The Mauna Kea emergency rule, restricting nighttime activity and camping on the mountain for the next 120 days was signed today by Governor David Ige. The rule, approved last Friday by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), restricts presence on the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has created a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the emergency rule. These FAQs are posted on various DLNR websites, social media sites, and will be available in a pocket guide for anyone wishing to visit Mauna Kea during the next four months.
FAQs by Hawaii DLNR Mauna Kea FAQs:
• What is the restricted area?
This is defined as any lands in the public hunting area that includes the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road and one mile on either side of the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road.
• When are you not permitted in the restricted area?
You cannot enter or remain in the restricted area during the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Exceptions are for transiting through the restricted area on the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road or while lawfully within or entering or exiting an existing observatory or a facility operated by the University of Hawaii.
• What does transiting mean?
This means driving or being a passenger in a vehicle traveling at a reasonable and prudent speed and having regard to the actual and potential hazards and conditions.
• What types of gear are restricted?
It is illegal to possess or use sleeping bags, tents, camp stoves or propane burners in the re- stricted zone.
• Is hunting illegal in the restricted area?
No, as long as it is done following all existing state laws regarding hunting on public lands. However, under previously existing rules, hunting is only allowed from one-half hour before sun- rise to one-half hour after sunset, which does not fall between the restricted hours of 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.
• Can you protest and exercise free speech on Mauna Kea during the emergency rule period?
Yes, as long as it does not otherwise violate existing laws. Protesters may not obstruct the law- ful movement of authorized vehicles and personnel on the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road and are not allowed in the restricted area during the nighttime closure hours of 10:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m., except as provided for in the rule.
• Can people engage in customary and traditional practices in the restricted area?
Yes, as long as these practices are not conducted between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Exceptions can be approved by the Chairperson of the Dept. of Land and Natural Re- sources.
• Is stargazing permitted on top of Mauna Kea?
Yes, as long as you are not in the restricted area during the hours of 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. As indicated above, remaining on the mountain during these hours is currently prohibited.
• Can Igo to the top of Mauna Kea?
Yes, either by traveling with an authorized tour company or on your own, subject to the re- strictions in the rule. Please be aware that much of the Mauna Kea Observatory Access Road is gravel with sharp corners, steep drop-offs, and fast-changing weather conditions. Four-wheel drive is recommended for travel on the road at higher elevations. You may not be in the re- stricted area during the closure hours of 10:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m. (subject to the exceptions noted above). Please check with the Office of Mauna Kea Management before starting your trip to learn about any special conditions. 808.933.0734
• Can the road be closed during additional hours?
Yes, if the University of Hawaii, Office of Mauna Kea Management deems that natural or man-made conditions or hazards pose a threat to public safety, it has the authority to impose additional road closures.