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Army wants helicopter training on the Big Island

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 4:58 a.m. HST, Jan 20, 2011

HILO — The Army wants to train soldiers in high-altitude helicopter maneuvers on the Big Island in preparation for an Afghanistan deployment.

An Army environmental assessment says the Schofield Barracks-based 25th Combat Aviation Brigade would run training exercises from Pohakuloa Training Area to landing zones on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.

The Mauna Kea Management Board is criticizing the proposal, saying the drills would essentially expand Pohakuloa Training Area by 8,000 acres on Mauna Kea and 36,000 acres on Mauna Loa.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is concerned the helicopters could strike nene and other endangered birds and create unacceptable noise levels for park wildlife and visitors.

West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday the Army is accepting written comments through the end of this week.

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