Demonstrators are gathered at the base of Hawaii's tallest mountain to protest the construction of a giant telescope on land that some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
Officials have closed a road leading to the summit of Mauna Kea, the site of an embattled giant telescope project.
The road was officially closed Monday, but protesters who say they're protecting Mauna Kea from desecration had already blocked it.
A group of elders tied together at the entrance to the road are expected to be arrested. After speaking with police, protest leaders say the group will step aside, but the elders will remain.
Hundreds gathered to protest the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, hoping to stop construction convoys from delivering equipment to the top.
Another group of telescope foes have attached themselves to a cattle grate on the ground. Protesters are singing and chanting.
Scientists hope building a massive telescope on a world-renowned location for astronomy will help answer fundamental questions about the universe.
Groups of activists sang and prayed at the base of the mountain on Sunday afternoon.
They declared the area, which is well off the highway at the intersection of the mountain's access road, a place of refuge and safety.
Officials say anyone breaking the law will be prosecuted. Protesters who blocked the roadway during previous attempts to begin construction have been arrested.
Scientists hope the massive telescope they planned for the site - a world-renowned location for astronomy - will help them peer back to the time just after the Big Bang and answer fundamental questions about the universe.
But some Native Hawaiians consider the land holy, as a realm of gods and a place of worship.
Scientists selected Mauna Kea in 2009 after a five-year, worldwide search for the ideal site.
Protests disrupted a groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony at the site in 2014. After that, the demonstrations intensified.
Construction stopped in April 2015 after protesters were arrested for blocking the work. A second attempt to restart construction a few months later ended with more arrests and crews pulling back.
But Hawaii's Supreme Court has ruled the construction is legal, permits are in place, and the state has given the company behind the telescope a green light to resume its efforts.
The company is made up of a group of universities in California and Canada, with partners from China, India and Japan.
According to the University of Hawaii, ancient Hawaiians considered the location kapu, or forbidden.
Only the highest-ranking chiefs and priests were allowed to make the long trek to Mauna Kea's summit above the clouds.
Today, the university leases the land at the summit from the state for existing telescopes and observatories on the summit.
A road built for telescope access decades ago is used by thousands of tourists and locals each year, including Native Hawaiians who go there to pray.
Supporters of the $1.4 billion giant telescope say the cutting-edge instrument will not only make important scientific discoveries but bring educational and economic opportunities to Hawaii.
The telescope's primary mirror would measure 98 feet (30 meters) in diameter. It would be three times as wide as the world's largest existing visible-light telescope, with nine times more area.
Gov. David Ige said unarmed National Guard units will be used to transport personnel and supplies and enforce road closures, but they will not be used in a law enforcement capacity during planned protests.