View of Maunakea's shadow, the true summit and the moon

Commitment to Maunakea and Hawaiʻi

The University of Hawaiʻi is privileged to be the State’s lead for astronomy on Maunakea. This began in the 1960’s at the request of Hawaiʻi Island residents and with the support of the state to advance scientific knowledge utilizing Hawaiʻi’s natural resources and to diversify the economies of the island and the state. With this privilege comes the responsibility to mālama Maunakea, a wahi pana, storied place.

UH stewardship of Maunakea

UH has made great strides in its management of Maunakea since a critical state audit in 1998. The comprehensive follow-up by the state auditor in 2014 observed:

“We found that UH has developed several management plans that provide a comprehensive framework for managing and protecting Mauna Kea while balancing the competing interests of culture, conservation, scientific research and recreation.”

The dramatic turnaround occurred with UH’s shift of stewardship responsibility to Hawaiʻi Island and the creation of the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) in 2000 in Hilo. Two community based boards were also established. The Mauna Kea Management Board and Kahu Kū Mauna Native Hawaiian advisory council provide guidance and counsel to UHvideosgratis欧美另类 on management matters and cultural stewardship.

Management Plans

Man recording data for historic property monitoring at east-edge of science reserve

Openly developed and adopted management plans

With this commitment to community and island-based management, OMKM led the development of the much-needed Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) and its four subplans. These were created with significant community input and the State Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the CMP in 2009, and (along with the UH Board of Regents) the subplans in 2010. The CMP provides overarching management guidelines for Maunakea including subplans for public access, cultural resources management, natural resources management and decommissioning of observatories as well as management of construction activities, education and outreach.

UH open to alternative management models

In 2017 the UH Board of Regents formally adopted a resolution to affirm UH’s commitment to the collaborative stewardship of Maunakea’s cultural, natural, educational and scientific resources in a manner that integrates traditional indigenous knowledge and modern science. The resolution directs the university to work with the state, County of Hawaiʻi, Native Hawaiian organizations and the community to achieve this aim, and also directs the university to increase the engagement of Native Hawaiian students, Hawaiʻi Island residents and residents of the State of Hawaiʻi in the areas of astronomy, celestial navigation and exploration through an active educational and outreach program that highlights indigenous knowledge as well as enhanced student access to and utilization of Maunakea-based astronomical resources. UH stands open and ready to collaborate with all.

Water from melted snow accumulates into a lake on Maunakea

Culture and Education

Imiloa Astronomy Center at U H Hilo

ʻImiloa honors Maunakea

The at UH Hilo opened in 2006 with a mission to honor Maunakea in all its dimensions, exploring science and culture as different facets of the same reality. ʻImiloa is arguably the only science center in the world founded for the explicit purpose of public education on contemporary science within the context of an indigenous culture. Few places are better suited to explore this interplay than Hawaiʻi, where world-class science exists among a rich and remarkable indigenous culture. ʻImiloa has attracted more than one million visitors to the center—85 percent of whom are local, including 120,000 K–12 schoolchildren through guided field trips and other educational programs. The center’s outreach efforts have reached more than 20,000 people throughout the world through programs delivered directly in schools and communities.

Two children watch as an instructor demonstrates a techniques using colored discs and a flash light

Educational outreach and opportunity

Providing the community and students of all ages opportunities to experience the wonders of astronomy is a top priority. OMKM and the Maunakea observatories organize events that reach more than 13,000 students and community members annually. UH Hilo astronomy students now have access to the Maunakea telescopes, an amazing opportunity unavailable to undergraduates elsewhere. And the new Maunakea Scholars program—a collaboration between the Department of Education, UH and Maunakea Observatories that began in 2015—provides Hawaiʻi’s high school students with the remarkable opportunity to engage in world-class science using the best resources in the world with the support of Hawaiʻi’s premiere astronomers and UH graduate students. As of the 2018–2019 school year, the program is already reaching approximately 350 local students in 12 Hawaiʻi high schools.

Stewardship and Environmental Impact

skyline view of Maunakea observatories

Observatory decommissioning underway

Three observatories have been publicly identified to be decommissioned before the deadlines in the openly approved decommissioning subplan. Two of these decommissioning initiatives are already underway, and all will follow the stringent guidelines of the Comprehensive Management Plan that requires review of telescope deconstruction, removal, site restoration, environmental due diligence, and cultural considerations. The university has firmly and formally committed that no new sites beyond that identified for TMTvideosgratis欧美另类 will be developed for astronomy on Maunakea.

Observatory on Maunakea

Substantial sublease rents planned

Current observatories entered into subleases in the last century that did not provide substantial rent payments, although these observatories make substantial payments for common services including road maintenance and the Visitor Information Station. UH initiated a new approach with TMT, which agreed to pay more than a million dollars per year in rent when fully operational to support stewardship of Maunakea as well as support its share of common services. TMT also provides a separate community benefits package of an additional million dollars per year focused on STEM education on Hawaiʻi Island and support for a workforce pipeline specifically to help Hawaiʻi Island residents prepare for jobs in astronomy. UH intends to implement a similar process for determining sublease rents for other observatories that will contribute substantially to the stewardship of Maunakea and will be applied when UH negotiates new sublease rents under a new land tenure that will ensure a future for astronomy past 2033. UH is actively engaged in the required environmental review for extension of land tenure including consideration of various options. UH is reviewing public comments received through the Environmental Impact Statement Preparation Notice, including multiple public meetings, and anticipates publishing a draft EIS in the first quarter of 2019, and a final EIS in the third quarter of 2019.

Public Access

People viewing the sunset from the top of Maunakea

Managing public and commercial activities

UH is holding hearings for the public to provide input on the proposed draft administrative rules that will govern certain activities on UH management areas. The rules provide the university with an important stewardship tool for the protection of cultural, natural, and scientific resources; the public’s health and safety; and for ensuring access for customary and traditional Native Hawaiian practices. An essential element of the rules is traffic and congestion, which has increased since the improvements to the Daniel. K. Inouye Highway portion of Saddle Road. The rules provide a framework for sustainable commercial tour activities that support stewardship. Already, in coordination with UH, the Department of Land and Natural Resources has stepped up illegal tour operator enforcement on its lands adjacent to UHvideosgratis欧美另类 management areas.

Snow on Maunakea with observatories

Ensuring access

With substantial financial support from the observatories, UH also ensures safe access for cultural practitioners and the public by maintaining the road to the
videosgratis欧美另类 summit with twice weekly grading, snow plowing when necessary and issuance of weather alerts.

Recognition and Protection

Two researchers monitoring historical site near Puuwaiau

Exemplary stewardship recognized

In 2017, UH stewardship of Maunakea was lauded with the highest recognition of preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and interpretation of the state’s architectural, archaeological and cultural heritage from the Hawaiʻivideosgratis欧美另类 Historic Foundation.

Maunakea Rangers protect people and the mauna

Established in 2001, UHvideosgratis欧美另类’s Maunakea Rangers program has been key to the turnaround. The rangers are on duty every day, interacting with approximately 300,000 visitors each year including cultural practitioners, local residents, tourists and observatory personnel. Rangers provide first response emergency care and health and safety warnings. They also answer questions regarding the cultural, scientific and natural resources of Maunakea and provide protection against inappropriate behaviors.

Maunakea Ranger giving advise to visitors in vehicle

Cultural Connections, Resources, and Preservation

Alpine tetramolopim, close-up of small white petaled flowers with dew hanging on

Strengthening cultural and community connections

UHvideosgratis欧美另类 is beginning work to envision and plan a stronger educational program on Maunakea for visitors and the public, as well as those who work on the mauna, around culture as well as the environment, history, astronomy and science. A key element of this will be the creation of a more integrated center at the mid-level facility.

Monitoring cultural resources

UH conducts rigorous, annual monitoring of more than 260 historical, archaeological and cultural sites, including shrines, ahu and burials based on long term monitoring and burial plans approved by the State Historic Preservation Division. The sites were identified in an extensive archaeological inventory survey that the university completed for the 11,288-acre Maunakea Science Reserve and access road.

Protecting flora and fauna

UHvideosgratis欧美另类 has a robust natural resources program for the mountain and oversees regular monitoring of the mountain’s plant life as identified in the botanical survey of the Maunakea Science Reserve conducted by the university. Regular surveys and control programs are also conducted for invasive species that threaten the environment. Numerous students and volunteers assist with the program with more than 1,800 garbage bags of weeds pulled since 2012.

Wēkiu bug success story

The wēkiu bug was first listed as a candidate for federal protection in 1999, and UH began conducting intensive annual surveys in 2002. After years of research on the insect’s biology, genetics and habitat, combined with UH’s Comprehensive Management Plan assuring its protection, the wēkiu was removed as a candidate for federal protection in 2011.

Maunakea wekiu male insect

Last modified: August 5, 2019