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Alter Bulldozed on Mauna Kea, UH ‘Regrets’ Action

September 21, 2015, 9:24 AM HST
* Updated September 21, 9:48 AM
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An altar, or ‘ahu, near the Mauna Kea summit road was bulldozed last month by a Mauna Kea Support Services employee, upsetting Mauna Kea ‘Protectors.’

According to Dan Meisenzahl, media spokesman for the University of Hawai’i, the removal of the structure occurred after heavy rains hit the mountain. He wasn’t exactly certain when the bulldozing occurred but believed it was around August 24.

The self-proclaimed mountain ‘protectors’ noticed the alter had been removed on Sept. 13.

According to Meisenzahl, the employee was grading the road, which happens twice a week, and bulldozed the area to get access to a pile of rocks and gravel needed to support the eroding roadway.

The employee was not authorized to remove the alter, he said, and that he “wishes things would have been done differently.”

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“I guess you could use the word regret,” he said.”It was an unfortunate event.”

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Meisenzahl also said that the employee technically didn’t violate any rules since the alter didn’t have permits to be in the conservation district.

When asked what happened to the employee, Meisenzahl denied to comment.

Since that date, a tent used by the ‘protectors’ was taken down by the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers, along with four Hawai’i Police Department officers and an Office of Mauna Kea Management ranger overnight.

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According to reports, the protesters voluntarily complied with the action.

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