University of Hawaii regents panel pitches plan to improve Mauna Kea
Following a two-month examination of the issues related to Mauna Kea, a University of Hawaii Board of Regents committee did not recommend any change in its support for the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope.
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Following a two-month
examination of the issues
related to Mauna Kea, a University of Hawaii Board of Regents committee did not recommend any change in its support for the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope.
Instead, the Maunakea Governance Permitted Interaction Group is recommending the creation of a plan to improve the management of the mountain and is urging a specific timeline for the planned decommissioning of five telescopes in conjunction with the TMT’s construction.
The six-member panel made its recommendations in a resolution posted Tuesday on the UH website and scheduled to be considered by the full board Nov. 6 at UH Hilo.
When the committee was formed during a special board meeting at Manoa in August, dozens of speakers, many of them Native Hawaiian faculty, staff and students, asked the board to condemn the $1.4 billion project, calling it a desecration of Hawaii’s tallest mountain.
The committee was formed in the wake of the protest blocking the access road to Mauna Kea and preceded by the anti-TMT student occupation of Bachman Hall on the Manoa campus.
The resolution does
acknowledge that Mauna Kea holds an important place in the history, culture and hearts of Native Hawaiians and has become a symbol of Native Hawaiian self-determination.
It also recognizes that UH has been criticized for the management of Mauna Kea and that any mismanagement is “hurtful and disrespectful to the sanctity and inviolability of this place to Native Hawaiians and
The resolution calls for a reorganization and restructuring plan aimed at improving operations and management to be presented to the Board of
Regents by April.
As part of the plan, an analysis will determine whether the management of the 11,228-acre Mauna Kea Science Reserve would be better served if transferred to a governmental authority or other third party.
Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim has criticized the university for its management of the mountain, and so has the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which filed suit in November 2017 accusing UH of aggressively developing Mauna Kea for astronomy at the expense of its environmental and cultural significance. The complaint is still being contested in court.
The board’s resolution sets a timeline for closing five of the 13 telescopes on the mountain in connection with the TMT. The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and UH Hilo’s Hoku Kea teaching telescope would be decommissioned no later than April 30, 2021, and the UKIRT telescope will be brought down by Dec. 31, 2022.
The Very Long Baseline Array observatory is already scheduled to be decommissioned by Dec. 31, 2033, while the last of the five sites to be decommissioned would be identified and designated to the Board of
Regents by Dec. 31, 2022,
according to the resolution.
Other major actions called for by the resolution:
>> A new educational telescope for UH Hilo shall be established on already developed land at Hale Pohaku or elsewhere, as soon as can be permitted, with a target date no later than April 30, 2021.
>> The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center shall develop Mauna Kea educational programs about Native Hawaiian
culture, history, environment and biology designed for use by tour guides, employees, contractors, recreational users, scientists and observatory workers and visitors by Aug. 31.
>> The UH administration shall ask the state Legislature for funds to plan, design and construct an educational center at Hale Pohaku and elsewhere on Mauna Kea to educate visitors on cultural, environmental and astronomy-related topics.
The panel of six trustees met with university administrators, government officials and outside advisers as it looked into issues connected to the university’s stewardship and governance on Mauna Kea.