East Hawaii News

DLNR: Mauna Kea Land for ‘Recreation, Research, Recovery’

November 10, 2015, 2:27 PM HST
* Updated November 10, 2:34 PM
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The Department of Land and Natural Resources Tuesday acknowledged that Thirty Meter Telescope workers will begin maintenance and repair activities on Mauna Kea.

TMT officials made the announcement Tuesday morning that work would continue at an unspecified time this month. Officials note that the decision follows a TMT-funded public opinion poll which “shows public support for the continuation of the project.”

Resumption of TMT activity on Mauna Kea will coincide with hunting and other activities also happening on the mountain, according to DLNR, who says that state land on Mauna Kea is for recreation, research and recovery.

“Mauna Kea is very much a multiple-use area for a wide array of cultural, recreational, and research activities,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson. “Our goal is to ensure that people on the mountain conduct themselves responsibly and with respect for other users. As local workers prepare to begin work at the TMT site, we want to remind people of other simultaneous activities that may be occurring on the mountain.

“We want everyone conducting customary and traditional practices, enjoying recreational activities, or exercising their free speech rights on Mauna Kea to understand that they are sharing the mountain with many others and we want an atmosphere where kama’aina and visitors can all enjoy their activities, safely.”

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According to DLNR, officials with the Division of Forestry and Wildlife will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids from Nov. 16 through Nov. 17 and Dec. 14 to Dec. 15. The efforts of DOFAW could coincide with other activities on the mountain, officials say.

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During the scheduled DLNR work dates, officials say DOFAW crews will conduct staff hunting and potential aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, sheep, mouflon, and mouflon/shep hybrids.

DLNR says the animal control activities will occur within critical palila habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), and the Ka’ohe Game Management Area (Unit G), and aerial shooting is required by a federal court order to improve and maintain critical habitat for the palila, a bird endemic to Hawai’i.

In addition, the 2015-2016 game bird hunting season opened on Nov. 7 and will continue through Jan. 31. Hunting areas include both private and public lands, according to DLNR officials, including multiple game management units, forest reserves, and other public lands on Mauna Kea.

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