Hawaii Supreme Court considers Army training grounds case

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Supreme Court is considering a case in which plaintiffs say 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 state Department of Land and Natural Resources failed to properly care for Pohakuloa Training Area.

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The area is a 156-square-mile property. 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, the state’s deputy solicitor general. The court’s oversight is limited by the fact the federal government is not one of the parties in the case, according to Raynor, who argued the case belongs in federal court.

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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.

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