New Draft Of Administrative Rules For Mauna Kea Released

Nov 3, 2019

The latest draft of proposed administrative rules for Mauna Kea has been released by the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents, which will take up the matter at a special meeting Wednesday in Hilo.

The rules would govern activities within the astronomy-related management areas controlled by the university. They are intended to manage proper use of the lands while protecting its "cultural, natural, and scientific resources," according to the university.

The newest proposal incorporates topics already covered by state law and the university's Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan, including obstruction of access to UH-managed areas on the mountain.

The draft rules also recognize that Native Hawaiians' traditional and customary rights under the state Constitution "shall not be abridged." But the UH noted in its summary of rule changes that reasonable restrictions based on factors like safety and resource management may be imposed. 

The latest draft rules modify earlier versions, including a set that underwent public hearings in June.

Consideration of the rules comes as a protest on Mauna Kea approaches its fourth month. Many Native Hawaiians opposed to the construction of the planned Thirty Meter Telescope believe the mountain is sacred and have been blocking an access road leading to the telescope's construction site.

Other areas covered by the draft rules before the regents would:

• Regulate visitor activities and allow for access to the management area to be restricted under certain conditions.
• Require registration with the UH president when activities involve groups of more than 10 people.
• Allow for citations and fees to be issued for violations of the rules and provide for an appeals process.

Adoption of the rules would take effect 10 days after filing with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

The board also plans to take up a resolution that calls for a reorganization of the agencies involved in managing Mauna Kea, this in the wake of criticism of the university's handling of astronomy development on the mountain.

The Board of Regents meets at 9:45 a.m., Nov. 6, at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Performance Arts Center, 200 W. Kawili Street. Those who wish to testify can submit their comments to bor.testimony@hawaii.edu or at the meeting in person.

A UH spokesman said the meeting is expected to run about 12 hours. If the board's business is not completed on Wednesday, the regents may continue the meeting to another day.