Marines back off plans to increase training in Kalaupapa

| July 24, 2012 | 9 Comments

A Hawaiian cultural site built by Walter Ritte, Lori Buchanan and their respective ohanas protests the military plans for Molokai Airport. After a blessing a kapu was place and a kuahu to signify the opposition to the planned fuel depot. Photo courtesy of Walter Ritte.


The U.S. Marines will not increase its helicopter training in Kalaupapa following opposition to the plan from the National Park Service, the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and local residents.

But plans for the military to build a fuel depot at Molokai Airport are still being considered despite protests by locals.

A report in yesterday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser said that the Marines wanted to significantly increase the number of takeoffs and landings at the remote airport in Kalaupapa. The Marines’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement proposed 1,388 takeoffs and landings to prepare to bring MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey and Huey attack-utility helicopter squadrons to Hawaii. The Marines agreed to keep that number at 112.

Stephen Prokop, superintendent for the NPS at Kalaupapa expressed concern for the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal population. About seven monk seal pups are born at Kalaupapa each year. He also discussed the overall impact this activity could have.

“The Marines’ environmental impact statement draft that they shared was strongly opposed by the park service for a place as special and scared to the history and people of Hawaii as Kalaupapa is,” Prokop said. “Most importantly, the lifestyle and privacy of the patient community at Kalaupapa would have been severely impacted.”

For many of the same reasons, the DLNR also expressed its opposition to increasing the use of Osprey helicopters at Kalaupapa.

Local activist and OHA candidate Walter Ritte has spoken against military presence on Molokai. Ritte and Lori Buchanan, a member of the Molokai Planning Commission and head of the Molokai Invasive Species Committee, organized a protest against the fuel depot at the airport. They constructed an ahu (stone altar) at the location of the proposed fuel depot, calling the site “kapu” (forbidden).

“Molokai’s pretty quiet compared to Oahu, so this is a big deal for us,” said Ritte.

“It’s a statement that we have cultural significance there, that they cannot disregard what the people have been telling them,” Buchanan said. “We represent people who do not want any military presence on Molokai.”

Category: Hawaiian Culture, Kalaupapa and Father Damien, News

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  1. mkklolo says:

    One of the few times I will agree with Ritte. Noisy choppers on Kalaupapa is a real desecration and a continuing source of nuisance to the remaining survivors living there. At the Molokai Airport, the noise would impact the entire central and western island. The noise from the choppers travels for many miles.

    I just wish Walter would come out against the noisy, ugly windmills instead of his whishy-washy “Maybe, if the deal is right.” that he shared in the roundtable with Dan Boylan, Kanoho Helm, Robin Kaye and Ms. de Jetley. Makes you wonder what he’s really up to.

    Come on Walter, stand up with the rest of the island on this. Windmills are “sustainable” only with government subsidies and that is the only reason that the big investors are in it. I might even vote for you for the OHA seat if you do…wouldn’t that be revolutionary?

  2. Bev says:

    mkklolo;
    I totally agree with you on all points, except I am not elegible to vote in Hawaii. However, I do pay property taxes, big time.

    We all are wondering about Ritte’s reluctance to come out against the wind turbines. Some greasing of the palms, perhaps?

  3. kalaniua ritte says:

    he is not for wind mills…more dire problems like monsanto/micogen poisoning the island and its people with their products and pesticides are his focus right now…a man can have only so much on his plate

    • invitedmedia says:

      ua, how come ‘dad’ doesn’t take to the computer? he surely has his haters, but you can see here he has supporters as well.

      running for office as he is these days makes this an opportune time.

      btw- i think i’ve lived to see it all now… only a few weeks ago mkklolo agreed with ua on something, and now braddah waltah :)

      lonely isle, you have just grown another inch taller.

      • molokainews says:

        Actually, Walter has entered the world of social media. He has become active on Facebook with his Walter for OHA page. But in reality he seems (in my humble opinion) to be much more effective and comfortable communicating face-to-face.

  4. mkklolo says:

    Can understand Walter’s priorities may be slanted toward the seed corn producers but he did make a statement on that PBS interview that “…if the deal is right…” If he actually is against windfarms, he should clarify his response to Dan Boylan’s question so we will know before the election.

    As for his entry into the world of social media, he and all the rest of you are welcome to let Mark Zuckerberg collect and sell all that information about YOU, making tons of money in the process. This trog does not do facebook. Don’t get Zucked!

    • molokainews says:

      I saw that PBS interview. Before Pattern Energy came on the scene, Walter and Karen Holt were trying to get help from First Wind to purchase Molokai Ranch land and create a community-based windmill operation. First Wind even pledged $50 million at one point. I think that is why Walter remains open to the idea. If the conditions were right and the people of Molokai could control the windmills he would probably support it. There is no evidence, though, of palms being greased.

      Concerning Facebook: Sure Zuckerberg now controls the personal information of millions. But like it or not, Facebook is still an amazingly effective way to communicate with “friends.”

      • mkklolo says:

        This trog still likes email…private for the most part (except for NSA and friends). Be aware that pressing that “f” button or “liking” something can transmit your computer/browser/ip address info as well as everything on the page you are browsing, including private stuff like passwords and credit card info, even if you are in the https:// mode. Big brother is watching.

  5. steve says:

    don’t you just love reading comment sections on the internets?

    where else can the subject matter go from ‘the marines re-think their moloka’i plans’ and end up centered around what appears to be a simple defoliated tree in the upper right of the story photo above really being a facebook/nsa sponsored surveillance antenna beaming its signal directly at the pune mkklolo is sitting on.

    lol from 1/4 way around da’ world.

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