//Hearing Update 12/1

Hearing Update 12/1

After taking a recess during Thanksgiving week, the contested case hearings resumed in Hilo with a new witness taking the stand.

Day 10 of the hearing completed cross-examination of expert witness Wally Ishibashi, with University of Hawaii-Manoa botany professor Clifford Smith taking the stand in the afternoon.

Smith, who has Bachelor, Master and PhD degrees in botany, was there to explain that a botanical survey of the TMT project site conducted in 2012 found no endangered or threatened species of flora. No plant species that are state or federally listed as threatened, endangered or candidates for listing, nor any rare native Hawaiian plant species, were observed. The plant community at the project site is described as alpine stone desert with a naturally low abundance of plants.

Smith explained during his testimony that because of the cold temperatures, along with little rainfall during parts of the year, plant life is minimal in the area. Winds can also reach 100 mph, causing it to scrape off any vegetation situated on rock surfaces.

At the Maunakea summit near the 13,000-foot level, a separate botanical survey found in low abundance one species of algae, no hornworts or liverworts. It also found in low quantities 12 species of moss, possibly 25 species of lichen, one fern and five flowering plants. None of the species were considered endangered.

Cross-examination of Smith was surprisingly brisk and concluded today, with testimony by retired Judge Walter Heen and hydrologist Tom Nance scheduled for tomorrow at the Grand Naniloa Hotel.