UH plan for Mauna Kea lacks telescope proposals


POSTED: Saturday, February 07, 2009

HILO » The University of Hawaii has issued a comprehensive management plan for Mauna Kea, produced in response to a court order linked to the now-dead proposal for six “;outrigger”; telescopes on the mountain.

While the 2006 order for the plan by Circuit Judge Glenn Hara was related to telescopes, the new 299-page plan says a lot about Hawaiian culture but little about astronomy.

It says there should be a buffers between telescopes and other users, that the clear air at the summit should be preserved and that sites for old, outdated telescopes should be restored to their natural state when instruments are removed.

But it says nothing about procedures for permitting new telescopes, such as the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope with a mirror 98 feet across.

“;Ours is not a development plan,”; said Dawn Chang, head of the firm Ku'iwalu, which wrote the plan for the university. She considered questions of new telescopes to be development concerns, not management concerns. She noted that new proposals such as the Thirty Meter Telescope have to write their own environmental studies and other documentation.

Kealoha Pisciotta, a critic of astronomical development on Mauna Kea, said the absence of methods for evaluating new proposals is part of what she sees as the university's attempt to take control of the mountain away from the general public.

There are four bills in the Legislature to increase university control of the mountain, she said.

The new plan does not require review by Judge Hara, but must be approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.