By Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2020

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - The U.S. Army has requested public input for an upcoming environmental impact statement to retain a lease on Hawaii state land used for training.

The military’s 65-year lease at the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island is set to expire in 2029, West Hawaii Today reported Sunday.

The training area covers nearly 36 square miles (93 square kilometers) about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Hilo.

The area is the largest contiguous live-fire range and maneuver training area in the state and is in an area called the Saddle, between the mountain peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

The land has been used for military training since 1943, and the property has been leased by the Army since 1964. The military paid $1 for the 65-year lease.

Retaining the lease is necessary to continue operations to meet training requirements, the Army said.

The environmental impact statement will evaluate the potential effects of a range of alternatives, including a no-action option, full lease retention, modified lease retention and minimum lease retention and access, the Army said.

“Like any property lease, the negotiation for a new lease can begin at the will of the tenant, the U.S. Army in this case, and the first step is to conduct a thorough review of the environmental impacts, including natural and cultural,” Pohakuloa Training Area Public Affairs Officer Michael Donnelly said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which leases the land to the Army, said Friday it was reviewing the Army’s notice of intent to prepare the environmental document.

The Army plans to hold a virtual meeting Sept. 23 to allow participants to view online presentations and call with comments.

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