10/20/2014 03:47 pm ET Updated Oct 20, 2014

Will Hawaii's Sacred Kahoolawe Island Ever Be Saved?

Robert Simon via Getty Images

HONOKANAIA, KAHOOLAWE — The aging military truck shudders as it lurches over the rocky trail. As the sky lightens with streaks of pink, kiawe trees emerge from the receding darkness, their branches claw-like, eerie in the dawn.

Po‘okela Hanson maneuvers the vehicle over the dirt road, leaning out the window to shine a flashlight on the ground because the headlights don’t work. It’s a feeble attempt to illuminate the unpaved path, and it almost doesn’t matter — it’s impossible to avoid the rocks and potholes that jostle the passengers on their way to a grueling day of clearing trails and identifying historic sites on the west side of Kahoolawe.

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