News, updates, finds, and stories from staff and community members at KAHEA.
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News, updates, finds, stories, and tidbits from staff and community members at KAHEA. Got something to share? Email us at:

Action Alert: Unite to Save the Scared Summits!

Take Action Now!Plans for major construction in the sensitive ecosystems of our most sacred summits continue to push forward, despite significant opposition from the community.  The University of Hawaii has filed two environmental impact statements — one for the world’s largest telescope in the world’s only tropical alpine desert, and another for a duplicative solar telescope in one of the most threatened national parks in the U.S. Both of these projects can be built in less sensitive areas.

Though both summits are protected as conservation districts, where the law expressly discourages construction, the University refuses to compromise, insisting that these giant, intrusive structures be built where they will cause the most harm.

Don’t let good science be used to justify unnecessary ecological destruction and cultural disrespect.  Take action now to defend our sacred, fragile summits.


Protect Haleakala — the House of the Sun — from another, unnecessary solar telescope 

Defend the Sacred Summit of Mauna Kea from the World’s Largest Telescope

Public hearings on the proposal to build the world’s largest telescope on Mauna Kea are being held now.  All meetings are 5 to 8 p.m., with an open house in the beginning, followed by formal presentations, and then comments from the public. 

Public Hearings on the New Mauna Kea Telescope Proposal 

June 16 (Tuesday)  Waimea – Waimea Elementary School Cafeteria

June 17 (Wednesday) Hilo – Hilo High School Cafeteria

June 18 (Thursday) Puna – Pahoa High School Cafeteria

June 22 (Monday) Ka’u – Ka’u High/Pahala Elementary School Cafeteria

June 23 (Tuesday) Hawi – Kohala Cultural Center

June 24 (Wednesday) Kona – Kealakehe Elementary School Cafeteria

June 25 (Thursday) Honolulu – Farrington High School Cafeteria

The Draft EIS is available on the Project website – – and hard copies can be found at public libraries throughout Hawaii.


Get action alerts like these sent directly to your inbox by signing up with KAHEA’s action alert network at

UH Battles on for Massive Telescope

Posted by alanakahea at Jun 16, 2009 07:01 PM |
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From Alana:

Perhaps Instead of a clearer picture of the space outside our world, those on the high slopes of Mauna Kea need to have a better focus of what is nearest to them.
For over 30 years the University of Hawai’i system has been adamant about constructing as many telescopes as possible on the summit of Mauna Kea. Since that time has elapsed, they have built a road network that leads to 13 massive telescopes, some of which consist of several structures. The construction itself, to put it lightly, was destructive and careless. It has led to the compromise of a very fragile ecosystem, and the subsequent endangerment of various species including the Wekiu bug. Native Hawaiians who value Mauna Kea for its sacred history in their culture have also had to deal with restricted use of the summit for ancestral worship. Life is already struggling to cope with the development on Mauna Kea, and now another telescope– the largest in the world– is still in reach for the University. It would be situated upon the last untouched plateau of Mauna Kea, and could feasibly cause as much destruction as the other telescopes combined.
To learn more about the fight to protect Mauna Kea, and to get involved, go to

This website for the Sacred Land Film Project poignantly describes the history, importance, and contemporary issues of Mauna Kea.

Insanity Reigns at Hawaii's State Capitol

From Marti:

The Hawaii Legislature is seriously considering a raid on our most important conservation funds in order to balance the state budget.  This is insane given all that these few millions do to protect the quality of our drinking water, the health of our native ecosystems, and truly local jobs.  But, the insanity goes a step further once you realize they are considering these massive cuts when the state is owed millions upon millions for the use of public land on Mauna Kea.

For 40 years foreign-owned telescopes have used (and destroyed) acres of public land on the summit of Mauna Kea without paying any rent.  Rent, that is required by state law!  It’s estimated that the state could earn at least $50 million a year just by charging market-based rent for the use of our public lands, instead of giving it away to foreign corporations and countries… and cutting important programs and jobs to make ends meet.

On Sunday, the Honolulu Advertiser published the editorial below from some of the entities that directly benefit from these important programs.  If you would like to express your support for these programs to the Hawaii Legislature, click here.

Natural resources permit our survival

By Herbert “Monty” Richards, Gary and Kukui Maunakea-Forth and Rick Barboza
Honolulu Advertiser, April 12, 2009

We thank The Advertiser for its editorial (April 2) on the necessity of natural resource stewardship even during fiscal crises. Generations of ranchers, farmers and land managers have always understood the close connection between a healthy natural environment, land protection, stewardship, water supply, agricultural self-sufficiency and the economy.

Business and government often measure our economy by the number of tourism and construction jobs in operation. That’s understandable, but doesn’t account for vast natural assets (water, forests, beaches, coral reefs, agricultural land) that support every person in Hawai’i — residents and visitors — who depend on services from the environment for their livelihoods, health and welfare.

The programs that are funded by the DLNR’s Natural Area Reserve Fund and the Land Conservation Fund are essential to the protection of our Hawaiian resources. They support watershed management, invasive species control, agricultural production, forestry, coastal protection and cultural preservation. Hundreds are employed and more than 1 million acres are managed, protected and cultivated for public benefit. These healthy, managed natural resources and the services they provide allow us the lifestyle we all enjoy and permit our survival in the middle of the vast Pacific.

Due to difficult times, conveyance tax revenue that supports these funds is down 50 percent. These programs will be cut by half or more even without House Bill 1741. Further reduction in the NAR Fund and Land Conservation Fund as proposed in HB 1741 would either eliminate many of these essential programs or cripple them to the point of leaving them inoperable and nonfunctioning. These programs leverage funding by at least 1:1, and in some cases as much as 1:3, with federal, county and private dollars (i.e., for every state dollar spent, three additional matching non-state dollars can be leveraged).

The NAR Fund and the Land Conservation Fund are our state’s way of supporting large-scale conservation that protects our incredible natural resources, supports sustainable land and water management, ensures high-quality jobs, and guarantees the perpetuation of essential ecosystem services worth billions of dollars. Without watershed management, critical drinking water resources will dry up or become contaminated.

Without personnel in the field controlling invasive species, pests like bee mites will infiltrate our shores — wiping out industries like our local honey/beekeeping industry, or requiring tens of millions to control and eradicate (e.g., miconia, coqui frogs). Without land protection, more agricultural, watershed, forest, coastal and culturally important lands will be converted; reducing our ability to feed ourselves and attract visitors who appreciate Hawai’i's natural beauty.

Without these programs, successes like MA’O Organic Farms might not be possible. MA’O recently purchased agricultural land using Land Conservation Funds, allowing it to expand its organic farm, and employ over two dozen high school graduates from Wai’anae and Nanakuli and pay their college tuition and stipends. As fifth-generation ranchers in North Kohala, Kahua Ranch and its neighbors in the Kohala Watershed Partnership are using their resources and support from the NAR Fund to control invasive species and protect 65,000 acres of native forests and watersheds.

With help from the NAR Fund’s Forest Stewardship Program, Hui Ku Maoli Ola will restore over 30 acres of land in Ha’iku valley. Keeping the NAR Fund percentage at 25 percent and the Land Conservation Fund percentage at 10 percent is a small investment for such large, sustainable and long-term benefits for our island communities.

Herbert “Monty” Richards of Kahua Ranch, Gary and Kukui Maunakea-Forth of MA’O Organic Farms and Rick Barboza of Hui Ku Maoli Ola wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.

Where is OHA on Mauna Kea?

Posted by Marti Townsend at Apr 04, 2009 11:35 PM |

From Marti:

Last week, the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was supposed to take a formal position on the University’s new proposed development plan for Mauna Kea.  Surprisingly, they deferred decisionmaking.  It is likely that the OHA Trustees will not be able to take up the measure until after the Board of Land and Natural Resources votes next Friday on whether to adopt the plan.

This is really unfortunate.  As the state’s advocate for the best interest of Hawaiians, OHA’s Trustees should really take a stand on the University’s plan.  Is the plan good for the sacred summit and Hawaiians or not?  If it is not, then how does it need to be improved?

With great insight and knowledge, OHA staff have detailed the numerous shortcomings of the University’s development plan and explained what improvements are needed so that the plan complies with the law and actually protects the irreplaceable natural and cultural resources on the summit, as well as the interests of Native Hawaiians.  Their review highlighted:

- The plan is not “comprehensive” as defined by the Third Circuit Ruling because it fails to address multiple land uses, such as development limits and decommissioning. It also fails to comply with DLNR requirements for management plans because it lacks details, timetables, and mitigation measures.

- The plan fails to consider the Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act and Hawai`i’s historic preservation and burial laws in not only inadequate, it is illegal.

- The plan delegates management authority over Mauna Kea’s numerous historic resources to the university, which has no experience or expertise in managing historic properties.  In fact, the University’s approach to cultural practice as outlined in the plan is “offensive.”

Click here to read OHA staff’s full review of the University’s new development plan.

On March 25th, OHA’s Committee on Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment voted to send a letter to the Land Board expressing the Trustees’ willingness to work towards enhancing the management plan. With all of this, why did the full Board of Trustees choose not to act?  Are the Trustees preparing to contradict the expertise of their staff in support of the University’s development plan?

The OHA Trustees should be defending the best interests of Hawaiians, not the University.  This includes advocating for the strongest possible protections for the public trust natural and cultural resources on the summit,access to those resources (especially for cultural and religious practice), and the collection of market-based rent on all of the leases of public lands by foreign telescope entities.  Unfortunately, some of the OHA Trustees seem unwilling to take this position.

Thus, the burden now falls to individuals to make their voice heard on the quality of the management plan before the Land Board next week.  Please attend the public hearing in Hilo on April 8 and 9th at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. If you are unable to attend, please submit written testimony — our virtual testimony table makes it easy to just click-n-send, so you have few extra moments to personalize your submission — just click here.

If you are interested, the University’s plan and the Land Board’s staff recommendation are available on line, click here.

April's Action Alert Line-Up

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Aloha mai Kakou!

Spring is here, which means the rains will be coming to an end soon and so will the 2009 Legislative Session.  In these last heated weeks of the session, the public will get one last chance to be heard on the proposals affecting our environment and culture.  At the same time, it is important not to ignore key decisions affecting our public trust resources that are being made outside the Capitol.

To help you keep track of it all, here are four pressing issues to take action on right now and help protect the things we all love about Hawaii nei.

1. Defend the NAR Fund… because Conservation Can’t Wait!


On Monday, the State Ways & Means Committee will consider a measure to take money away from the Natural Area Reserve Fund in order to balance the state budget.  For the last ten years, this fund has provided for the conservation programs that have successfully protected our native forests, supported important watersheds, and controlled invasive species – not to mention provide affordable housing and encourage local agriculture.

Cutting this fund now will short-change our children by denying them the benefit of clean water, climate change control, and healthy native ecosystems.  Plus, we all know it is simply unnecessary because the state could generate at least $50 million a year from the foreign telescopes that currently use state land on Mauna Kea for free!  If the state just renegotiated those leases to be fair (and legal), then Hawaii could weather this economic crisis without cutting programs (or jobs).

Take action now!  Tell Hawaii’s Senators: Don’t Raid, Make the Telescopes Pay.

2. Struggle to Defend Mauna Kea Culminates This Week!

This is it.  All of the hardwork to protect Mauna Kea from the pressure to build ever-larger telescopes will culminate in two hearings this week:

– On Monday, in Honolulu, the State Ways & Means Committee will decide whether to pass HB 1174 to transfer authority for Mauna Kea to the University.

– On Thursday, in Hilo, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources will decide whether to adopt the University’s latest development plan for the summit.

Though the University continues to claim it now can properly manage the summit, the details of their plan reveal this is just the same old scam to consolidate its control over the public’s sacred summit. The University’s latest’s scheme does nothing to protect Mauna Kea’s unique and endangered alpine habitat, uphold continued cultural and religious practices on this sacred summit, or control telescope development.

Add your voice to the thousands who have already spoken up in support of genuine protections for the sacred summit of Mauna Kea – just click here.

Attend the Public Hearing in Hilo on April 8th and 9th at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel (71 Banyan Drive, 96720) at 9:00 am in the Moku Ola Ballroom.

3. Industrial Aquaculture Invades the Kohala Coast

Huge, untethered, self-powered, underwater spheres crammed with thousands of fish floating off our coast.  Yikes! Sounds like a science fiction B-film, but this is exactly what is being proposed for the Kohala coast of Hawaii Island.

Hawaiian Oceanic Technology, Inc. is applying for a permit to create a new massive tuna ocean fish farm. They want to use 247 acres of our ocean to house 12 orb-like cages so they can grow tuna and export it out of Hawaii.  Their draft EIS does not answer the basic questions everyone is asking:

- How much waste will be created and how will it affect the marine environment?
- Can the cages withstand major storms?  What if one wanders away – since the cages are not tied down and are only one mile from the humpback whale sanctuary?
- What about the sharks attracted to the caged fish? Other farms just kill them.  Is that how to treat our aumakua (diety)?

Our ocean is a public trust resource and the public deserves to know what is going to happen to it before this project causes any harm.  Click here to ask Hawaiian Oceanic Technology and the approving agencies to address the public’s concerns and questions before using our waters for a project that could hurt our ocean and the wildlife in it.

4. Uphold Your Right to Go Beach – Support the Public Access Rights Bill

Even though the public’s right to access the shoreline is protected by law, the lack of enforcement has created a de facto barrier on public beach access.  S.B. 1088 is a simple bill that would help improve enforcement of beach access… if only it could get a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

Click here to urge Rep. Karamatsu to hear S.B 1088 regarding public access.

If you have a few minutes, give Rep. Karamatsu a polite phone call at 808-586-8490.

Mahalo Pumehana,
Us Guys at KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance
phone: 808-524-8220

Image of the sacred Lake Waiau in the Ice Age NARS at the summit of Mauna Kea

Sacred Lake Waiau in the Natural Area Reserve at the summit of Mauna Kea.

KAHEA: the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance is a network of thousands of diverse individuals islands-wide and around the world. Together, we work to secure the strongest possible protections for Hawaii’s most ecologically unique and culturally sacred places and resources.

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 37368
Honolulu, HI 96837
Phone: 808-524-8220

KAHEA is funded grassroots-style, and does not receive any Federal or corporate money. It is the financial support of many INDIVIDUALS, all giving what they can, that keeps the lights on and the campaigns going here at KAHEA.


Act Now to Protect Mauna Kea - Decision on April 9th!

Posted by Marti Townsend at Apr 03, 2009 08:20 PM |
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Mauna Kea needs your help!  The State Land Board is poised to adopt a plan that would allow more telescopes to be built on Mauna Kea.  Take action today and help ensure genuine protections for the imperiled natural habitats and sacred cultural sites on this temple-summit.

Take Action Now!

Click Here to Take Action!

You can help protect Mauna Kea just by clicking and sending your testimony to the Land Board! Make your voice heard!

The Land Board will decide on April 9th whether to adopt the University of Hawaii’s latest development plan for Mauna Kea.  Though the University calls it a “comprehensive management plan,” this plan does nothing to protect the unique and endangered alpine habitat of Mauna Kea, or uphold continued cultural and religious practices on this sacred summit, or control telescope development.

In fact, this plan is the University’s renewed attempt to consolidate control over the summit and hasten the construction of several new telescopes, especially the Thirty Meter Telescope. The University is using this plan as a backdoor approval process for its 2000 development plan, which the BLNR already refused to approve once, and to force the passage of H.B. 1174, which would transfer management authority for Mauna Kea to the University.

Given the University’s history of misuse and abuse on the summit, no part of this plan should not be adopted. Instead, the Land Board should follow and enforce the laws already in place that protect the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea.

Here is what you can do to help ensure genuine protections for the sacred summit are enforced:

1. Submit your testimony right now in opposition to both the plan and the bill.

It is quick and easy, just click here. Tell the State Land Board and Hawaii’s Senators that you oppose both the University’s new development plan and H.B. 1174, HD 3.

2. Attend the Land Board hearing in Hilo next week:

April 8-9, 2009
9:00 am
Hilo Hawaiian Hotel
71 Banyan Drive, Hilo, 96720

3. Take action to support House Concurrent Resolution 231.

Just click here and urge Representatives Ito and Har to hear this resolution to hold both the Land Board and the University accountable for the historic misuse of Mauna Kea lands and funds.

Mahalo nui,
Us Guys at KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance

PO Box 37368
Honolulu, Hawai'i 96837
phone: 808-524-8220

KAHEA: the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance is a network of thousands of diverse individuals islands-wide and around the world. Together, we work to secure the strongest possible protections for Hawaii’s most ecologically unique and culturally sacred places and resources.

Legislative Update

From Marti:

This is just a quick run down on the status of some of the local legislation we are watching this session.  Tomorrow is second lateral – the day when surviving bills have to be delivered to their final committee.  The next major deadline is April 9th.


SB 1088 - Seeks to improve enforcement of beach access for the public.  It successfully passed the House Water, Land, and Ocean Committee on Monday (Mahalo to Rep. Ito (D-Kaneohe) and Rep. Har (D-Kapolei)).  It is now on it’s way to the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. Karamatsu, D-Waipahu).  It needs a hearing by the first week of April.  Click here to demonstrate your support this important bill.

HB 1663/SB 709 – Both bills to protect taro from genetic modification are moving along nicely since cross over.  Tho, we are cautious to ensure that they are not amended to contradict the interests of taro farmers and consumers.  Click here to submit testimony in support of meaningful protections for our beloved Haloa. And, you can click here to read about the poundin’ good time had by all at the Taro Festival this year.

HRC 231 – This House Concurrent Resolution to uphold and enforce the laws that protect Mauna Kea was recently introduced by Rep. Hanohano (D-Puna).  This resolution outlines all that the State Land Board needs to do to fulfill its constitutional and statutory mandates to protect the conservation district of Mauna Kea.  Click here to add your support for this awesome reso.


HB 1174 - This bill seeks to give UH (the developer) management control over the conservation district of Mauna Kea. The Senate Committees on Higher Education and Water, Land passed this bill in a joint hearing, despite considerable solid testimony in opposition and only conditional testimony in support.  This bill now must be heard by the Ways and Means Committee.  Click here to take action and defend Mauna Kea.

HB 1741 – The bill to raid the Natural Area Reserve Fund has finally died!! Though we are concerned that this important fund to prevent invasive species could be raided through the budget bill.  So, stay close to hear the call to action on that front.

HB 1226 – Not only has the preemption bill died at the Capitol, it has also raised the ire of the counties who don’t appreciate some state representatives offering to just give away county authority to regulate GMO-agriculture.  Click here to read about the resolution Maui passed 9-0 against the preemption bill.

SB 1318 – This bill flipped to the good side.  The House Water, Land, and Ocean Committee deleted all the language about abolishing our coastal zone management protections and replaced with it with good language from Rep. Thielen’s pilot proposal to protect shorelines in Kailua from sea level rise with greater setbacks.

SB 1712 – The Right to Fish Bill is back in a slight muted form this session.  Unfortunately, this bill is starting to gain momentum. Stay tuned for updates on how to take action against efforts to undermine management of our fisheries and coastal areas.

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