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Mauna Kea Management Review Finds Positives, Negatives

January 5, 2021, 5:45 AM HST
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PC: University of Hawai‘i.

DLNR has completed its independent review of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan implementation by the University of Hawai‘i (UH).

Over the past seven months, the review was conducted independently for DLNR by Kuiʻwalu Consulting, to provide DLNR and the Board of Land and Natural Resources relevant information as to whether Mauna Kea is being effectively managed.

Noting the contentious context of Mauna Kea in recent years, Kuʻiwalu sought extensive public and stakeholder input through multiple venues on various aspects of the comprehensive management plan’s implementation.

The independent evaluation found that the UH Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM) has made progress in implementing most of the Comprehensive Management Plan’s management actions, and it appears that OMKM has been effective at managing natural and cultural resources on Mauna Kea.

The report noted, “We heard many comments that the cultural and natural resources on the state conservation lands on Mauna Kea are some of the best managed and protected lands in the entire State. The area is clear of trash, the invasive species are being removed not only by OMKM but volunteer groups, and the OMKM Rangers to ensure public safety on Mauna Kea.”

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At the same time, the independent evaluation also found that OMKM has not effectively implemented the Comprehensive Management Plan in three major process areas:

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1) Untimely adoption of administrative rules to manage public access and regulate commercial activities.

2) Inadequate consultation with members of the Native Hawaiian community, both those who oppose and support UH’s management of Mauna Kea, on matters related to cultural and resources issues.

3) Ineffective engagement with the community, in particular, members of the Native Hawaiian community, on education and outreach efforts, including decision-making processes related to the management of Mauna Kea.

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“We deeply appreciate the thorough and transparent work of Dawn Chang and the Kuʻiwalu Project team on this challenging topic, and we especially appreciate all of the more than 500 people who opted to participate in the process to make sure we heard multiple voices and points of view,” said DLNR Chair Suzanne Case.

“The results show overall solid management by UH on the protection of the mountain’s natural and cultural resources,” Case commented, “but lacking in the equally important work of relationship building and meaningful inclusion of many people who care deeply about the mauna. This work will certainly help DLNR and the Board of Land and Natural Resources better understand and oversee management of Mauna Kea.”

Chair Case noted that the independent evaluation is not a report on the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). UH leases approximately 11,000 acres of state lands on Mauna Kea, of which 525 acres is in the Astronomy Precinct and 10,700 acres are designated as Natural/Cultural Preservation Area. The Comprehensive Management Plan covers all of the UH leased land and was approved by the Board of Land and Natural Resources in 2009.

The Independent Evaluation of the Implementation of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan can be found on DLNR’s website. It can also be found on the Project website at Mauna Kea – Comprehensive Management Plan (evaluatethecmp.com). A number of background documents are also contained on both websites, and will be maintained on the Project website through Jan. 31, 2021. After that date the documents will be moved to DLNR’s website for public reference.

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