DLNR, Mauna Kea ‘Protectors’ Reach Agreement to Remove Tent

September 17, 2015, 4:49 PM HST (Updated September 17, 2015, 4:50 PM)
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Opponents of the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea will comply with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ request to remove their large tent, which is located across from the Mauna Kea Visitors Center.

In a notice delivered to the protestors and obtained by Big Island Now, which was dated Sept. 15, it states that “it is unlawful to place, erect, or possess structures, tents, tarpaulins, or camping paraphernalia within the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve and the Mauna Kea Management Game Area, Unit A.” The notice was signed by DLNR Chairperson Suzanne Case.

The notice said that any unauthorized structures located in the restricted area after 6 p.m. Thursday “shall be considered abandoned and shall be disposed of by the State of Hawai’I at the former owner’s cost and expense, pursuant to Section 171-31.5, Hawai’I Revised Statutes.”

The tent will come down, according to the Mauna Kea ‘protectors,’ in a statement released to Big Island Now Thursday afternoon.

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“Our standing presence on the mauna has fulfilled its function for now and we have secured agreements and understandings with DLNR that removes the imminent surprise threat of TMT construction on Mauna a Wakea,” the statement said. “We are hopeful that the TMT construction will not proceed before a verdict is given by the Supreme Court.”

“Holding the DLNR to their agreement, we are now able to conserve our resources and lighten our presence here,” the statement continued. “In spite of the selective enforcement that is being pressed upon us, we are voluntarily complying with the removal of the tent. We are taking this opportunity to engage our community. We are still maintaining an eye on the mountain and will continue to kupa’a ma hope or ka ‘aina.”

In July, the Board of Land and Natural Resources signed emergency rules that affect Mauna Kea and last for 120 days. In the rules, it restricts access between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. each day and prohibits camping and specific camping equipment in a restricted area without prior approval from the BLNR.

Since the rules went into effect on July 14, two different sweeps by DLNR DOCARE officers have resulted in multiple arrests. On Sept. 9, eight protesters were arrested at a protest camp across from the Mauna Kea Visitors Center. Seven others were arrested and six more were cited on July 31 at the same site.

According to a DLNR spokesperson, the department Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers will “continue to monitor for the removal of illegal structures on the mountain.”

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