Aloha everyone. Welcome to the People’s Hearing on Hunting. I am Wayne Blyth, chairman of Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group, the hosts this evening.
I would like to welcome our special guests: Representatives Jerry Chang and Clift Tsuji.
I would also extend a special thanks to Ken Fujiyama and the Naniloa Volcanoes Resorts for donating the use this facility.
For those of you not familiar with the Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group (or MKRUG), I will give a little background. MKRUG was informally organized in 2009 as a means of uniting various users of public lands, to serve as a clearing house of actual and potential conflicts between recreational user activities, and to identify interests that all have in common. MKRUG works to promote the right of access to and responsible use of public lands. MKRUG has the following committees: Fishing committee-Bob Duerr, Hunting committee-Matt Hoeflinger, Hiking committee-Nani Pogline, Bicycling committee-Chris Seymour, OHV (off highway vehicle) committee-Dennis Vierra, and Equestrian committee-Pat Reppun. Member organizations include: Big Island Gun dogs, Hawaii Hunting Association, Pig Hunters of Hawaii, Rock Island Riders and Big Island Mountain Bike Association.
We are hosting the “People’s Hearing” as a means of insuring that the people’s voice is heard by our Big Island legislators who will be considering very powerful bills affecting management of our public lands.
In recent years people have seen an erosion of access and use of public lands. Specifically hunters have seen the eradication of game animals from Mauna Kea and recently an apparent all out war against the wild pua’a (pig). There seems to be a constant stream of ‘environmental preservation’ initiatives being proposed by all levels of government. These initiatives seem to have one thing in common; loss of public access rights through land closure, fencing, and wild game eradication.
The Hawaii State Legislature is presently considering many bills relating to ‘environmental protection’ that are of concern to the people. The legislative process as it is practiced today denies access to participation by most of Hawaii’s people due to time, technology, financial or geographic barriers. There is a growing distrust of government agencies and elected representatives in the management of public lands. It seems that our government agencies and elected representatives have forgotten that the State is the steward of the lands, not their owner. These lands are owned by the public. The public needs to participate in decisions affecting the management of their lands. The people need a hearing.
MKRUG invited all ten of our Big Island legislative delegation to hear your concerns this evening. You may understand that listening to a bunch of hunters gripe is probably not at the topthe list of things they would like to do with their time off. But, only three out of ten bothered to respond to our invitation. I must commend Representatives Clift Tsuji and Jerry Chang for attending this evening and Representative Denny Coffman for agreeing to meet with us at a later date.
I have to wonder why the other seven did not even bother to say they couldn’t make it. Elected officials are of course elected by the voters. Is it possible that they might consider that hunters and their friends and families are not a significant voting block? If that is true, only you can change that perception. For your convenience, Pat Pacheco has voter registration materials available for your use.
Thank you all for being here and showing your concern as a citizen of Hawaii.