MANOA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of people filled the Manoa Elementary School cafeteria to share their thoughts on the University of Hawaii’s proposed rules for Mauna Kea.
It’s the first meeting in the University’s second round of public hearings.
The current proposal includes plans to ban drones, reduce traffic and establish fines for those breaking the rules. UH’s Senior Adviser to Mauna Kea, Greg Chun, says they hope the rules will improve stewardship of the mountain.
“We have made a concerted, honest effort to hear the concerns and change the rules and changes have been made. Substantive changes have been made," Chun said.
This is UH’s third draft of proposed rules since the process started in 2009.
Most who showed up at Monday night’s meeting were against the rules.
“I cannot imagine how you can have more damage to natural features, than by taking a bulldozer to them,” opponent Baron Ching testified, likely referring to construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope.
Others were against having any restrictions at all, fearing it will further limit access to the summit, which some consider sacred.
“I know you guys get one tough job, but we get one tougher job because we’re from here, we love our mauna and we going to protect our mauna until the day we die,” one man testified. “This is like my fourth time coming. And every time we come, it’s like on deaf ears.”
“It’s absurd to have, to enforce rules upon the rightful caretakers of their land,” opponent Mikey Inouye said. “And I oppose the TMT because let’s be real, that’s what this is all about right?”
But Chun says there will be rules no matter what.
“(The law) requires us to have rules because we are the holders of the master lease for Mauna Kea and we’re therefore responsible for ensuring its stewardship," Chun said.
Chun says the rules will provide “nuts and bolts” to managing access and commercial activities.
“We have done a lot of work to try and listen to the public and incorporate their feedback and we took the extra step that we weren’t required to do by going out and doing these informal consultations," Chun said.
The University is encouraging the public to submit feedback. Testimony will be heard at meetings across the state. A full list of times and locations can be found here.