INDEPENDENT EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MAUNA KEA COMPREHENSIVE MANAGEMENT PLAN
Prepared for Department of Land and Natural Resources by Kuʻiwalu, December 2020
It has been over ten (10) years since the approval of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP), 1 and the emotions related to Mauna Kea have not diminished but, to the contrary, have intensified and polarized the community. We recognize that the current issues related to Mauna Kea, in particular the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), is a contentious issue. To be very clear, this Report is not for or about TMT. The purpose of this Report is to provide the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) an independent evaluation of the University of Hawaiʻi (UH), specifically the Office of Mauna Kea Management’s (OMKM), implementation of the CMP management actions contained in Section 7 of the CMP and the public input on how effective UH is managing Mauna Kea. This Report is intended to be a resource to DLNR and the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) as it reviews UH’s current and potential future management of the state conservation lands at Mauna Kea.
Gathering and incorporating public input into the evaluation process was a critical component of this Report. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we were challenged with providing an appropriate venue for the public and stakeholders to, (1) get current and accurate information about the management actions (MA) UH is required to implement under the CMP, and (2) provide a transparent and fair opportunity for public input into the UH’s implementation of the CMP. We assembled a comprehensive range of tools to provide information and to solicit public input, from email updates, virtual public meetings, dedicated website, and a Facebook page, to small virtual talk story sessions. Throughout the evaluation process, we engaged almost 500 individuals and organizations. We recognize that we may not have heard from everyone, but we believe the range and interests of the participants is reflective of the general public and stakeholders in Mauna Kea.
The Report consists of three assessments. First, OMKM’s self-assessment of their implementation of the CMP. Second, the public’s assessment, based upon the comments we received. And third, the independent evaluation utilizing the logic model approach that took into consideration UH’s self-assessment, the public input, the timeliness of OMKM’s implementation of MAs, and whether UH’s implementation of the 103 MAs achieved the desired outcomes as set forth in the CMP.
With respect to UH’s self-assessment, the OMKM 2020 Annual Report to the Board of Land and Natural Resources, Status of the Implementation of the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (OMKM 2020 Annual Report to BLNR) essentially concludes that “most management actions have either been implemented or are in progress.” For the most part, the UH Management Entities 2 believe they have made considerable progress in effectively implementing the CMP MAs and are, in fact, better managing and protecting the cultural and natural resources. However, there is a difference of opinion between UH-Hilo Management Entities (UH-Hilo Entities)3 and the larger UH System with respect to the public’s perception of how effective OMKM is in managing the state conservation lands at Mauna Kea. Accordingly, “in response to past criticisms” 4 the UH Board of Regents (BOR) adopted Resolution 19-03 to take timely action to comply with the management plans, including cultural education and community outreach, decommissioning, and reorganization and restructuring the UH governance structure in their management of Mauna Kea.
The public’s assessment of how effectively UH has implemented the CMP has primarily varied depending on whether they are in favor or opposition of telescope development on Mauna Kea. Those who support existing and future telescope development on Mauna Kea believe that OMKM has adequately implemented the CMP MAs to preserve and protect the cultural and natural resources on Mauna Kea. For those who do not support continued telescope development on Mauna Kea beyond 2033, the expiration of the existing state lease, they believe that UH continues to mismanage Mauna Kea as concluded in the 1998 State Auditor’s Report. In particular, those in opposition believe that UH continues to advocate telescope development over the protection and preservation of the resources.
Finally, the independent evaluation found that OMKM has made progress in implementing most of the CMP MAs, and in many regards OMKM is effectively managing the activities and uses on Mauna Kea to better protect the natural and cultural resources. We heard many comments that the cultural and natural resources on the state conservation lands on Mauna Kea are some of the best managed and protected lands in the entire State. The area is clear of trash, the invasive species are being removed not only by OMKM but volunteer groups, and the OMKM Rangers to ensure public safety on Mauna Kea.
However, the independent evaluation also found that OMKM has not effectively implemented the CMP in three major areas. First, the adoption of the administrative rules was untimely. In 2009, the same year that the CMP was approved, UH obtained legislative authorization to adopt administrative rules to manage the activities on Mauna Kea to ensure the protection of the resources. However, the rules did not become effective until 2020. UH’s failure to timely adopt administrative rules has limited their ability to manage public access and regulate commercial activities, essentially hampering their ability to protect the resources and public health and safety on Mauna Kea.
Second, members of the Native Hawaiian community, both those who oppose and support UH’s management of Mauna Kea, were not consulted on matters related to cultural and resources issues. The CMP specifically identifies the Native Hawaiian stakeholders to include families with cultural and lineal connections to Mauna Kea, Kūpuna, cultural practitioners, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other Native Hawaiian groups. Representatives from these stakeholder groups have consistently commented that they were not consulted by OMKM on cultural issues, including removal of family shrines, stacking of Pōhaku, and identification of cultural sites.
Third, OMKM did not effectively engage with the community, in particular, members of the Native Hawaiian community, on education and outreach efforts, including decision-making process related to the management of Mauna Kea. Many Native Hawaiians on Hawaii Island feel disengaged and disrespected by OMKM. In particular, there is an absence of genuine consultation with the Native Hawaiian community that has resulted in greater mistrust of UH. Even with the Native Hawaiian constituency who strongly support OMKM and telescope development, OMKM has not taken the opportunity to involve them in their community outreach efforts.
Unfortunately, these inadequacies by OMKM have overshadowed their progress in the otherwise effective implementation of many of the CMP MAs.
read … Full Report
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