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