Categorized | Education, Environment, News

Mauna Kea skiing/boarding incident investigation finds no damage, reaffirms need for management rules

MEDIA RELEASE

An investigation into three individuals using skis and snowboards to travel down the snow-free summit area of Maunakea found that there was no damage to cultural, archaeological, natural or scientific resources. However, the report cited that the incident highlighted the need for administrative rules for public and commercial activities on the University of Hawaiʻi managed lands on Maunakea, which the university is currently pursuing.

The incident was first reported on February 5, 2019, and drew widespread condemnation and an eventual apology from those involved. The investigation by the UH Hilo Office of Maunakea Management was completed on February 13 and included a retracing of the most-likely route used on the snow-free cinder of Puʻupoliʻahu, from where the three individuals exited their vehicle; walked past the sign indicating Puʻupoliʻahu, a Hawaiian sacred site; hiked to the top and made their way downslope to a point where they hiked out to their vehicle.

There was no legal recourse to penalize the individuals because no laws were broken. UH is in the process of developing administrative rules, an essential resource management tool that would address these types of situations. UH is currently seeking public comment on the latest draft.

Skiing and/or snowboarding in the same area as the incident, or when it is snow-free anywhere on the summit, would not be allowed under the current draft of the rules. The administrative rules would allow the university to cite and fine offenders, in addition to imposing a monetary assessment to recover costs related to damage that results from a violation.

The current request for public input is part of an informal consultation process that includes meetings with various stakeholder groups. The latest draft will be updated based on the feedback received ahead of the second round of formal public hearings, tentatively scheduled for spring. The public is asked to participate in the next round of public hearings, even if they submitted feedback during the informal process.

To provide comments on the informal draft, please submit (1) via email at MKRules@hawaii.edu; or (2) in writing to the UH Government Relations Office, 2442 Campus Road, Administrative Services Building 1-101, Honolulu, HI, 96822. The deadline for informal comments is Friday, March 15, 2019, at 4:30 p.m.

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