Maui News

UH Responds to DLNR Independent Review of Maunakea Land Management

January 14, 2021, 9:41 AM HST
* Updated January 14, 9:46 AM
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The University of Hawaiʻi received the Hawaiʻi State Department of Land of Natural Resources’ independent review of the implementation of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan. The university acknowledged that the issues surrounding Maunakea are contentious and challenging and that the review will help support and inform its ongoing efforts.

Kuʻiwalu Consulting completed the review and released the document on Dec. 31, 2020.

University administrators say this independent review provides constructive feedback to inform this ongoing effort.

University work has spanned 20 years, starting with the development and adoption of the Maunakea Master Plan, establishment of the Maunakea Ranger program and then the development and adoption of the Comprehensive Management Plan.

The University reports that most of the CMP’s 103 Management Actions have been completed and the remaining actions are in the process of being finalized. 

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One of the review’s criticisms was the university’s lack of timeliness in adopting administrative rules. The rules were approved by the UH Board of Regents in Nov. 2019, and signed by Governor Ige in Jan. 2020.

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“Although there were some delays outside of UH control, UH acknowledges that the rulemaking process could have been completed sooner.  Nonetheless, the management actions enabled by the administrative rules are now being implemented,” the university reports.

Activities underway include establishing processes to manage access in order to limit excessive traffic, updating commercial tour operator guidelines and setting up a citation system for use by the Maunakea Rangers.  

The university also acknowledges the criticisms in the review regarding insufficient consultation and engagement with the Native Hawaiian community, particularly when it comes to decisions related to the management of the mountain.

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“This criticism is not new, has been taken to heart, and is a fundamental driver behind UH’s restructuring of its internal management, notably consolidating management responsibility from the UH Mānoa Institute for Astronomy to UH Hilo,” according to the university.

UH reports that it has already incorporated strategies to address this concern in its work to develop a new Maunakea Master Plan and update the CMP.  This process is also considering a new overall governance approach aimed at strengthening and broadening direct engagement with Native Hawaiian and other community stakeholders.

Other efforts already underway to elevate culture and education as key priorities alongside astronomy and land stewardship include charging the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center to develop educational materials for those who work on and visit Maunakea, as well as to improve the educational and cultural programming at the Maunakea Visitor Information Station and Hale Pōhaku. 

“The university appreciates the acknowledgment that the issues surrounding Maunakea are contentious and that the publicʻs assessment of UH primarily depends on whether they support or oppose telescope development on Maunakea,” UH said in a press release.

UH reports: “This is a very complex, divisive and challenging issue. UH remains committed to being excellent stewards of the mauna and believe we have a strong foundation to build on. UH stands firmly behind the Aug. 24, 2017 Board of Regents resolution and our ‘commitment to the collaborative stewardship of Maunakea’s cultural, natural, educational and scientific resources, and … to move forward to collaboratively build a global model of harmonious and inspirational stewardship that is befitting of Maunakea.'”

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