The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state has not properly managed lands leased to the military on the Big Island.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources leases more than 20,000 acres of land in Pohakuloa to the military for training for just $1 a year. Part of the military’s lease states that DLNR must monitor activities and ensure that trash and unexploded ordnance is removed.

Cultural practitioners who use the land found spent shell casings and other ordnance, the opinion says.

“As trustee, the State must take an active role in preserving trust property and may not passively allow it to fall into ruin,” the high court wrote in its 101-page opinion.

The large parcel of land was once part of more than 2 million acres owned by the Kingdom of Hawaii. Those lands were transferred to the state, and most are managed by DLNR.

The opinion Friday affirms a lower court ruling, which stated that the state must make reasonable efforts to preserve and protect the land.

The Supreme Court ruling also affirmed a Circuit Court order that the state must develop a plan for on-site inspections.

Read the full opinion below.



Kahaulelio V. DLNR (Text)

Will you help us?

There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing unbiased, investigative journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?

About the Author