LIHUE, HAWAII — The Hawaii Army National Guard is withdrawing a plan to expand an ocean danger zone surrounding a rifle range in southwest Kauai.
The Garden Island reported Tuesday that a spokesman for the Hawaii Army National Guard says a project manager mistakenly increased the size of the area of Pacific Ocean to be off-limits during target practice at Kekaha Range Facility.
The Army Corps of Engineers is rescinding its public notice for the plan at the request of the Guard, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Charles Anthony said.
“A project manager had increased the size (of the danger zone) beyond what we had seen in the earlier drafts,” Anthony said. “We will be making up a proposal with a much smaller footprint.”
Public notice for an expanded zone of 6 miles wide of ocean waters was posted May 9. The danger zone during live target practice has been roughly 1 mile wide for decades.
The proposal drew questions and concerns from community members through open public comments. Part of the criticism is over whether the range is too close to the beach.
Fisherman and surfer Greg Holzman said he’s happy to hear that the proposal has been revoked. He said he wants discussion to continue on whether the location is appropriate.
“We’re all just looking for a safer range,” Holzman said. “We just have different ideas on how to accomplish it.”
The range was built after the National Guard bought the 68-acre property in 1957.
When asked whether the Guard has considered moving the range, Anthony said there are limited places to put it.
“Once you have an established range, it’s probably better to stay there than to try and find a parcel somewhere else,” Anthony said.