In the lead up to the BLNR meeting the Office of Mauna Kea management released some of the ranger’s and MKVIS staff reports. These document the day to day happenings at the MKVIS and the summit over the last three months since the protests began.
I knew it to be bad, I had heard about a number of the specific events detailed in these reports. I really did not have a full picture of the occurances, something that these reports make very clear.
The reports detail repeated vandalism, some petty thefts, continued harassment of staff and visitors, and repeated and illegal blocking of the road.
Many have declared these reports to be outright lies, claiming that these things never happened. I know better. I know the people who wrote these reports personally. I have breakfast with them routinely in the Hale Pohaku dining room and have listened to them relate these same occurrences. Often the words they used were a little less diplomatic than these written formal reports, the product of frustration and anger. Everything in these reports rings true, down to specific events that were described to me first hand.
As we are all aware, the TMT protests are having direct consequences for everyone who goes to the mountain. Regular mountain users and tourists alike are dealing these consequences. The summit road closed to the public for a second week, the MKVIS also closed, even before these closures the protests had curtailed many activities.
Go the the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station on the weekends nearest new Moon and you will find telescopes. While the MKVIS telescopes get put away at 10pm there are ‘scopes that are operating late into the night, often still there when dawn colors the sky. These telescopes belong to local amateur astronomers who bring them here to enjoy perfect Mauna Kea skies.
I suppose the addition is not such a bad idea, the road is a little safer.
Mauna Kea Support Services is overseeing the addition of guardrails on quite a few of the more dangerous places on the summit road. This includes the lower side of each of the hairpin turns for the switchbacks. Notable curves are getting the same treatment.
MKSS had made a number of safety improvements to the mountain facilities over the last few months, part of a concerted effort. New speed bumps at the visitor center, guardrails, and plans for new signage along the road.
Visitor and observatory traffic on the mountain is increasing, so is the attention from state officials. With the new comprehensive management plan in place, and groundbreaking for TMT not far off, now is a good time for it.