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Update of UH Maunakea management plan goes to state for final approval

The UH Board of Regents recently approved a 2022 update to the comprehensive management plan of 11,288 acres on Maunakea managed by UH. Photo Courtesy: UH

Although the state legislature recently passed a bill that if enacted would end the University of Hawaiʻi’s stewardship of 11,288 acres on Maunakea, the UH Board of Regents on May 19 unanimously approved an update to the comprehensive management plan of the land.

The approved 2022 supplement will be submitted to the Board of Land and Natural Resources for final approval.

UH President David Lassner explained that even if House Bill 2024 is enacted, the University of Hawaiʻi would still be responsible to care for Maunakea under that bill until 2028.

“This update to the Comprehensive Management Plan supports continuing improvement in our stewardship,” Lassner said. “We need to care for the mauna and people on the mauna to the very best of our abilities for as long as it is our responsibility.” 

Lassner also said the bill could be vetoed by the governor.

The bill calls for establishing an 11-member board to take over stewardship, management and human activity on Maunakea, a dormant volcano on the Big Island that has 13 astronomical observation facilities due to it being one of the best sites in the world for this activity.

UH’s comprehensive management plan (CMP) is used to manage multiple uses and activities on the state conservation land on Maunakea that was leased to UH in order to protect and conserve the mauna’s natural and cultural resources. The supplement amends and updates two of seven sections (management environment and management component plans sections) from the 2009 comprehensive management plan.

The approved 2022 update can be viewed by clicking on BOR agenda item VII.E of the Notice of Meeting.

The updated CMP was finalized after substantial public input from the community as well as several Department of Land and Natural Resources divisions, including the State Historic Preservation Division, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands, Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

“The comprehensive management plan is the heart of UH’s stewardship,” said Greg Chun, the Executive Director of the UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship. “Our people live, breathe and act on it every single day. And as a result, the mauna and all those who practice and work there, whether cultural practitioners or astronomers, are protected. None of it could be done without the incredible people that we have on our team.”

Chun said that many of the stewardship programs were a result of the CMP including the Maunakea Rangers, invasive species management, native species monitoring, native plant restoration, habitat monitoring and research, community outreach and educational signage. 

Before the regents voted on the plan, Vice Chair Alapaki Nahale-a, who is a Hawaiʻi County regent, said Maunakea has been a challenging issue for him personally.

“When I started as a Regent, I could not say that I was proud of the way UH managed Maunakea because, a) I did not know of the things we did so I couldn’t honestly say I was proud and b) there were things I had questions and concerns with,” Nahale-a said. “But I can sit here today and say I am very proud of the way the university stewards Maunakea. I think we have done a lot of things to really embrace that responsibility and that we are a better steward today than we were two, three years ago, without question.”

The Regents approved the motion to approve the CMP supplement with nine votes in favor and two members excused.

President statement on Maunakea bill, HB 2024.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/05/25/update-of-uh-maunakea-management-plan-goes-to-state-for-final-approval/

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