UH outlines stewardship plan for Mauna Kea

University of Hawaii officials apologized Monday for not meeting the community’s expectations on Mauna Kea.

In a press conference, UH President David Lassner and UH-Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney responded to the governor’s comments the previous week. That’s when the governor asked for a better stewardship plan.

UH said it is committed to making the Thirty Meter Telescope the last new observatory site developed on Mauna Kea. A plan to remove 25 percent — or three of the observatories — and the restoration of the sites, will be in place by the end of the year. Land that is not used for astronomy will be returned to DLNR.

And starting this month, UH will have open house sessions to hear from the public to address “improved management of non-cultural access to Mauna Kea.”

“You know there isn’t consensus in the community on this,” said Lassner. “There’s clearly people who are opposed, supportive, and there’s people in the middle trying to figure out what to think.”

The university will prepare draft rules on access by October. Officials will work with Native Hawaiian advisors to develop new cultural training and educational programs and UH will also launch a campaign for new scholarship programs to increase participation in sciences.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I think it falls short of actually providing a meaningful response,” said Ty Tengan, chair of UH-Manoa Ethnic Studies Dept.

“The university has to make overtures to the community who’s there on the mountain and protecting the mountain itself,” said ethnic studies professor Davianna McGregor. “I don’t see that they have been involved or consulted.”

UH officials also say, they will restart the EIS (environmental impact statement) process for a new master lease that will enable UH to include more options for consideration. The term of the new lease will be shorter than a 65-year extension.

In response, Gov. David Ige said: “I look forward to working together to make this plan a reality. Now comes the hard work as we move forward toward a new future for Mauna Kea.”

Later this week, UH officials will meet with the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources to review the process for decommissioning the observatories and they will also draft a legal document to make the Thirty Meter Telescope the last new observatory site on Mauna Kea.

The university said it will provide “a more detailed schedule by July 2015 following additional consultations.”

Click here to read the university’s complete statement.

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