Ige Approves Maunakea Administrative Rules

January 14, 2020, 11:20 AM HST · Updated January 14, 11:20 AM
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This panoramic view of the 1935 Humuʻula flow (black lava) on both sides of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, which runs east to west in the saddle between Mauna Loa (snow-capped shield volcano at far left) and Maunakea (distant right), was taken from the top of Puʻuhuluhulu. View is to the northwest. The top of Hualālai is visible in far distance (center). USGS photo by J. Kauahikaua, Jan. 1, 2017.

Gov. David Ige signed the administrative rules for lands managed by the University of Hawaiʻi on Maunakea, the state announced Monday.

“With the opening of Mauna Kea Access Road and a return to normal activity on the mountain, I believe it is the right time to approve the rules,” Ige said in a press release.

“I have personally observed that there was too much traffic on Mauna Kea and these rules will give the university the tools needed to better manage public and commercial access.”

The UH Board of Regents adopted the rules on Nov. 6, 2019 after a special 11-hour meeting at UH Hilo, where 99 people testified.

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During the meeting, regents amended the draft based on testimony from several public hearings where community members expressed concerns that a provision related to group registration might impact the rights of Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners.

The purpose of the rules, as detailed under HRS 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 Department of Land and Natural Resources in UH management areas.”

According to the governorʻs office, the final version of the rules involved “extensive” consultation and public outreach with Native Hawaiian organizations, Hawaiʻi Island businesses, tour operators, and government agencies.

“We are grateful to Gov. Ige and especially to all the stakeholders and members of the public who participated in the lengthy process,” UH President David Lassner added. “With the adoption of these rules, UH can now address the last of the remaining concerns of the State Auditor regarding our management of Mauna Kea.” 

The first round of four public hearings on the initial draft was held in September 2018 on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, and O‘ahu.

A revised draft was prepared based on comments and concerns received during those public hearings. Those comments and concerns were then shared with stakeholder groups and the public during a three-month, informal outreach process that began in January 2019. 

A second round of four public hearings was held in June 2019. The draft that the regents eventually adopted included revisions based on 738 written submissions and 225 oral testimonies during the two rounds of public hearings in 2018 and 2019.

“It is now time to utilize these rules to address the issues with excessive traffic that have been raised, as well as to issue new permits for commercial tour operations,” UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin said.

“We look forward to working with the community as we move forward.”

The rules will go into effect on Jan. 23.

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