UH Board of Regents Approves Thirty Meter Telescope Project on Mauna Kea

Media Release:

At a special meeting held today, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents (BOR) voted to approve the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project on Mauna Kea with the recommended conditions of the Mauna Kea Management Board (MKMB). TMT is expected to be the world’s most advanced and capable astronomical observatory.

Previously approved by the Mauna Kea Management Board, UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng and UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, and with the Final Environmental Impact Statement formally accepted by Governor Linda Lingle, the project now goes to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for a conservation district use permit.

“The Thirty Meter Telescope will take us on an exciting journey of astronomical discovery, and the benefits that will flow from the project will go far beyond scientific results,” said Greenwood. “University of Hawai‘i scientists will be full participants in all aspects of this TMT journey, while the capital investment and jobs created by the project will boost the state’s economy and provide for local educational and workforce development programs. I know that the university’s important responsibility of ensuring good stewardship of this special site for future generations has been of utmost priority throughout the process, and it will continue to be our focus as we work closely with the community and all stakeholders involved with the management of Mauna Kea.”

“I was very proud to recommend approval of the TMT to President Greenwood and the Board of Regents today,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng. “Before making this recommendation, UH Hilo, our Office of Mauna Kea Management, and the community-based Mauna Kea Management Board worked very hard in a public process to review this project and its potential impacts. TMT officials have truly listened to the public discussions and extensive input from all segments of the community, and I’m confident TMT will live up to its commitments to protect the mountain’s natural and cultural resources and to promote education on the island of Hawai‘i.”

The TMT project is an international partnership among the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the University of California, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan joined TMT as a Collaborating Institution in 2008, and the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences joined TMT as an Observer in 2009. Most recently, India announced its decision last week to join the project as an Observer.

Dr. Henry Yang, chancellor of UC Santa Barbara and chair of the TMT Board of Directors, and Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, president of Caltech, have been the key principals involved in developing relationships between TMT and Hawai‘i. They’ve made many trips to Hawai‘i and have held talk story sessions with numerous individuals, including local schools, labor unions, Native Hawaiian groups and local officials. Their trips resulted in the development of close community relationships from which they learned of the community’s concerns and interests.

“We believe this partnership will benefit the Big Island and Hawai‘i in so many ways, with jobs, the economy, workforce development, education, the environment, culture, and of course, science,” said Yang. “The world-class stature of astronomical education and research of the University of Hawai‘i on all its campuses statewide will benefit, and discoveries made by this telescope will benefit not only the international science community, but all of humankind.”

The TMT project was the first project to undergo the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan’s project review process in its entirety. The Master Plan is the policy governing the management of the university’s management areas on Mauna Kea. The first step required classifying TMT a major project, followed by the design review process, and finally the project review process. All steps involved public input and review by the MKMB, which voted to recommend approval of the TMT project with conditions to the UH Hilo chancellor, UH president and UH BOR.

Hawaii County Parks and Recreation Department Threatens Skydivers With Being Arrested

Well I’m a bit bummed!  I was invited to go tandem skydiving with Skydive Hawaii on the Kona side of the island on Friday but it now looks like I won’t be going due to some tight restrictions and a threat of arrest!

I received the following in an email today from the owners of Skydive Hawaii:

…we’re being shut down for tandems and it  looks like sport skydivers will be arrested. It doesn’t seem that the City will allow us to tandem, as there is not any insurance which we can name them as additional insured.  I have told the County Parks Director that all the skydivers have 3rd party liability insurance through their membership in USPA (United States Parachute Association), but it now does not meet their requirements.

Even though DLNR says the skydivers are free to land their parachutes on the beach next to the Old Kona Airport Park, County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Robert Fitzgerald, has threatened skydivers with arrest if they then attempt to walk onto the Old Kona Airport Park for egress from the beach. He likened me to a drug dealer trying to find a place to operate.  I thought that the skydivers on the Big Island would be able to enjoy one of their favorite sports on their own island, as they invited me to come over to provide air support which would allow the to use the DZ (Drop Zone) which they have used for some 30 years.

We did fly the flag today we intended to fly over for the 4th.  I have attached a couple of photos.  We’ll have to take you up for another skydive another time another place it seems.  Everyone who has jumped with us in the last month from the Big Island has said that they have friends on Hawaii who would love to skydive, but can’t make the trip. Please extend my sincere apologies to all those who read your blog and had interest in skydiving.

*UPDATE* the following email was sent to Mr. Fitzgerald as well as the Mayor’s office from the owner of the company.

Aloha Mr Fitzgerald,

I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you last Friday.  During this conversation you likened my legal profession to that of a drug dealer and further threatened to arrest any skydivers leaving from property on which we can lawfully land their parachutes.  Would you please provide me the authority under which you can both threatened to and have citizens arrested for simply walking on public property?

Blue skies,

Frank Hinshaw

Skydive Kona Corp

Russians Win The 9th Annual MATE International ROV Competition

The winning team from Institute for Marine Technology Problems of Vladivostok Russia looks on

Last week saw was the 9th Annual MATE International ROV competition at UH Hilo.

Here are the results:

In the Explorer (advanced level) class the 1st place winner was Institute for Marine Technology Problems of Vladivostok, Russia; 2nd place went to Long Beach City College of Long Beach, Calif.; and 3rd place went to the Marine Institute and Faculty of Engineering of Memorial University of St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. In the Ranger class (intermediate level), 1st place was won by First Flight High School of Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina; 2nd place went to Clarenville High School of Clarenville, Newfoundland, Canada; and 3rd place was won by Aptos High School of Aptos, Calif.

A couple of Hawaii teams won some prizes too. The Hilo High School team won the “Biggest Bang for the Buck” prize in the Ranger category, which means that they spent the least amount of money on a vehicle that performed well. The Highlands Intermediate School of Pearl City won the “Aloha Team Spirit” award for having the best overall team spirit. And finally, Erica Sampaga of Hilo School won one of three Ranger class “Engineering MVP” prizes, which as you might guess are given to students that exhibit outstanding engineering skills.