Videos show people skiing, snowboarding on dry slopes of Maunakea

The Office of Maunakea Management says it is “very disturbed” by videos showing three people skiing and snowboarding on the dry slopes of Pu‘u Poliahu.

“First and foremost, this act was disrespectful to Native Hawaiians and to everyone who considers the mountain sacred,” said Stephanie Nagata, director of OMKM under the University of Hawaii at Hilo, in a statement. “One of the first acts by Kahu Ku Mauna in 2001 shortly after its creation was to stop vehicular access traffic on the pu‘u because it is a sacred site.”

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She told the Tribune-Herald that skiing or snowboarding on dry land also could damage wekiu bug habitat.

The videos were posted by the professional skiers and snowboarders on social media, but they appear to have been removed.

A sign identifies the pu‘u as a sacred site on Maunakea.

The OMKM rangers keep a lookout for bad behavior on the mountain. However, the agency doesn’t have the authority yet to impose fines or penalties.

The adoption of administrative rules is supposed to change that. A second round of public hearings on the proposals are expected this spring, the university said.

Under the proposed rules, snowboarding and skiing with proper equipment would be allowed when snow is present. But doing the same on dry land would be prohibited, Nagata said.

“When you’re doing this on the actual surface of the ground, you are basically creating tracks,” she said. “You are creating tracks, you are scraping the surface of the ground.”

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OMKM said in its release that the activity took place on the south side of the pu‘u, hidden from view from rangers.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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