UPDATED 11/23/11 12:30 p.m.

The Outdoor Circle, a well-known environmental group in Hawaii, has voted to oppose Honolulu’s elevated rail project and is considering joining a federal lawsuit against the $5.2 billion project.

In a position paper posted on its website, the group says it has decided the proposed rail line is “too destructive.”

“In our 100 year history The Outdoor Circle (TOC) has seen no other venture that holds the potential to degrade the landscape of Oahu as the proposed Honolulu Rail Transit project,” the group says.

As of this summer, the advocacy organization had not taken a definitive stance against the project, but its board recently voted unanimously to oppose it.

The group’s main objections to the project are the elevated rail’s obstruction of mauka to makai views, particularly in and around downtown Honolulu, and the possible relocation or destruction of hundreds of trees.

A decision should be made shortly as to whether The Outdoor Circle will join a lawsuit filed in May seeking a court order to halt the project, said Bob Loy, the group’s director of environmental programs. The lawsuit alleges violations of federal environmental laws by city and federal agencies.

Plaintiffs in the suit include longtime rail critic Cliff Slater, former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Walter Heen, Sen. Sam Slom’s Small Business Hawaii Entrepreneurial Foundation, as well as other groups and individuals. Defendants include the Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the City of Honolulu, and its transportation director, Wayne Yoshioka.

Loy said that the decision was made after lengthy deliberations and numerous meetings with city officials who were directed to work with the organization in addressing its concerns as part of the final environmental impact statement.

Loy said it had been a “contentious relationship,” with the city.

“I think it speaks volumes that we would take this action” said Loy.

Scott Ishikawa, spokesman for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, could not immediately reached for comment.

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