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State proposes limiting access to Mauna Kea summit in wake of protests

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    Protesters stand their ground in the roadway on Wednesday

The state is proposing an emergency rule to limit access to the Mauna Kea summit area in an effort described as promoting safe access.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider the new rule at its regularly scheduled meeting Friday at 9 a.m. in conference room 132 of the Kalanimoku Building at 1151 Punchbowl St.

The proposal calls for the scheduling of nighttime hours during which individuals may not remain within a designated restricted area and also prohibits the presence of camping-related supplies within the restricted areas at all hours, according to a news release issued by the state Attorney General’s office and the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The summit area has endured extra stress in recent weeks as the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope continue.

Attorney General Doug Chin said that in recent weeks dozens of people have camped on the grounds or remained parked in cars for prolonged periods, either on or near the access road to Mauna Kea.

“Boulders and rock walls have been placed on the road. Invasive species have been introduced. Unauthorized toilets have been placed on the grounds. Individuals remaining in the area have reportedly caused visitors and workers to feel harassed. Consumption of water, which must be trucked up the mountain, is at record high usage. All of this has occurred in a partially graveled, steeply graded area without markings or guardrails,” Chin said in the news release.

DLNR chairwoman Suzanne Case said her department has been delegated the power and duty to manage and regulate all lands that may be set apart as game management areas, public hunting areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

“The department is authorized to promulgate rules to carry out these duties. These rules concern the preservation, protection, regulation, extension, and utilization of, and conditions for entry into wildlife sanctuaries, game management areas, and public hunting areas,” she said.

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