BLNR OKs updates to Maunakea plan

A Hawaiian activist on Friday said she plans to seek a contested case hearing after the Board of Land and Natural Resources voted to approve updates to the University of Hawaii’s Maunakea management plan.

The BLNR on Friday discussed an updated supplement to the Comprehensive Management Plan, a framework for Maunakea devised by UH’s Center of Maunakea Stewardship. The CMS proposed the supplement earlier this year, which replaces certain passages within the original 2009 plan with more detailed language.


CMS Executive Director Greg Chun said UH has an obligation to update its management plans, despite the fact that a new state agency will take over management of the mountain in 2028.

“It is our responsibility to manage Maunakea until it isn’t,” Chun said.

The primary changes to the plan are to a chapter describing the management plans governing certain aspects of the land such as cultural resources, construction guidelines, and more. The updated plan significantly expands those descriptions, and puts greater focus on outreach to the Native Hawaiian community.

But several members of the Native Hawaiian community on Friday urged the BLNR to reject the plan, with testifiers claiming they had not been given sufficient opportunity to provide feedback.

Big Island resident E. Kalani Flores said he believes the updated CMP is “deficient and incomplete,” adding that it was created with little consultation with Hawaiian cultural practitioners.

Flores said he and others submitted extensive written testimony to the BLNR explaining as much, but added that the board members could not possibly have read all of it before Friday’s meeting, and therefore asked the board to defer action on the matter so they could take public comments under advisement.

Bianca Isaki, Maunakea legal director for the activist nonprofit KAHEA, said she has “broad foundational and specific problems” with the CMP.

Specifically, she said the new CMP supplement changes provisions within the plan that would support the federal designation of Maunakea’s summit lands as a “traditional cultural property.” While the original plan supported designating the entire summit lands as a TCP, Isaki said the updated plan only supports that designation for those parts of the mountain that have already received that designation at the state level.

“It’s carving up the summit in ways it was never meant to,” Isaki said, adding no consultants on the CMP since then have recommended changes to the TCP passages.

Another testifier, Laulani Teale, said she would request a contested case hearing based on public health concerns if the BLNR voted to approve the CMP, arguing that the state’s disregard for Hawaiian cultural practitioners is “seriously affecting” the health of Native Hawaiians.

Ultimately, the board voted to approve the plan supplement as presented, although not unanimously. Maui board member Doreen Canto voted against approval, saying the board needs to allow the community more time to be heard.

“(The community) is in a world of hurt right now, and I think there are more things that need to come out in the wash. It needs to be clear as to why we should accept this,” Canto said.

As for Teale’s contested case request, BLNR Chair Suzanne Case said the board could not take up the matter immediately at Friday’s meeting, but told Teale she had 10 days to file her request.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

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