MAUNA KEA – Photographers who share a passion for capturing imagery on Mauna Kea are uniting in opposition to proposed rules that will restrict access to the scenic mountain.
On Friday, the Board of Land and Natural Resources will vote on whether or not to create a “restricted area” on lands within one mile of the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road, in which:
(b) No person shall at any time bring in to the restricted area or possess or control in the restricted area any of the following items: backpack, tents, blankets, tarpaulins, or other obvious camping paraphernalia.
(c) No person shall enter or remain in the restricted area during the hours of 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., except to the extent the person is transiting through the restricted area in a motor vehicle on the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road.
The state says the emergency rulemaking procedures are being enacted “To Protect Against Imminent Peril To Public Safety and Natural Resources,” as a result of the ongoing conflict over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. The new rules will effectively put an end to photographing the starlit skies while on the mountain. Many photographers also carry backbacks while on the mountain, an act that will be outlawed if the new rules are approved.
The new restrictions motivated photographer Bridger Jensen to organize the Mauna Kea Photo Guild on Facebook. Many of the Big Island’s noted nightscape photographers are a part of the group. Jensen stressed that the group is not taking a side on the controversial TMT issue. Their concern is over access.
The group describes itself:
As photographers we support open access to Mauna Kea, access that has been legally protected for the people of Hawaii. We post pictures as a show of support to protect our right to perform photography on Mauna Kea.
Newly proposed rule changes by DLNR will prevent access to Mauna Kea at night between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., the very time that photographers visit the mountain to photograph the stars. These proposed land management practices also ban camping and the use of backpacks, which photographers use to carry their equipment.
Poorly written and lacking in necessary specifics, there are long-term and far reaching economic consequences to these new guidelines that have not been fully considered. While the proposed rule changes may have been aimed at one segment of society, they fail to consider the impact on a broader audience. Many Big Island photographers have spent years honing their skills and purchasing specialized equipment to photograph the night sky from atop Mauna Kea. Their work is displayed in museums and galleries all over the world and enriches the lives of millions of people who can not travel to Mauna Kea personally.
In addition, organizations from across the globe use photography from atop Mauna Kea to educate and inspire young and old alike about the wonders of our Universe. These organizations hire local photographers to take these images that are then shared in a multitude of countries and viewed by millions of people. To deny access to Mauna Kea at night deprives photographers from being able to do their job and earn an income. It also prevents society at large, both here in the U.S. and around the world, from appreciating the unique wonders of the night time sky that can only be seen from atop Mauna Kea.
We call upon all people who favor full access to join the our cause or create their own organization to advocate. This may include, but is not limited to recreationists, businesses, traditional worshipers, and astronomers. The passage of these proposed new rules will set a precedent that is unacceptable to anyone that appreciates the art of photography and the inspiration of education. If you support us as photographers, please join our facebook group and share this post. – Mauna Kea Photo Guild press release
On Wednesday at 7 p.m., participants in the 214 member Mauna Kea Photo Guild posted different photos taken on Mauna Kea, many with the same statement that read, in part:
Today I unite with other photographers to continue open access to Mauna Kea. Our access is now in jeopardy due to DLNR’s new rules for the summit. By posting this picture, I unite with all Mauna Kea photographers in protecting our rights.
The land board meets this Friday (July 10, 2015) at 9 a.m. at the Kalanimoku Building (1151 Punchbowl Street) in the Land Board Conference Room 132.