HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.R. NO.

99

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE RESOLUTION

 

 

requesting that the department of land and natural resources provide additional protections to the mauna kea summit due to its ENVIRONMENTAL significance and cultural importance to the native hawaiian people.

 

 

 


     WHEREAS, Native Hawaiians consider Mauna Kea to be an ancestor, a living family member, born of Wākea (Sky Father) and Papa (Earth Mother), progenitors of the Native Hawaiian people and the place where Sky and Earth separated to form the Great-Expanse-of-Space and the Heavenly Realms; and

 

     WHEREAS, Mauna Kea is a wao akua (the place where gods reside or home of nā akua), the realm of ancestral akua (gods, goddesses, and deities or nā ‘aumakua), where akua take earthly form as the pu‘u (hill or peak), the waters of Lake Waiau, and other significant landscape features, and is a wahi pana (storied place); and

 

     WHEREAS, many Native Hawaiian traditional and customary religious practitioners consider the summit a place dedicated to the Supreme Being and perform temple ceremonies including those that honor the time of the Polohiwa (Solstice and Equinox) throughout the year; and

 

     WHEREAS, according to the Native Hawaiian Environment by Kumu Hula Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele, "Mauna Kea is also the piko, or navel, of the island, and this is another reason the mountain and the area around it is considered sacred" by Native Hawaiians; and

 

     WHEREAS, the large number of shrines on and near the summit of Mauna Kea indicate that the summit was and continues to be used as a place of worship for the snow goddess Poli‘ahu and other akua and ‘aumakua such as Kūkahau‘ula, Līlīnoe, and Waiau; and

     WHEREAS, traditional and customary Native Hawaiian practices are derived from these beliefs; and

 

     WHEREAS, approximately 11,000 acres of the Mauna Kea summit, an area spanning from the 6,000 feet elevation (Saddle Road) to 13,796 feet elevation above sea level at the summit, is zoned as conservation lands; and

 

     WHEREAS, within the Mauna Kea Conservation District live a number of rare, threatened, or endangered plants, animals, and arthropods, found nowhere else on the planet; and

 

     WHEREAS, the native bird species that reside within the Conservation District include the Palila (Loxioides bailleui), ‘Amakihi (Hemignathus virens), ‘Apapane (Himatione sanguinea), ‘Elepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis), ‘Akiapola‘au (Hemignathus munroi), ‘I‘iwi (Vestiaria coccinea), and U‘au (Pterodroma sandwichensis) and of these species only the Palila, ‘Amakihi, ‘Apapane and ‘I‘iwi have been observed at Halepōhaku in recent times; and

 

     WHEREAS, the māmane-naio forest on the southwestern, eastern, and northern slopes of Mauna Kea houses the entire world population of the Palila (Loxioides bailleui) bird, the iconic Hawaiian honeycreeper endemic to the island of Hawai‘i and specifically Mauna Kea and the last finch-billed honeycreeper in the main islands; and

 

WHEREAS, the Mauna Kea ‘Āhinahina (the Silver Sword), ‘Io (Hawaiian Hawk), Pueo (Owl), Palila (Honey Creeper), ‘Ōpe‘ape‘a (Bat), and U‘au (Pterodroma sandwichensis) are all rare, threatened, or endangered officially and listed as such by the federal government; and

WHEREAS, the Māmane woodlands are home to a wide variety of native arthropods (insects, spiders), including two new moth species belonging to the family Noctuidae, given the names A. helela and A. kuamauna, which are highly unusual species that rely on plants as their sole food source, since the family Noctuidae is mostly made up of predators and scavengers, the Wēkiu being one of the more famous of these species; and

 

WHEREAS, the Wēkiu bug (Nysius wekiuicola), is a tiny (4.5-5.5 mm) flightless scavenger endemic to the northern plateau area (11,483-13,795 feet) of Mauna Kea and has gained the attention and interest of scientists, conservationists, and the public because of its very restricted range and peculiar life history; and

 

WHEREAS, the alpine shrublands of Mauna Kea are inhabited mainly by low-lying shrubby species such as Pūkiawe (Leptecophylla tameiameiae), ‘Ōhelo (Vaccinium reticulatum), and Mauna Kea dubautia (Dubautia arborea) and scattered grasses such as Hawaiian bentgrass (Agrostis sandwicensis) and Pili uka (Trisetum glomeratum); and

 

WHEREAS, the alpine shrublands of Mauna Kea are also inhabited by native ferns such as Douglas' bladderfern (Cystopteris douglasii), Kalamoho (Pellaea ternifolia), ‘Olali‘i (Asplenium trichomanes), and ‘Iwa‘iwa (bird’s nest ferns, Asplenium adiantum-nigrum); and

 

WHEREAS, historically common but now rare species found on the alpine shrublands of Mauna Kea include ‘Āhinahina (Argyroxiphium sandwicense ssp. sandwicense), lava dubautia (Dubautia ciliolate ssp. ciliolata), ‘Ōhelopapa (Hawaiian strawberry, Fragraria chiloensis), ‘Ena‘ena (Pseudognaphalium sandwicensium), Nohoanu (Geranium cuneatum ssp. hololeucum), and alpine tetramolopium (Tetramolopium humile ssp. humile var. humile); and

WHEREAS, of the 21 rare, threatened, or endangered moss and lichen species found on the summit of Mauna Kea, at least half of the lichen species are endemic and two of which, Pseudephebepubescens and Umbilicaria pacifica, are limited to Mauna Kea alone and are new to science; and

 

WHEREAS, Mauna Kea sits atop five aquifer systems that provide water throughout Hawai‘i Island and there has been no comprehensive hydrological study of the summit to date; and

 

WHEREAS, the Mauna Kea summit area is comprised of Hawaiian Kingdom Crown and Government lands also known as Ceded Lands, which are now part of the public land trust and subject to the public trust doctrine set forth in Article XI, Section 1 of the Hawaii Constitution, which holds public land use above that of private development; and

 

WHEREAS, Native Hawaiians have unrelinquished and undivided ownership interest in the summit of Mauna Kea and have additional special customary and traditional rights to practice on and access the summit; and

 

WHEREAS, Article XII, section 7 of the Hawaii Constitution gives the State a duty to "protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes" by the Hawaiian people; and

 

WHEREAS, new development, construction, and other use of ground-disturbing machines may harm sacred sites and impede Native Hawaiian rights to access the Mauna Kea summit for traditional, customary, and subsistence purposes; and

 

WHEREAS, section 13-5-30(c)(4), Hawaii Administrative Rules, prohibits a proposed land use in the conservation district that will cause a substantial adverse impact to existing natural and cultural resources especially in the 525 acres of the "Astronomy Precinct" located on the summit of Mauna Kea; and

WHEREAS, the State has created a management framework that protects conservation land against further degradation regardless if the lands have already been adversely affected in the past pursuant to administrative rules, but that has not protected the summit of Mauna Kea from the threat of future adverse impacts consequent to new development; and

 

WHEREAS, any future adverse impacts consequent to new development on the Mauna Kea summit will put these rare and endangered plants, animals, and arthropods, fragile ecological environments, and sacred sites on Mauna Kea at risk; and

 

WHEREAS, destruction of specific and subtle features of the terrestrial environment found on the Mauna Kea summit may lead to reduced populations of unique, rare, or endangered organisms; and

 

WHEREAS, there is a high risk of invasive plants and animals migrating to the summit and surrounding areas if there is new development, which would endanger endemic organisms; and

 

     WHEREAS, continued research leading to a detailed understanding of these life forms is necessary for establishing conservation parameters; now, therefore,

 

     BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirtieth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2019, that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is requested to provide additional protections to the Mauna Kea summit from 6,000 feet (Saddle Road) to 13,796 feet above sea level due to its environmental significance and cultural importance to the Native Hawaiian people; and

 

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Land and Natural Resources is requested to prohibit new development on the Mauna Kea summit because such development would adversely affect the fragile cultural and natural resources of the summit of Mauna Kea and would violate the State's constitutional obligation to protect the public trust, natural resources, and Native Hawaiian customary and traditional rights; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, the Director of the Office of Mauna Kea Management, University of Hawai‘i President, University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents, Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, and Chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

 

 

 

 

OFFERED BY:

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Report Title: 

Mauna Kea Summit; DLNR; Conservation