Native Hawaiians Press Land Board to Stop Haleakala Telescope

Flickr: belindah

Hawaii's Board of Land and Natural Resources heard final arguments on Friday about whether construction on a 14-story solar telescope atop Haleakala on Maui should be allowed to proceed.

The Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. is challenging a conservation district use permit that the board issued to the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy in December 2010.

Attorney David Kimo Frankel, on behalf of his client, Kilakila o Haleakala, reiterated arguments that the telescope would have major impacts on scenic views and Native Hawaiian cultural resources. Haleakala contains numerous burials and other sites considered sacred by Native Hawaiians.

He cited the university’s own environmental impact statement, as well as testimony from Haleakala National Park Service officials and others that said impacts would be significant.

The university’s EIS for the project says that the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope "would be seen as culturally insensitive and disturb traditional cultural practices," and that it would cause "major, adverse, short- and long-term, direct impacts on the traditional cultural resources" that couldn't be mitigated.

The university has stressed that it has a host of measures in place to safeguard environmental and cultural resources.

But Frankel called these a “smokescreen.”

Have feedback? Suggestions?