Timeline of Events

Timeline of events on Mauna Keaʻs summit.

ahahoowilimoo.jpg. Wākea lived with Papa, begetter of islands. Begotten was Hawai`i, an island.  Mele Kumu Honua

Pre-Western Contact. This sacred landscape is home to numerous trails, ahu, heiau, cinder cone pu`u (hills), and burials, and a center for Hawaiian navigational, astronomical and meterological knowlege. In modern Hawai`i, the sacred summit remains a wao akua, of Wākea (‘Sky Father’ to all Hawaiians) and the piko (umbilical cord) of the island-child, Hawai`i, connecting the land to the heavens on the the highest point in the Pacific.

1968. The state Land Board issues a general lease to the University of Hawai`i to build one observatory on Mauna Kea.  Over the next 20 years, developers build a number of telescope complexes, without permits. Over public protest, the Land Board issues “after the fact” permits for the unauthorized development.

1983-1985.  Mauna Kea Complex Development Plan prepared and approved by BLNR in 1985.  This plan allows up to thirteen (13) telescopes by the year 2000.

1992-1996.  Three more telescopes constructed.

1998. Hawai‘i State Auditor releases critical report documenting 30 years of mismanagement of Mauna Kea by the Land Board and University of Hawai`i.

1999. Two more telescopes constructed. Developers propose four to six more telescopes, finding “no significant impact” in a short environmental assessment.

2000. The 2000 Master Plan is developed by UH, allowing for at least 40 new telescopes and support structures.

Developed Area of Mauna Kea2002.  Eight more telescopes constructed.

2003. U.S. District Court (Judge Susan Mollway) finds NASA's EA for the Keck Outrigger Project to be inadequate for failure to adequately address cumulative impacts. UHIFA applies for a CDUP for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes. A lengthy contested case hearing ensues in which UHIFA and BLNR take the position that a comprehensive management plan is not required for additional astronomy development, and that a piecemeal project specific "management plan" is adequate.

2004. NASA announces it will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes. The state contested case hearing before BLNR ends. BLNR issues a CDUP for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes Project, allowing additional astronomy development to proceed without a comprehensive management plan. Community groups appeal to the State Third Circuit Court.

2005.  A court-ordered EIS concludes the cumulative impact of 30 years of astronomy activity has caused “significant, substantial and adverse” harm. State law prohibits permits for projects in conservation districts that cause significant and adverse harm.

2006. NASA withdraws funding for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes project. The State Third Circuit Court (Judge Glenn Hara) finds that a comprehensive management plan is required before further astronomy development on Mauna Kea and reverses CDUP granted for the Keck Outrigger Telescopes Project. UHIFA appeals Judge Hara's decision.

2007. UHIFA withdraws appeal of Third Circuit Court ruling and begins process of creating Comprehensive Management Plan for Mauna Kea.

2009. The Land Board approves UH’s “Comprehensive Management Plan,” a development plan which paves the way for an unlimited number of new telescopes and support structures. Long-time advocates call for a contested case. The Board denies their standing, on the basis of “no property, no say.” The group heads to court.

2010. There are three open proposals for new telescope developments on the summit. Developers for the largest, the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope, apply for a permit to build in the summit conservation district from the BLNR in October 2010.

Today, community advocates for Mauna Kea continue in their fight for a better future for this wahi pana.

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Click here to view a timeline of Mauna Kea legal actions since 2011


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