(BIVN) – A new draft report authored by the Mauna Kea Working Group, convened by the Hawaiʻi House of Representatives, is recommending a new, governing entity be created to manage the mountain.
The recommendations, if adopted into future state legislation, mean the University of Hawaiʻi would be removed from managing state lands on Maunakea.
“Many of the criticisms about UH are not necessarily tied to our management but they’re tied to this larger issue of whether people want to see a future for astronomy on Maunakea, whether they want to see observatories up there,” said UH Center for Maunakea Stewardship executive director Greg Chun in a UH news article. “That is not a management question. That is a policy question that the state of Hawaiʻi has to decide on.”
A footnote on page 25 addresses the discussion around the future of astronomy on Maunakea, saying: “The full Working Group had a robust conversation as to whether the Governing Entity should be prohibited from allowing either an increase to the current number of astronomy facilities or an increase to the current astronomy development footprint. Ultimately, the Working Group was not able to reach an agreement, with some members preferring not to set a specific astronomy footprint or astronomy facility number limit in legislation and others wanting a smaller footprint or less telescopes than what currently exists. Some members wanted a lower number of telescopes, such as the Governor’s and the University of Hawaii’s proposed nine telescopes. Nine telescopes, while a lower number than the thirteen telescopes that currently exist on the mauna, still represents an increase in the current astronomy footprint, which was unacceptable to some members.”
Chapter three outlines the recommendations of the Working Group for the new governance and management structure for the mountain. “It is the intent of the Working Group that legislation will be introduced by the Legislature that establishes a Governing Entity with the following values and guiding principles, jurisdiction, organizational structure, powers and duties, access and use priorities, and funds and financial support,” the draft report stated.
The authors of the report say they chose “to utilize the nomenclature, Mauna a Wākea interchangeably with Mauna Kea to honor the significance of this mauna to the environment, island, and people.” It also refers often to Kumu Kānāwai, or the “Native Hawaiian concept of environmental kinship”. From the report:
To establish the organizational structure of the Governing Entity, the Working Group first identified and discussed key stakeholders, state constitutionally-recognized right holders, right holders with property interests, and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners. Once these individuals and entities were recognized, the Working Group determined an organizational structure for the Governing Entity that best represented these individuals and entities. However, the Working Group could not reach consensus on whether to include an astronomy representative on the board. While some members of the Working Group recognized the contributions such a member could bring to the board, other members shared concerns about potential conflicts of interest and preferred that representatives from the astronomy community serve the Governing Entity in an advisory capacity. Consideration was also given to include representation on the board from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, County of Hawaii, and private landowners whose lands are within the jurisdiction area. However, it was determined that the Governing Entity should instead seek out cooperative agreements with those entities for cooperative and coordinated management of Mauna a Wākea. Still, while not all of the organizational details could be outlined by the Working Group, many of the major structural concepts were discussed and agreed upon. Therefore, the Working Group recommends the following organizational structure for the Governing Entity:
The Governing Entity shall be attached to the Office of the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources for administrative purposes. Decision-making for the Governing Entity shall be made by a nine-member board, of which seven seats shall be appointed and two seats shall be held by ex-officio members, with the board selecting a Chair from among its non-ex-officio members; provided that the Chair shall not be the Executive Director of the Governing Entity. Additionally, of the nine members, four of the seven non-ex-officio board members shall be Native Hawaiian Hawaii Island residents, with a preference for Native Hawaiian Hawaii Island residents for all seven non-ex-officio board seats.
In nominating its three respective board seats, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs shall develop a list of candidates for consideration by the Governor. In developing a list of nominees, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs shall seek input from the Native Hawaiian community and work in coordination with the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and I Ola Hāloa Hawaiian Studies Program at Hawai‘i Community College, using the existing selection process used for Island Burial Council candidates as a model. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, in coordination with the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and I Ola Hāloa Hawaiian Studies Program at Hawai‘i Community College, shall submit six names for the three Native Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner seats to the Governor for consideration.
In nominating its four respective board seats, the nominating committee shall develop a list of candidates for consideration by the Governor. Each list for a vacant board seat shall contain three names, and all nominees whose names are submitted to the Governor for selection shall be made public at the time of submission.
The nominating committee shall be comprised of individuals named and appointed by each of the following: the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senate President, and Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, with consideration given to Hawaii Island residents.
The Governing Entity shall review and may revise the nominating process every three years.
The nine-member board shall include the following:
(1) The Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, or the Chairperson’s designee (ex-officio member);
(2) The Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, or the Chief Executive Officer’s designee (ex-officio member);
(3) A current resident of Hawai‘i Island with ‘āina resource management expertise and a track record of Hawai‘i Island-based management, nominated by the nominating committee;
(4) A current resident of Hawai‘i Island with infrastructure and land management experience and a track record of Hawai‘i Island-based management, nominated by the nominating committee;
(5) An individual with educational expertise in P-12 public education; community, culture, and Hawaiian language medium-based education; or post-secondary education, nominated by the nominating committee;
(6) An individual with business and finance experience, nominated by the nominating committee; and
(7) Three Native Hawaiian Cultural Practitioners nominated by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, in coordination with the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation and I Ola Hāloa Hawaiian Studies Program at Hawai‘i Community College.
All members of the board, except for the Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources and Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, shall be appointed by the Governor pursuant to section 26-34, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
The board shall appoint an Executive Director who shall serve as Chief Executive Officer. Additionally, the Governing Entity shall determine its administration organizational structure and expertise needs, including but not limited to employing rangers to serve as education, general safety, and outreach resources; and shall establish its offices on Hawai‘i Island.
POWERS AND DUTIES
The Working Group recognized that the scope of managing an area of such important cultural significance and geographic size presents many challenges. Additionally, because Mauna a Wākea is the kuahiwi, or backbone, of Hawai‘i Island in a structural, physical, and spiritual sense, the Governing Entity should work toward decreasing the human footprint of all users and visitors of Mauna a Wākea. Therefore, the Working Group recommends the following powers and duties for the Governing Entity to ensure that it can uphold the responsibilities of managing Mauna a Wākea:
The Governing Entity shall be the sole authority for the management of designated state-owned lands on Mauna a Wākea (See JURISDICTION). The public land trust lands held by the Governing Entity shall be held in trust as part of the public land trust; provided that the State shall transfer management and control of the lands to a sovereign Native Hawaiian entity upon its recognition by the United States and the State of Hawai‘i. Furthermore, the Governing Entity shall protect Native Hawaiian rights.
The Governing Entity shall have land disposition authority for its lands with similar land disposition processes and lease terms that are consistent with chapter 171, Hawaii Revised Statutes. The Governing Entity shall also provide a specific process that ensures transparency, analysis, and justification for lease terms and shall be prohibited from selling, gifting, transferring, or exchanging its land.
To assure that the Governing Entity has adequate time to establish itself, the Governing Entity shall have a transition period of three years to assume management of Mauna a Wākea lands.
Furthermore, the Governing Entity shall develop a single plan that dictates the management of land uses; human activities, uses, and access; stewardship; and disposition. The plan shall be developed during the transition period; finalized and approved, and operational by the end of the transition period; and updated every ten years with a focus on long-term, comprehensive, coordinated planning for all of the managed lands. Additionally, the plan shall consider the State’s energy and sustainability goals, as well as impacts to climate change, including adapting to climate change and developing mitigation measures to climate change, and shall incorporate indigenous management and cultural processes and values.
The Governing Entity shall develop a framework to limit astronomy development on the mauna, through development limitations that may include limitations on the number of astronomy facilities or an astronomy facility footprint limitation; provided that in establishing a framework to control astronomy development on the mauna, the Governing Entity shall establish a plan to return the mauna above 9,200 feet elevation to its natural state.
To ensure community input and engagement, the Governing Entity shall engage in community dialogue, outreach, engagement, and consultation processes, as appropriate, on significant matters not less than on an annual basis and more frequently, as needed.
To maximize transparency, the Governing Entity shall be subject to administrative procedure pursuant to chapter 91, Hawaii Revised Statutes; Sunshine Law, pursuant to chapter 92, Hawaii Revised Statutes; the State Procurement Code, pursuant to chapter 103D, Hawaii Revised Statutes; and chapters 183, 205, 205A, and 343, Hawaii Revised Statutes.
To ensure accountability, the Governing Entity shall submit an annual report to the Legislature at least twenty days prior to the convening of each Regular Session. The report shall include a review of the entity’s management actions; review of the implementation of all legislatively required plans, including financial and management plans; review of the impacts of human uses on the natural and cultural resources of Mauna a Wākea; assessment of cumulative impacts to Mauna a Wākea; and review of all community dialogue, outreach, engagement, and consultation.
To address enforcement issues and responsibilities, the Governing Entity shall work with the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement and Hawai‘i County Police enforcement structure to enforce rules and monitor public safety through cooperative agreement. Additionally, the Governing Entity shall create operational procedures that are guided by the Kumu Kānāwai and implemented by enforcement partners.
ACCESS AND USE PRIORITIES
Due to Mauna a Wākea’s significance, the Working Group took a comprehensive approach in determining the existing uses of Mauna a Wākea, including Native Hawaiian practices, astronomical and other scientific research, tourism, resource gathering, conservation, and recreation. The Working Group determined that prioritizing these uses and better managing access to Mauna a Wākea would assist the Governing Entity in meeting its responsibilities and management priorities. Therefore, the Working Group recommends the following access and use priorities for the Governing Entity:
The Governing Entity shall establish a management framework guided by the Kumu Kānāwai to manage access, stewardship, education, research, permitted uses for frequent and seasonal users, and overall operations. The Governing Entity shall also prohibit commercial use and activities (not including astronomy) above Hale Pohaku and develop rules to designate areas for permissible use, including defining “commercial use”.
The Governing Entity shall consider restrictions via applications and registration processes to ensure user compliance. Additionally, the Governing Entity shall require an application for all recreational uses, including fees, and create guidelines on limits by monitoring the impacts of recreational use over time.
The Governing Entity shall ensure that, as a condition of any lease, an observatory shall plan for and finance its decommissioning process on Mauna a Wākea and return and restore the impacted areas, to the greatest extent possible, to their preconstruction condition. Additionally, the Governing Entity shall determine what site restoration shall be based on, including but not limited to the protection of the natural and cultural resources of Mauna a Wākea and in accordance with the Kumu Kānāwai, and develop a process to enforce lease requirements compliance, such as establishing fines. Additionally, the Governing Entity shall establish a trust fund, special fund, or other funding mechanism designated for decommissioning costs that the observatories shall be required to contribute toward as a condition of their leases.
To further reinforce the management principles for Mauna a Wākea, the Governing Entity shall require all people accessing Maunakea to undergo an annual orientation anchored by the Kumu Kānāwai and require all employees, contractors, leaseholders, and others who regularly access Mauna a Wākea to have more extensive and frequent training on the Kumu Kānāwai.
As a way to capture information about users, establish an education outreach post, collect fees, and close access to Mauna a Wākea in case of an emergency, the Governing Entity shall determine an appropriate site for an entryway to Mauna a Wākea.
FUNDS AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT
The Working Group recognized that financing the operations of the Governing Entity would be critical in ensuring the perpetuity of Mauna a Wākea. Several funding mechanisms were presented by the members of the Working Group with the intent of ensuring that the Governing Entity had authority to secure funding from a variety of sources. Therefore, the Working Group recommends the following financing for the Governing Entity:
To support the Governing Entity, a special fund shall be created as an on-going revenue base of funding. The Governing Entity shall consider various supplemental revenue sources to be deposited into the special fund, including but not limited to renegotiated lease terms and fees; observatory use fees; common area maintenance; toll fees; general funds; ecosystem service fees; user fees; other surcharges or fee structures; and state, county and federal funding.
To help establish the Governing Entity, general funds should be allocated by the Legislature for at least the first five years. Special funds shall also be used to provide financial support for the Governing Entity.
The Mauna Kea Working Group report was prepared as a result of the adoption of House Resolution No. 33 passed in the 2021 session. The findings and recommendations in the report were said to be made “by consensus by the members of the Working Group, unless noted otherwise.”
The report says the members of the Working Group are:
- Representative Mark Nakashima, Chair, House of Representatives
- Representative Ty J.K. Cullen, House of Representatives
- Representative Stacelynn K.M. Eli, House of Representatives
- Representative David A. Tarnas, House of Representatives
- Ms. Jocelyn Leialoha M. Doane, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Dr. Lui Hokoana, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Dr. Bonnie Irwin, Chancellor, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo
- Dr. Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Mr. Joshua Lanakila Mangauil, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Mr. Robert K. Masuda, First Deputy, Board of Land and Natural Resources
- Mr. Rich Matsuda, Interim Chief of Operations, W.M. Keck Observatory
- Ms. Brialyn Onodera, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Mr. Shane Palacat-Nelsen, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Mr. Sterling Wong, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
- Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, Native Hawaiian Community Representative
- Mr. Wayne Tanaka, Office of Hawaiian Affairs
- Dr. Sylvia Hussey, Office of Hawaiian Affairs