Science and Projects

Science Project Approval

In keeping with the University's management mandate and requiremets in the 2009 Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP), CMS reviews and approve scientific activities on Maunakea. Activities are evaluated and categorized as original or minimal / minor / major projects according to the 2000 Master Plan; reviewed pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules for the Conservation District (HAR 13-5) and summarized in the Land Use (HAR 20-26) section of this website; and reviewed persuant to University of Hawaiʻi Administrative Rules for Maunakea lands. These reviews also help ensure opportunities for community input occur early in the process.

Scientific activities that occur on University-managed lands, involve fieldwork, the collection of specimens or samples, have the potential to impact resources or visitors, or may impact the cultural landscape, activities, and historic properties, must be reviewed and approved by CMS. This same screening process is applied to astronomy observatory and support activities (outside or on the exterior of the existing built structures).

The summary below applies only to "minimal impact" projects, generally speaking those that do not require excavation and whose impacts to the surroundings are minimal. The "typical conditions" listed below also apply to even routine activities that do not require explicit approval as the activity is still considered to be a minimal impact. If you are uncertain as to the scope of your project, please contact CMS first. Interest parties should recognize that not all proposals are approved, but that the priorities and processes of the 2009 Comprehensive Management Plan are implemented.

Request & Review Process for "minimal impact" projects

  1. Carefully review and complete the CMS Project Proposal (MS Word).
  2. Review the CMS compliance matrix (MS Excel). Identify which of the 2009 Comprehensive Management Plan adaptive management goals your project addresses and how.
  3. Submit both project proposal and compliance matrix to CMS ( for review and revision in Word / Excel format. Do not submit a PDF or paper copy. Most projects require multiple iterations to finalize and submission does not mean the project is authorized to proceed.
  4. CMS will submit the proposal to the entities listed below. The applicant will be notified with each step. Revisions may be required after each step.
    • Kahu Kū Mauna (non-public meetings) - for consultation
    • Maunakea Management Board - for review and recommendation to OCCL. Applicants may be asked to attend the Management Board meeting to respond to questions.
    • Department of Land & Natural Resource, Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands - for permitting.
  5. Some activities may require additional permits or approvals by other governing bodies. Examples of activities requiring additional approvals include but are not limited to: research spanning University-managed and State Forest Reserve or Natural Area Reserve lands, working with threatened or endangered species, invertebrate or wildlife capturing or handling, activities requiring State of Hawaiʻi Historic Preservation Division approval, or County permits. Applicants should discuss with CMS whether such permits must be required. The governing authority will ultimately determine if additional permits or approvals are required. The applicant is responsible for obtaining any appropriate external approvals and providing written documentation to CMS.
  6. After receiving Maunakea Management Board approval to proceed to OCCL, and copies of any additional permits required of other agencies are provided to CMS; CMS issues a letter authorizing the project.
  7. Once all pre-conditions are fulfilled, the applicant shall notify CMS of the intent to start work (see form below).
  8. CMS will respond with a "Notice to Proceed". This acknowledges the "Start of Work" and is the final step to initiating any project. >"The activity is not authorized until this letter is received, and this letter must be on-hand with all participants when present on University-managed lands.

This process typically requires 3-6 months once a proposal has been submitted for review (after completing step # 3 above), although additional time is occasionally needed.

Common proposal revision requests include

Researchers examine the soil strata at the Maunakea summit

  • Writing for a non-technical, community audience.
  • Identify any activity or equipment that emits electromagnetic radiation (light, radio, micro, or other wave energy) that might affect visible, submillimeter, or radio astronomy. This information is reviewed by the Maunakea astronomy community.
  • If the proposed activities are redundant or duplicative in-full or in-part with past or ongoing efforts; plainly written, non-technical justification must be included as to why the work is needed and its benefits. [See the 'Resources for Researchers' page for more information].
  • Identify benefits or application to the local, island of Hawaiʻi, community.
  • Work with CMS on the development of suitable mitigation measures.
  • Clearly state quantities and location(s) of equipment and people involved.
  • Provide timeframe and duration of study.