Governor Ige approves Maunakea administrative rules

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Ranger directing traffic on Maunakea

Gov. David Ige has approved and signed the administrative rules for land managed by the University of Hawaiʻi on Maunakea. The rules were filed with the lieutenant governor’s office today and will take effect 10 days from filing—on Jan. 23, 2019.

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

“With the opening of Maunakea Access Road and a return to normal activity on the mountain, I believe it is the right time to approve the rules,” said Gov. Ige. “I have personally observed that there was too much traffic on Maunakea and these rules will give the university the tools needed to better manage public and commercial access.”

The purpose of the rules, 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.”

The final version of the rules is the result of extensive consultation and public outreach that included Native Hawaiian organizations, Hawaiʻi Island business organizations, commercial tour operators and government agencies including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Office of the Hawaiʻi County Mayor, the Maunakea Management Board, and Kahu Kū Mauna.

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

The first round of four public hearings on the initial draft was held in September 2018 on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui and Oʻahu. 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 on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui and Oʻahu. 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,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin who has executive oversight responsibilities under the Master Plan and Comprehensive Management Plan for UH-managed lands on Maunakea. “We look forward to working with the community as we move forward.”