State high court considers Army training grounds case

HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii state Supreme Court is considering a case in which plaintiffs have said the state has not enforced the terms of a lease for U.S. Army training grounds.

The court heard arguments in the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling that the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources failed to properly care for the Pohakuloa Training Area, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

The area is a 156 square-mile property on Hawaii Island used for combat and live-fire training. The state owns 31 square miles of the outpost leased to the Army in 1964 for 65 years for $1.

Oahu Circuit judge Gary Chang ordered the state last year to provide a written stewardship plan, regular monitoring and inspections, inspection reports with recommendations, and procedures for addressing violations and debris removal plans.

The Army should be the party to decide whether there is a breach of duty, said Ewan C. Raynor, Hawaii’s deputy solicitor general.

The state court’s oversight is limited by the fact the U.S. government is not one of the parties in the case, according to Raynor, who argued the case belongs in federal court.

The state is ultimately responsible for making sure trust lands are properly maintained, argued David Kimo Frankel, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs Clarence Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio are Hawaiian cultural practitioners.