After years of debate, UH Board of Regents approve new Mauna Kea master plan

After five years of debates and rewrites, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents approved Mauna Kea's master plan.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:19 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 5:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Following hours of testimony Thursday, the UH Board of Regents voted to approve a new master plan for Mauna Kea.

The 7-to-1 vote is the culmination of years on debate on the issue. The plan outlines the University of Hawaii’s vision for the summit and management guidelines for the next 20 years.

And while it limits the number of telescopes, it doesn’t specifically mention the Thirty Meter Telescope.

“The Thirty Meter telescope is a fully permitted project. The master plan does accommodate completion of the project,” said Greg Chun, executive director of Mauna Kea stewardship.

“It also accommodates a situation or scenario in which the TMT is not built.”

The regents received about 1,400 pages of testimony on the plan.

Meanwhile, there is a push at the state Legislature to transfer the management of the summit to a new entity. Some regents said Thursday that might be a good idea.

Healani Sonoda Pale, a TMT opponent, urged the BOR before their vote to “listen to the voices, our voices, the voices of the kanaka maoli people and the kiai of Mauna Kea.”

But astronomy professor emeritus Alan Tokunaga said stopping TMT will do more harm than good.

“I am saddened by the controversy of astronomy development on Mauna Kea,” he said. “However, stopping the TMT and even stopping all of astronomy in Hawaii will not resolve the underlying issues raised by the key movement and it will not yield a better future for the next generation.”

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