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Posts Tagged ‘BLNR’

“Uh, seriously?” –is probably the best way to describe our response to the BLNR’s recent decision that Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and conservationists (like Sierra Club members) have no standing to speak for the fate of public trust lands like Mauna Kea. And so, as people generally do when faced with crappy* administrative decision-making, we appealed today in court.

Read full article in the Hawaii Independent:

The State’s Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and the University of Hawaii are being challenged in court by Native Hawaiian practitioners, conservationists, and activists for rushing through a process that would pave the way for the building of the massive new Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea despite public opposition.

Conservationists say that the BLNR’s decision to approve the CMP before ruling on the petition for a contested case hearing is an affront to meaningful citizen participation in agency decisions and neglects citizens’ substantial rights.

“Citizen participation in agency decisions is an essential part of our democratic tradition,” said Nelson Ho of the Sierra Club. “The concept of meaningful public participation ensures decision-makers will have adequate information and minimizes the possibility of public corruption and back-room dealing.”

*We use the word “crappy” here, in the most respectful and “aloha-ful” way humanly possible, but we have to call it like it is, yo.

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From Melissa-

Tomorrow, we along with others will plead our case at the Board of Land and Natural Resource meeting for a contested case hearing on the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan.

Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, The Sierra Club-Hawaii, The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance, Dwight J. Vincente and Clarence Kukauakahi Ching have submitted a request for a contested case hearing on the plan.

Robert Harris, executive director of the Sierra Club, said that after the plan was approved in April Mauna Kea was chosen for a $1.2 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project.

“Our position is we’re not sure you should be approving new telescopes until this comprehensive management plan is finalized,” Harris said. “If you are going to call this a comprehensive management plan, I think you’re going to have to take into account future development and this plan specifically doesn’t address any development whatsoever.”

Department of Land and Natural Resources staff are recommending against a contested case hearing, saying there are no laws or rules requiring one because of the board’s approval of the plan and that the petitioners have no property interest in the project.

“The (comprehensive management plan) does not permit or authorize any new land use of development on Mauna Kea, including telescope projects,” the recommendation said.

Marti Townsend, program director for KAHEA, said there is a public interest in the protection of public trust resources. More time is needed to develop the plan and get public input, she said.

The DLNR says the acceptance of the plan doesn’t facilitate new construction but Townsend said she thinks it does, especially in light of the recent announcement of the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

“That was our concern all along — that we’re rushing through the management plan process in order to accommodate the TMT and so it’s really a development plan,” Townsend said.

To read full article click here.

The meeting will be held tomorrow (August 28, 2009) at 9:30 in the DLNR Board Room 132 on the first floor of the Kalanimoku Building at 1151 Punchbowl St. The Board Room is located on the makai (ocean) side of the building.

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sunset-mauna-kea

All in the same month! (The good, the bad, and the ugly):

– The “Na Kupuna Council O Moku O Keawe”, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs and the Mayor-Elect for Hawaii Island came out in support of protecting Mauna Kea from uncontrolled telescope construction. (Maika’i!)

– Proponents moved forward with plans to seek the construction the new, massive Thirty Meter Telescope proposed for Mauna Kea, despite the fact that there is NO court-mandated mangement plan in place to protect cultural and environmental resources of the mountain. (Bad)

– The Land Board agreed to hand-over management authority of the Natural Area Reserve on Mauna Kea to the proponent of all the telescope construction on the summit: The University of Hawaii. (Ugh. Lee.)

On this last item, over 400 of you submitted letters to the Land Board opposing this give-away.

But with glossy photos of the sacred summit and empty promises to better protect the unique resources of the summit, the University’s self-appointed advisory group called the “Office of Mauna Kea Management” lulled Land Board members into believing the University has the expertise and motivation to protect the Natural Area Reserve on Mauna Kea.

The community knows better. The University’s presence on the summit has only led to 40 years of over-development, loss of native habitat, and interference with traditional cultural practices.

The Reserve should not be managed by the University in any way. The mission of the Mauna Kea Reserve is to protect the natural and cultural resources of the area, which is in direct conflict with the University’s mission to expand telescope activities on the summit. In fact, the Reserve was established and removed from the University’s control in 1981 precisely because the significant resources there needed more protection from the University’s telescope construction.

The Reserve on Mauna Kea protects a unique and threatened mountainous desert habitat and Hawaii’s only alpine lake, Lake Waiau. The Reserve includes the largest adze quarrry in the Pacific, ancient and modern burials, and Queen Emma’s shrine. These are public trust lands–Hawaiian lands held by the state in public trust for the people of Hawaii. Protecting this area needs management by experts in land conservation and cultural resources, not telescope construction.

The University has an appalling record of protecting resources while it constructed over 50 telescope and support structures on Mauna Kea. A 2005 EIS confirmed that the cumulative impact of 30 years of telescope activity on the cultural and natural resources of Mauna Kea has been “substantial, adverse and significant.” And this trend continues today, despite the mantra there is “a new management paradigm” on Mauna Kea. Just as it has done many times before, the University is currently pushing to draft a management plan on its own terms, not the community’s, while at the same time entertaining the construction of a new massive telescope on the last pristine plateau of Mauna Kea.

The University has long sought more direct control over the mountain to further its long-standing financial interest in developing the summit for telescopes. This week, the Land Board’s decision brought the University one step closer to consolidating its control over the summit.

But there are many opportunities coming up to reign in the University and telescope activity on Mauna Kea. Stay tuned to help out in the effort to uphold the protections already on the books for Mauna Kea. In January, we expect the University to once again seek the Legislature’s approval to change the law to allow continued telescope expansion on the summit. The University has tried and failed many times before to command complete control over the summit, but each time the community has successfully educated decision-makers on good policy-making and upheld the protections for Mauna Kea.

Let’s get ready to do it again this year!

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