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UH, DLNR Express Concern Over Measure That Establishes Oversight Authority for Mauna Kea

May 5, 2022, 12:43 PM HST
* Updated May 5, 1:43 PM
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The Department of Land and Natural Resources as well as the University of Hawai‘i expressed concerns regarding a measure that establishes the Mauna Kea Stewardship Authority as top oversight for the mauna.

House Bill 2024 CD1 appropriates $14 million for the startup and transition planning costs for the Mauna Kea Stewardship and oversight authority and appropriates $350,000 for K-12 public education programs in astronomy-related fields of learning.

The bill has been forwarded to Gov. David Ige for his passage or veto.

Currently, under the oversight of UH, the bill creates a five-year transition period where the newly established 11-member authority takes over the day-to-day operations of Mauna Kea.

In a statement from UH President David Lassner, he thanked the lawmakers from the House and Senate who worked so hard to come to a consensus.

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“The bill addresses the highest priorities we communicated to conferees, including the ongoing environmental and cultural stewardship of Maunakea and codifying astronomy as a state policy,” Lassner stated. “There are legal, land and constitutional concerns for Governor Ige to deliberate over as he considers the bill for potential veto.”

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Lassner said UH also has technical concerns with some of the final language that they hope can be addressed before enactment and implementation.

“We do not believe these are a basis for UH to request a veto of the bill. If or when the new Authority is established, the university will engage as positively and collaboratively as possible to create a ‘global model of harmonious and inspirational stewardship that is befitting of Maunakea’ as called for by the Board of Regents,” Lassner stated.

DLNR issued a statement Thursday that indicated while they believe the measure is well-intended, it leaves significant gaps that could result in worse management of Mauna Kea’s natural and cultural resources.

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“The Department believes that while well-intentioned, this bill is based on a misguided assumption that UH has not managed Mauna Kea well,” DLNR stated. “This is an old narrative that is no longer true. Mauna Kea is tightly managed as a clean astronomy zone at the summit surrounded by 10,000 acres of well-protected natural and cultural resources. Many people who state that Mauna Kea is mismanaged believe that TMT should not be built. That is an entirely different issue.”

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