HONOLULU, Hawaii (June 16th, 2000) The University of Hawai’i Board of Regents today approved a Master Plan for future uses of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve atop the state’s highest mountain. In a separate vote, Regents approved the immediate establishment of the Office of Management – called for in the Master Plan, and administratively placed in the Office of the Chancellor at UH Hilo – to begin implementing provisions of the Plan.
The Plan calls for the creation of a 525 – acre Astronomy Precinct within the existing 11,288 – acre Science Reserve. All future development would be confined to this precinct, and astronomy development in particular would be restricted to designated siting areas totaling only 150 acres. The remaining 10,763 acres – fully 95 percent of the Science Reserve – will be set aside as a natural and cultural preservation area, ensuring for the first time that the vast majority of the Mauna Kea summit land will never be developed.
Work on the Plan began more than two years ago with university President Kenneth P. Mortimer’s appointment of a Mauna Kea Advisory Committee. The Committee’s draft plan was circulated for extensive public review over a period of ten months. Modifications were incorporated into subsequent drafts to address concerns of all interested parties. An Environmental Impact Statement was also prepared and approved by Governor Cayetano in February.
President Mortimer, commenting on this moming’s approval of the Plan, said “We now stand at the threshold, ready to go forward on the Plan’s implementation under the leadership of UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng and in full partnership with community members on the Big Island.
“Today’s appointment of a new director for the Institute for Astronomy (see separate release), together with development of the Master P1an, has generated considerable interest and excitement in the astronomy community both here in Hawai’i and abroad. This is an historic enterprise, and we are grateful to everyone who has participated in this process.”
Key provisions of the Plan:
– Limit potential development of new astronomy facilities on Mauna Kea to three sites, and allow expansion of two existing sites, with no new construction allowed on any unrnodified pu’u (cinder cones)
– Limit potential redevelopment to no more than five existing facilities
– Preserve open access to Mauna Kea for spiritual and cultural purposes
– Establish future cultural, educational and community programs on Mauna Kea
In addition, the Plan ensures:
– A design and approval process that subjects allowable construction projocts to community review and comment and all state and federal regulations
– Management of Mauna Kea’s botanical and geological resources and of the area’s historical and cultural sites
– Preservation of the area for practice of Native Hawaiian cultural traditions and beliefs
– Continued access for recreational opportunities, limited only by concerns for public safety as dictated by weather and road conditions
The final version of the Master Plan was passed in an amended form to reduce the number of proposed new observatories from five to three. Other changes to the language of the Plan included specific criteria that were to be considered in the review of new projects and to assure that the Kahu/Kupuna Council – an advisory group for cultural and educational matters – would be included in any review process.
The Board also passed two related resolutions – one of them laying out a timetable for the university administration to report back at the Regents’ October meeting with a plan for implementing the educational, cultural and environmental components of the plan. The other emphasizes that while the Board is the ultimate policymaking entity in these matters, all due consideration in the management of Mauna Kea resources should be given to recommendations by the Mauna Kea Management Board and the Kahu/Kupuna Council.
(From the University of Hawaii, Dept. of University Relations, (808) 956-8856)