The military hasn't fired a shot in the valley since 2004 as a result of a lawsuit brought against it by Earthjustice on behalf of local activist group Malama Makua. Since then the Army has worked to remove unexploded bombs around 22 ancient Hawaiian cultural sites, as well as hosted “cultural access ” days led by Malama Makua members twice a month.
In October, U.S. Army Pacific leadership signed a memorandum stating there are no plans to resume that training, and on Thursday in a joint statement submitted to Hawaii's federal district court, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said the military would “no longer need to conduct live-fire training at (Makua Military Reservation), now or in the future, and, therefore, no new (unexploded ordnance ) will be added to MMR.”
On Friday, Malama Makua held a news conference in the parking lot of the training area celebrating the agreement as rain drizzled. Amid the backdrop of the vast green valley, Malama Makua board member Karen Young, widow of the late Malama Makua co-founder Fred Dodge, said she was “cautiously ecstatic “—happy, but also worried that the promises made in court wouldn't be kept.
The valley holds particular significance for Hawaiian cultural practitioners….