United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, Maunakea Observatory

United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, Maunakea Observatory

Editor’s note: The Board of Regents approved the second round of public hearings at their April 18, 2019 meeting.

The University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents is being requested to approve a second round of public hearings on a new draft of proposed administrative rules for Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island. The administrative rules are an essential resource management tool for public and commercial activities on UH-managed lands on Maunakea. The regents will take up the request at their April 18 meeting at Leeward Community College.

The initial draft of the rules was the subject of the first round of public hearings in September 2018 on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui and Oʻahu. Based on concerns expressed about the initial draft at those public hearings, a revised draft was prepared. Among the issues addressed in the revised draft were concerns regarding Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights, limits on the use of cell phones and flashlights, permit requirements for large groups and public assemblies, and allowing only four-wheel drive vehicles above Halepōhaku, the mid-level facility.

That revised draft was utilized during three-month informal consultation process that included meetings with stakeholder groups and an opportunity for the public to submit comments. In addition to direct outreach, approximately 108 written comments were received, in addition to approximately 140 responses from a third-party, online petition. These comments from the informal consultation were utilized to prepare the new draft.

The university is now proposing to hold a second series of four public hearings on the new draft administrative rules. These hearings would also be in Hilo and Waikoloa on Hawaiʻi Island; in Kahului on Maui and in Honolulu. The public is strongly encouraged to continue to participate in the process, as all testimony will be taken into consideration as the rules are finalized.

The purpose of the proposed rules (under Section 20-26-1) is to “provide for the proper use, management, and protection of cultural, natural, and scientific resources of the UH management areas; to promote public safety and welfare by regulating public and commercial activity within the UH management areas; to ensure safe and appropriate access to the UH management areas for the public; and to foster co-management with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Land and Natural Resources and UH.”

If the request is approved, public hearings are expected to be planned for early June. The rules will then be updated if necessary and be brought back before the UH Board of Regents for consideration at a publicly noticed meeting where further public testimony will be accepted. If approved by the Board of Regents at that time, the rules will proceed through the remainder of the Administrative Rules process to the governor for final review and approval.