Mauna Kea rules implementation could take 6 to 12 months

Mauna Kea. (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
Mauna Kea. (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
Published: Feb. 18, 2020 at 4:35 AM HST
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HILO, Hawaii (AP) — The University of Hawaii’s new administrative rules governing Mauna Kea could take up to a year before they are fully implemented, officials said.

Democratic Gov. David Ige approved the rules in January. But it is likely to be six to 12 months before they are put into effect on the state’s highest mountain, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

The rules codify what activities are permitted on the Big Island lands managed by the university, but a framework for action has not yet been finalized, officials said.

“Full implementation will take a number of steps,” said Greg Chun, board member of the Office of Maunakea Management.

The rules prohibit littering, speeding, noise disturbances, fires, drugs, alcohol, drones, and camping. They are also intended to regulate commercial activities, tours and motorized traffic, including off-road driving.

Demonstrators blocked access to Mauna Kea’s summit to prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope from July through December. Demonstrators said the project could damage land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians.

The parts of the new rules empowering Mauna Kea rangers to issue citations to violators are already in effect, Chun said.

Rangers are able to issue administrative citations to offenders, request that offenders leave the mountain, impose administrative fines, and call law enforcement if other measures fail.

The administration is still trying to determine a structure for managing citations, Chun said.

Rangers will issue warnings to violators before moving to citations or fines, university spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said.

“The rules are there to protect the resources up there,” Meisenzahl said. “We’re not trying to criminalize anyone, and we’re not trying to get rich off of these fines or anything.”

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