skyline view of Maunakea observatories

Observatory decommissioning underway

Three observatories have been publicly identified to be decommissioned before the deadlines in the openly approved decommissioning subplan. Two of these decommissioning initiatives are already underway, and all will follow the stringent guidelines of the Comprehensive Management Plan that requires review of telescope deconstruction, removal, site restoration, environmental due diligence, and cultural considerations. The university has firmly and formally committed that no new sites beyond that identified for TMT will be developed for astronomy on Maunakea.

Observatory on Maunakea

Substantial sublease rents planned

Current observatories entered into subleases in the last century that did not provide substantial rent payments, although these observatories make substantial payments for common services including road maintenance and the Visitor Information Station. UH initiated a new approach with TMT, which agreed to pay more than a million dollars per year in rent when fully operational to support stewardship of Maunakea as well as support its share of common services. TMT also provides a separate community benefits package of an additional million dollars per year focused on STEM education on Hawaiʻi Island and support for a workforce pipeline specifically to help Hawaiʻi Island residents prepare for jobs in astronomy. UH intends to implement a similar process for determining sublease rents for other observatories that will contribute substantially to the stewardship of Maunakea and will be applied when UH negotiates new sublease rents under a new land tenure that will ensure a future for astronomy past 2033. UH is actively engaged in the required environmental review for extension of land tenure including consideration of various options. UH is reviewing public comments received through the Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice, including multiple public meetings, and anticipates publishing a draft EIS in the first quarter of 2019, and a final EIS in the third quarter of 2019.

Last modified: November 20, 2018