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Protecting Our Sacred Places

Community Contributed

Opinion by Lori Buchanan

On Molokai, the Navy is proposing to “re-activate” the abandoned Marine base in Ho`olehua, on the doorstep of homesteaders, and significantly increase military training (primarily at night) in Kalaupapa. These are two of the actions, trainings and construction around Hawaii outlined in a Draft Environmental Impact Statement released by the US Department of the Navy in November 2011.

Intermittent military training has been ongoing at Kalaupapa, the Ho`olehua Airport and along Molokai’s western and northern coastline for many years. Currently, old munitions lie buried along the Kaluakoi and Ilio Point coastlines in large numbers below several years and layers of windblown top soils. Military debris leaking cancer causing PCB’s into our west shore waters since 1960 was recently removed. Abandoned asbestos-filled coast guard stations remind us that there will always be a high price to pay for war.

Molokai’s support of our military to uphold the constitution and freedom of this country is irreproachable. We know what sacrifices need to be made in support of our military. Per capita, Molokai Island has historically had the highest number of men and women joining the U.S. military willing to give their lives for their country. My father served as a Marine in World War II, awarded two purple hearts and a bronze star. People we love deeply, returned from Vietnam scarred, but alive. Our sons and daughters are on multiple deployments to the Middle East.

Molokai supports our military, however we also need to protect the places and things that sometimes exceed all understanding. Kalaupapa is a sacred and spirit-filled kipuka not found anywhere else in the world. I am praying, and ask all others who have been touched by the living spirit of Kalaupapa to join me in asking our military and state to protect the sacred peninsula of Kalaupapa and homesteads of Ho`olehua by withdrawing their proposal for military training here.

In December 2011, I pleaded with the Navy to come to Molokai to share their project with our community and they declined. Currently, they are working on their final DEIS which will give them the green light to proceed with their plans. As part of federal law, they are currently looking at impacts to historical properties and culture called section 106 consultations that will result in a written “agreement” between the Navy and DLNR Chair William Aila in the next few weeks.

Contact DLNR Chair Aila at: dlnr.hawaii.gov and Navy consultant June Cleghorn at: june.cleghorn@usmc.mil, phone: (808) 257-7126. The next phone consultation is Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Ask June to email you notes if interested. Also, call or email the Navy’s MV-22/H-1 EIS Project Manager at: (808) 472-1196 or MCBH Public Affairs Officer, Alan Crouch at: (808) 257-8870 or email: alan.crouch@usmc.mil to voice your concerns.