(BIVN) – A University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents-created permitted interaction group is recommending 12 specific action items related to the governance of Maunakea, which will be discussed at a meeting Wednesday on Oʻahu.
The group is calling for a specific schedule for decommissioning two existing observatories, increased development of the mid-level Halepohaku area, and examining whether the management of the summit should be transferred to a government authority.
The permitted interaction group’s findings come as the standoff over the Thirty Meter Telescope continues at the base of Maunakea. Opponents of the TMT have prevented construction crews from reaching the summit-are of the mountain for three months.
The University of Hawaiʻi currently manages the summit of Maunakea under a state Department of Land and Natural Resources lease. Under pressure to respond to the situation concerning the TMT, the UH Board of Regents on August 2 formed a Maunakea permitted interaction group, or MIG, “to investigate issues and make recommendations related to Maunakea governance.”
The MIG included six regents, UH President David Lassner, Greg Chun, and university legal counsel. Participating regents included Board Chair Ben Kudo, who previously called for a resolution to the ongoing conflict on the mountain, as well as Hawaiʻi Island regent Alapaki Nahale-a, who has come out in support of the kiaʻi who are standing in opposition to the TMT.
The MIG met on seven dates between August 2 and October 10. Here are the 12 recommendations they came up with:
1. Two (2) observatory sites known as the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and Hokukea site shall be decommissioned no later than April 30, 2021. For purposes of this resolution, the term “decommissioning” shall mean the complete removal of all man-made structures at each respective site bringing each site to as close as feasible to its natural state prior to construction. These will be the first two of five observatories to be decommissioned.
2. A schedule of decommissioning of these two sites will be laid out on a Gantt chart or other similar visual schedule for each of the above sites indicating function and timeframe for each major step in the decommissioning process to achieve completion on or by April 30, 2021. The schedule for decommissioning shall be presented to the Board of Regents on or before its February 2020 meeting.
3. A new educational telescope facility for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo shall be established on already developed land at Hale Pohaku 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.
4. A third (3rd) observatory site known as the United Kingdom Infrafred Telescope (UKIRT) shall be decommissioned no later than December 2024. A Gantt chart or other similar visual schedule shall be provided to the Board of Regents by December 31, 2022. This will be the third of five observatories to be decommissioned.
5. Since the fourth (4th) observatory site known as the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observatory is already scheduled to be decommissioned by December 31, 2033, the last of the five sites to be decommissioned will be identified and designated to the Board of Regents on or by December 31, 2022.
6. 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 August 31, 2020. 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.
7. Administration shall make a CIP request during the 2020 legislative session for monies to plan, design, and construct an educational center at Hale Pohaku and/or another appropriate site on Maunakea that will educate visitors on cultural, environmental, and astronomy related topics relating to Maunakea.
8. The Maunakea Master Plan update will accommodate uses by Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners
9. 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 reorganization and restructuring plan shall be embodied into a governance document that is approved by the Board of Regents.
10. As part of the reorganization and restructuring plan, an in-depth analysis will be done to determine whether the management of the Maunakea Science Reserve would be better served if transferred to a governmental authority or other third party entity, or through alternate management mechanisms (e.g., conservation easement agreement, etc.). The results of this analysis will be presented to the Board of Regents by April 2020.
11. The University will cooperate with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to resolve any outstanding issues relating to the roadway infrastructure on Maunakea and will seek opportunities to assist DHHL in its efforts to fulfill its trust duties and responsibilities on the use of its Maunakea lands.
12. As permitted by law, the University should pursue a partnership with an appropriate agency or organization whose primary beneficiary is the Native Hawaiian community, to operate commercial shuttles and tours on Maunakea.
The Regents will consider adopting the recommendations in an upcoming resolution that includes the following language:
WHEREAS, the Board of Regents believes and acknowledges that Maunakea holds a special and important place in the history, culture, and hearts of the peoples of Native Hawaiian ancestry and all of Hawaii; and
WHEREAS, Maunakea has become a symbol of Native Hawaiian self-determination; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Regents recognizes that the University of Hawai‘i (“University”) has been criticized for past and present management of Maunakea; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Regents realizes that any mismanagement of Maunakea is hurtful and disrespectful to the sanctity and inviolability of this place to Native Hawaiians and others; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Regents in response to past criticisms, has clarified its roles, duties, and responsibilities beginning with the adoption of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan (2000), Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan UH Management Areas (2009), A Cultural Resources Management Plan for the University of Hawai‘i Management Areas on Mauna Kea (2009), Natural Resources Management Plan for the UH Management Areas on Mauna Kea (2009), Public Access Plan for the UH Management areas on Mauna Kea (2010), and Decommissioning Plan for the Mauna Kea Observatories (2010) (collectively hereinafter referred to as “Management Plans”); and
WHEREAS, under said Management Plans, the Board of Regents was principally responsible to fulfill and to carry out all of the recommendations, obligations, and duties promulgated under said Management Plans; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Regents takes its responsibility seriously and hereby affirms its commitment to follow through with the recommendations made in the Management Plans to better manage the impacts of the astronomy facilities and operations upon the natural environment, cultural resources, recreational resources, educational resources, and upon the broader community; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Regents has determined that there remain unmet responsibilities and ongoing compliance issues that have delayed completion of certain recommendations and requirements under the Management Plans; and
WHEREAS, THE Board of Regents therefore desires to remove any delays in compliance and to complete ongoing responsibilities in an accelerated and expeditious manner.
While the findings and recommendations will be presented to the Board on October 17, documents say, there will be no deliberation or action by the Board at that meeting. Deliberation and discussion – and possible decision making – could occur at the special meeting of the Board in Hilo scheduled for November 6, 2019. The board will also consider adopting administrative rules for Maunakea at the same meeting.