Protesters join Maui fight

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Thirty Meter Telescope opponents, who continue to maintain a small camp near the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, joined protesters on Maui as they attempted to block construction of a solar telescope.

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Thirty Meter Telescope opponents, who continue to maintain a small camp near the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, joined protesters on Maui as they attempted to block construction of a solar telescope.

Lanakila Mangauil of Honokaa, who has spearheaded the TMT protests, was among the eight people arrested early Thursday for blocking a road leading to the top of Haleakala, the Associated Press reported. He was released on $100 bail but couldn’t be reached for comment.

Protests against the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope started following successful efforts by TMT opponents to block construction workers during the past several months. On Maui, protesters used trees, rocks and glass in an attempt to block workers, who eventually reached the solar telescope, which is about 80 percent complete.

Protesters on both islands say they are protecting sacred mountains.

Joseph Henderson, a TMT protester who has been camped on Mauna Kea, also was among those arrested Thursday. He is from Maui.

TMT protest leader Kahookahi Kanuha of Kailua-Kona, who participated in the Maui protest, estimated about 10 people from the Big Island were there.

“It’s the same issue,” he said. “It’s a sacred mountain.”

“Mauna Kea is not a Hawaii Island issue,” Kanuha added. “Haleakala is not a Maui island issue.

“These are Hawaiian issues; these are human rights issues.”

On Mauna Kea, Kanuha said TMT protesters remain at their protest site 24 hours a day despite emergency rules the state adopted specifically banning camping on the mountain.

Those rules, which went into effect July 14, were last enforced July 31 when state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawaii County police officers arrested seven protesters early in the morning. Kanuha said they haven’t received any more warnings but expect officers to return.

In addition to protesting TMT, which will be the largest and most powerful telescope on Mauna Kea, he said they practice Hawaiian cultural traditions and protocol.

The emergency rules are being challenged in 3rd Circuit Court.

A DLNR spokesman declined to comment on why the agency hasn’t enforced the rules again. He said discussing the current approach could reveal potential actions.

Meanwhile, Hawaii County provided the Pasadena, Calif.-based TMT International Observatory with a one-year extension for its grubbing and grading permit, which was set to expire Aug. 30.

Sandra Dawson, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit organization, said she couldn’t comment on when construction might resume. She said TMT is not facing a time crunch to continue work before wintry weather returns to the mountain, though weather delays are more likely during the fall and winter months.

The $1.4 billion telescope will take about a decade to build and is expected to be able to see to the edge of the viewable universe. The telescope will be 180 feet tall but mostly visible from the Kohala side of the island.

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Additionally, Dawson said TMT recently allocated an additional $125,000 to the Pauahi Foundation and $375,000 to the Hawaii Community Foundation for scholarships and education on the Big Island.

The observatory is providing $1 million a year to support those efforts, and provides grants to those organizations in two installments annually.

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