UH Board of Regents Lay Out Plan for Maunakea

October 17, 2019, 9:20 AM HST (Updated October 17, 2019, 11:43 AM)
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The University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents will consider a new course of action regarding Maunakea management in an upcoming meeting on Nov. 6 at UH Hilo.

The proposed resolution lays out a plan to decommission five telescopes as well as develop a new educational telescope facility on developed land. The hope is to have the first two telescopes removed no later than April 30, 2021. Click here to read the resolution in its entirety.

The resolution was drafted by the BOR Maunakea Governance Permitted Interaction Group formed by the BOR at its Aug. 2 special meeting. The group, consisting of six regents, engaged with university administration, government officials and outside advisors as it looked into issues related to the university’s stewardship and governance activities on Maunakea.

According to the proposed resolution, the first two observatory sites known as the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and Hokukea site shall be decommissioned. A third observatory site known as the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) shall be decommissioned no later than December 2024.

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The fourth observatory site known as the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observatory is already scheduled to be decommissioned by Dec. 31, 2033. The last of the five sites to be decommissioned will be identified and designated to the Board of Regents on or by Dec. 31, 2022.

A reorganization and restructuring plan shall be presented to the Board of Regents as to all advisory, operating and funding bodies involved in the management of Maunakea by April 2020.

“The purpose of the plan is to improve operations and management and make it more efficient, effective and transparent,” the proposed resolution states. “The reorganization and restructuring plan shall be embodied into a governance document that is approved by the Board of Regents.”

The proposed resolution also lays out a plan for a new educational telescope facility for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, which shall be established on already developed land at Hale Pōhaku or elsewhere, as soon as can be permitted, with a target date no later than April 30, 2021, to ensure the prompt availability of a teaching telescope. The Board of Regents shall support the funding of the planning, design, and construction of the new educational facility.

In collaboration with OMKM and MKSS, the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center shall develop a suite of educational programs regarding Maunakea including but not limited to Native Hawaiian culture, history, environmental, and biological considerations designed for tour guides and drivers, employees, contractors, recreational users, scientists and observatory workers, and visitors, as required by the Management Plans, by Aug. 31, 2020, the proposal indicates.

OMKM shall report to the Board of Regents on its plans and progress to implement said educational programs at its February 2020 meeting. Administration shall make a budget request during the 2020 legislative session to fund this action item.

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