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Pohakuloa Training Area

Background

Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) is located on the island of Hawaiʻi in the high plateau between Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Hualālai volcanic mountains. It includes a small military airstrip known as Bradshaw Army Airfield. The 108,863 acre (440.55 km2) base is the largest United States Department of Defense (DOD) installation in the state of Hawaiʻi, or anywhere in the Pacific, and has become a symbol of U.S. military occupation of the Hawaiian archipelago.

The region was used for live fire exercises in 1943 during World War II when Camp Tarawa temporarily held troops on Parker Ranch. Weapons such as the Davy Crockett nuclear rifle with dummy warheads and depleted Uranium have been used at PTA in more recent years. After initial DOD denials, an investigation concluded that spotting rounds were used in the 1960s. Measurements detected radiation, but reportedly not above life-threatening levels.

In 2014, two Native Hawaiians, Clarence Kū Ching and Mary Maxine Kahaulelio, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) arguing that the state breached its duty to protect ceded lands at the Pōhakuloa Training Area. They also sought to prevent DLNR from negotiating an extension to its current lease or entering a new lease until the trust conditions are met. Trials began in 2015 and the case is ongoing.

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