The Maunakea Visitor Information Station (VIS) will adjust its closing time from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Sunday, December 9, for an infrastructure project that will improve visitor safety and better protect natural, historic and cultural resources. Preparations will begin in December with construction slated to start in January 2019. The project is expected to take about six months.
Nighttime stargazing at the VIS will be suspended during this period, but the VIS will remain open seven days a week with the same opening time of 9 a.m. The VIS restrooms will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
VIS will continue to work with 'Imiloa Astronomy Center, County of Hawaiʻi and other partners to bring both live and remote stargazing opportunities to other locations on the island. During the project, VIS will be collecting data on how the modified hours impact visitor experiences. This data will be used to develop new, Hawaiʻi Island-oriented programs. These may include free reservation-based weekly stargazing programs specifically for island residents and educational groups, and other opportunities for visitors.
The infrastructure project includes the construction of a new paved parking lot with 42 stalls, entry and exit lanes to the parking area, a new greenhouse for propagating native plants and the removal of an existing structure, known as the Upper Longhouse.
The improvements are necessary as the VIS has experienced a significant increase in visitors due, in large part, to Saddle Road improvements that have made Maunakea much more accessible. This has resulted in vehicles parking on the shoulder of Maunakea Access Road and visitors crossing the street in the dark. By better managing vehicular and pedestrian traffic, soil erosion in sensitive areas will be reduced, and fragile natural resources will be better protected.
About The Office of Maunakea Management
The Office of Maunakea Management is charged with day-to-day management of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve as prescribed in the Master Plan. The adoption of the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents in June 2000 marked a critical milestone in the management of Maunakea.
Meetings and public hearings spanning a period of nearly two years went into the formulation of the Master Plan, which established management guidelines for the next 20 years. The Master Plan reflected the community's deeply rooted concerns over the use of Maunakea, including respect for Hawaiian cultural beliefs, protection of environmentally sensitive habitat, recreational use of the mountain, and astronomy research.
It places the focus of responsibility with the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH). The UH-Hilo Chancellor established the Office of Maunakea Management and the Board of Regents established the Maunakea Management Board in the fall of 2000. The Maunakea Management Board in turn formed Kahu Ku Mauna, a council comprised of Hawaiian cultural resource persons to serve as advisors.
To achieve harmony, balance and trust in the sustainable management and stewardship of Mauna Kea Science Reserve through community involvement and programs that protect, preserve and enhance the natural, cultural and recreational resources of Maunakea while providing a world-class center dedicated to education, research and astronomy.