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2003

Shortly after a federal judge rules that NASA's Environmental Assessment for the Outrigger Telescopes Project is inadequate, NASA announces that it will prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Nov. 5, 2003
Telescopes’ impact to be studied

In a decision praised by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, NASA announced yesterday it will conduct a detailed environmental impact study of the Mauna Kea summit, where it wants to build what could be one of the strongest telescopes in the world.
(read article)


2004

Following a long and involved contested case hearing, Hawaiians and environmental organizations challenge the decision by the Board of Land and Natural Resources to grant the permit for the Outrigger Telescopes Project.

Honolulu Advertiser, Dec. 2, 2004
Critics sue after panel OKs NASA project

HILO, Hawai'i — Critics of NASA's proposed "outrigger" telescopes are appealing a decision by the state land board to allow the $50 million project at the summit of Mauna Kea.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources in October completed a contested-case hearing in connection with the project, voting to approve a state conditional use permit for construction of up to six smaller telescopes around the W.M. Keck Observatory. The observatory already houses the largest and most powerful optical telescopes in the world.

Opponents of the project filed a lawsuit in Hilo Circuit Court Tuesday, alleging the project would exceed the limit of 13 telescopes allowed on the mountain in the management plan approved by the land board. The summit already has 13 observatories and more major telescopes than any other peak.

The suit was filed on behalf of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, the Sierra Club's Hawai'i Chapter and a Native Hawaiian with genealogical ties to Mauna Kea.
(read article)


2005

NASA spends most of 2004 conducting scoping meetings and hearings on the draft EIS, releasing its final EIS on the Outrigger Telescopes Project in February 2005.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Feb. 20, 2005
Little extra impact seen from adding telescopes
NASA's report admits Mauna Kea already has been damaged

Past, present and "reasonably foreseeable" future astronomical activities at the summit of Mauna Kea have had a substantial and adverse cumulative impact on the mountain's cultural resources, according to an environmental impact statement.

But the addition of six planned "outrigger" telescopes to the existing observatories on the Big Island mountain would have a small incremental impact, according to the final EIS prepared by NASA. The space agency announced completion of the environmental statement in a legal advertisement Friday.
(read article)


NASA's Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Outrigger Telescopes Project states in its Executive Summary:

"From a cumulative perspective, the impact of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future activities on cultural and biological resources is substantial, adverse and significant....In general, the Outrigger Telescopes Project would add a small incremental impact."
download EIS for the Outrigger Telescopes Project


The University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy continues its 30-year effort to procure even bigger and more expensive telescopes for the summit of Mauna Kea.

Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Super scope may go to Mauna Kea

A Canadian engineering firm is helping design a $750 million telescope that could end up on Mauna Kea, although a decision about where to put it is at least two years away.

The Thirty-Meter Telescope — three times bigger than the world's largest optical and infrared telescopes, the twin Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea — won't be operational for another decade, but fundraising and lobbying efforts by those who want to be picked as its ultimate home are under way. Hawai'i's tallest mountain is a contender, but so are sites in Mexico and Chile.
(read article)


2006

In a surprising announcement, NASA withdraws funding for the Outrigger Telescopes Project but the W. M. Keck Observatory vows to find alternative funding.

Honolulu Advertiser, February 10, 2006
NASA budget cut imperils Mauna Kea project

HILO, Hawai'i — Budget cuts at NASA may have killed the controversial "Outrigger" telescopes project planned for Mauna Kea, an unexpected setback for Big Island astronomy that was greeted with relief by opponents of the project.

The federal government has already spent $15 million to $20 million on the Outrigger project, which would put four to six smaller telescopes around the existing twin 33-foot telescopes of the W.M. Keck Observatory, enhancing the deep-space images captured by Keck.

It would cost another $20 million to $25 million to build the Outrigger telescopes, but the draft 2007 NASA budget includes no money to complete the effort, said Frederic Chaffee, director of the Keck observatory.

Chaffee said he doesn't know yet whether new funding can be found or if the project will ever be built.
(read article)


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 9, 2006
Budget ax looms over telescopes

HILO » Funding for the Keck Outrigger Telescope project on Mauna Kea has been eliminated from NASA's draft 2007 budget, possibly killing the $50 million, four-telescope project, University of Hawaii astronomy head Rolf Kudritzki confirmed.

The proposed cut is part of $2 billion in funding for numerous projects which would be shifted in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget to support the space shuttle program, Kudritzki said. He called the proposal "catastrophic."

Keck Observatory head Fred Chaffee called the $2 billion cut "alarming," saying some programs being cut are much farther along than the Outriggers. "It is a sad and disappointing year for NASA science," he said.
(read article)


A week after the NASA announcement, the spiritual altar (called an ahu lele) at the summit of Mauna Kea is desecrated.

The following news story shows the ahu lele in a scene from the documentary Mauna Kea - Temple Under Siege before it was destroyed.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 17, 2006
Vandals strike Hawaiian altar at Mauna Kea summit

HILO » A Hawaiian altar at the summit of Mauna Kea used for spiritual purposes since 1997 was knocked down Tuesday by unknown vandals, according to a Big Island activist.

The altar also had been used as a resting place for personal items of two soldiers from Hawaii killed in Iraq.

"It's customary practice to place things of the deceased in high places," said Kealoha Pisciotta, who has criticized observatory expansion on Mauna Kea.

Breaking into tears, she added, "They lost their sons. It's obviously hurtful and disrespectful."
(read article)


A week later, a group of people involved in the protection of Mauna Kea rebuilt the ahu lele.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Feb. 23, 2006
Mauna Kea climbers fight cold to fix altar

With a snowstorm stinging their faces, 17 people climbed to the summit of Mauna Kea late Tuesday afternoon to repair a native Hawaiian altar that was desecrated earlier this month by unknown vandals.

With winds from the west reaching 35 mph and temperatures dropping below zero, the group labored in the oxygen-thin air to replace the rock base and the wooden pole frame over the ahu lele built in 1997 at the summit of the 13,796-foot mountain sacred to Hawaiians and prized by astronomers.

"This was definitely a desecration," said Alii Aimoku Alii Sir Paul Neves of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, which built the ahu.

"It was planned. They had to take a tool, a machete or a hacksaw, and climb to the summit in bitter cold February weather," said Neves, adding, "It wasn't far from a parking lot, and they had to know when people (workers who attend the site's 13 telescopes) were around."

"It was done very maliciously and this is a crime scene, and someone put thought and effort into this desecration," Neves said.
(read article)


In June, NASA officially withdraws funding for the Outrigger Telescopes Project.

Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, June 25, 2006
Telescope plan loses funding
By Kevin Dayton

HILO, Hawai'i — After spending $15 million to $20 million, a decision by NASA to yank further funding for the proposed Outrigger telescopes on Mauna Kea makes it a "long shot" that the project will ever be completed, scientists said.

It would cost $25 million to $50 million to complete the project, which would put four to six smaller telescopes around the existing twin 33-foot telescopes of the W.M. Keck Observatory, said Frederic Chaffee, observatory director.

He said astronomers and their supporters are trying to persuade NASA or private sources to provide financing, but Chaffee and others said it will be difficult to replace the lost NASA funding.(read article)

'UNDER SIEGE'

PBS Hawai'i's Pacific Showcase will air a documentary on issues surrounding Mauna Kea, called "Mauna Kea — Temple Under Siege," at 8 p.m. July 13. The documentary was produced by Big Island-based filmmakers Puhipau and Joan Lander of Na Maka o ka 'Aina.


The struggle to stop further astronomy development on Hawai'i's mountains has extended to the island of Maui. The National Science Foundation's new telescope atop the Maui peak Haleakala has met with community opposition.

Maui News, Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Hawaiians continue to protest solar telescope

PAUKUKALO – Hawaiian voices were unanimous Monday night in opposing the National Science Foundation’s plan for an enormous telescope atop Haleakala, but it turns out that even the most united effort might not be able to stop the project.

“Normally, I say ’aloha,’ but tonight I think it died,” said Tim Bailey, whose job is caring for the resources at Haleakala National Park.

Just minutes earlier, the audience at the Paukukalo Community Center had learned that all its testimony protesting the proposed 14-story-tall telescope at the summit of the mountain might not make a difference in the end. National Science Foundation attorney Charisse Carney-Nunes acknowledged that while “consultation” with Native Hawaiians was required by federal law, “concurrence” – agreement – was not.

That didn’t sit well with the 75 or so residents, most of them Hawaiians, who were hoping that a mountain of objections could send the telescope proponents packing.

“I’ve been consulting, I know the game,” said a disgusted Kalei Kaeo, a Maui Community College instructor in Hawaiian studies. “We come, we show, we say a few words and they do what they want to do anyway. That’s consulting.”
(read article)


Hilo Circuit Court rules on behalf of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, the Sierra Club's Hawai'i Chapter and Clarence Kukauakahi Ching challenging the Board of Land and Natural Resources permit to build the Keck Outrigger Telescopes Project

Environment News Service
Hawaii Judge Reverses Permit for More Mauna Kea Telescopes

HILO, Hawaii, August 7, 2006 (ENS) - A Hawaii state court has reversed a conservation district use permit granted by a state agency that would have allowed the construction of up to six more telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the Pacific. The ruling puts a roadblock in the path of NASA's $50 million outrigger telescope project planned for the W.M. Keck observatory.

In a decision issued August 3, Judge Glenn Hara reversed the permit granted to the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to build the telescopes. Judge Hara decided that administrative rules governing astronomy facilities require a "comprehensive management plan" for the Mauna Kea summit, which is a conservation district.

The Mauna Kea summit is a conservation district because it is a fragile and unique alpine ecosystem that serves as a major source of water for the entire island of Hawaii.

Development in conservation districts is permitted only if it can be done in a way that does not degrade the public resource.
(read article)


Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - 1:41 PM HAST Tuesday
Ruling could block Mauna Kea projects

A judge in Hilo has reversed a permit to build six new telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea -- a decision that could block future NASA projects on the mountain.

The revoked permit was for a $50 million project that NASA already had cancelled because of federal budget cuts. Circuit Judge Glenn Hara ruled last week that the project shouldn't be built anyway until a "comprehensive management plan" was in place that took environmental concerns of the entire summit area into consideration-- such as the impact building would have on endangered indigenous insects and Native Hawaiian rights.

"The resource that needs to be conserved, protected and preserved is the summit area of Mauna Kea, not just the area of the project," Hara wrote.
(read article)


Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, June 5, 2006
Silverswords being coaxed back from near oblivion
By Christie Wilson

Thousands of silversword seedlings have been planted by hand on the volcano slopes by Ane Bakutis and others.

Silverswords are making a comeback on the slopes of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea after being reduced to near extinction by grazing animals.

Last winter marked a final full round of plantings of the Mauna Loa or Ka'u silversword, with 1,958 seedlings placed at three sites close to the Mauna Loa Trail by volunteers and Volcano Charter School students led by rare-plant specialist Ane Bakutis.

Since 2000, nearly 13,340 plants propagated at the University of Hawai'i's Volcano Rare Plant Facility have been put into the ground at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, according to Rhonda Loh, acting chief of the park's Natural Resources Division.
(read article)



Mauna Kea decision halts telescope development

A HUGE WIN FOR MAUNA KEA and welcomed victory for the people, who for 30 years have said, "Enough is Enough!" NO MORE DEVELOPMENT ON THE SACRED SUMMIT!

From the Appellants:
"We are very pleased to let you know about Judge Glenn Hara's decision to void the BLNR decision regarding the Keck Outrigger Telescopes, and to affirm the law requiring that a BLNR approved comprehensive management plan be developed for the summit of Mauna Kea. The community has been heard!"
-- Deborah Ward

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