studies remain available for public comment until April 3 Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 25, 2007.
* Oshiro, Joleen. Makua — Fifteen local artists explore the subject of Makua Valley in an exhibit at the Academy Art Center Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 1, 2007.
* Hoover, Will. Army ordered to step up its efforts on Makua access Honolulu Advertiser”, March 12, 2008.
* Associated press. Earthjustice claims win in Makua military lawsuit Honolulu Star-Bulletin”, March 12, 2008.