Mauna Kea Road Closed Until Further Notice Amid Ongoing Demonstrations

June 25, 2015, 4:31 PM HST · Updated June 25, 4:31 PM
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Mauna Kea demonstration, 6.24.15. Photo credit: Andre Perez.

Mauna Kea demonstration, 6.24.15. Photo credit: Andre Perez.

By Maui Now Staff

The boulders and rock structures that were found on the gravel road leading to the summit of Mauna Kea yesterday have since been removed, but the road remains closed until further notice.

Stone ahu or alters were constructed by demonstrators who have been fighting to protect the site from development and from construction of the planned Thirty Meter Telescope or TMT atop the summit.

There were also boulders found strewn over portions on the roadway yesterday, prompting an earlier statement from the Governor’s office expressing disappointment in the find.

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Today the Office of Mauna Kea Managment worked collaboratively with volunteers and individuals who have been demonstrating at the site to clear the road of rocks.

In addition to the stones, another physical boundary of yesterday’s demonstration included 64 rows of demonstrators staggered up the mountain, with kupuna or elders marking the first line of defense.

Cultural advocates say it took hours for enforcement officers to get past the first group, but as the day progressed, a total of 11 individuals were arrested.

Governor David Ige today said, “the state continues to assess and monitor the situation to ensure the safety of the people on Mauna Kea.”

In a statement released this afternoon, the governor said, “The road has been temporarily closed until further notice. The Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan authorizes the University of Hawai‘i to close the road in the event of hazardous conditions and emergencies.”

He said questions regarding the grading of the road leading to the summit have also been raised during this time. In his statement he said, “It is routine practice for OMKM to conduct regular road gradings twice a week to ensure the safety and integrity of the road.”

He also stated that the Mauna Kea Visitors Center is also closed until further notice.

Here on Maui, a separate demonstration at the Central Maui Baseyard effectively prevented a convoy from departing to deliver equipment to the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope under construction at Haleakalā on Maui.  A request for comment from construction administrators for the project was not available today.  Project representatives say a statement is expected from administrators on the mainland tomorrow.

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