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Land Board OKs restrictions on Mauna Kea

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Protesters assembled on the slope of Mauna Kea on Hawaii island to block construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
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"There is nothing natural, cultural or historic in what's happening today," Kimo Kaleohano said against restrictions on Friday.

The Board of Land and Natural Resources voted 5-2 Friday night to impose an emergency rule designed to restore order near the summit of Mauna Kea.

The 120-day emergency rule would restrict access to anyone not traveling in a vehicle on Mauna Kea Access Road from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and prohibit camping gear, including blankets and tarpaulins, within 1 mile of the road at any time.

The rule ostensibly would allow construction to resume on the Thirty Meter Telescope, the subject of months of protests.

More than 100 speakers testified over nearly eight hours Friday, filling up the tiny BLNR boardroom and spilling out into the halls of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources building on Punchbowl Street in Hono­lulu.

The board went into executive session behind closed doors shortly before 9 p.m. and came out for deliberations just after 10 p.m.

“We need the tools to keep order on the mountain,” said board member Chris Yuen, who made the motion to approve the rule. “It’s sad that it has come to this point.”

In voting for the rule, the board declared there was “imminent peril to the public health or natural resources.” James A. Gomes and Ulalia Woodside voted in the minority.

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