(CNN)Hawaii's governor has issued an emergency proclamation as protests continue over the construction of a major new telescope.
Protesters arrested at Hawaii's Mauna Kea for blocking construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope
Demonstrators have been dug in for days. Police arrested 33 protesters on Wednesday, but they were almost immediately released, according to Dan Dennison, a spokesman for Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Gov. David Ige said he issued the proclamation on Wednesday to "protect the health, safety, and welfare" of the people on Hawaii's Big Island and across the state.
The emergency proclamation gives law enforcement increased flexibility and authority to close more areas and restrict access on Mauna Kea, Ige's office said. It will also allow law enforcement to improve its management of the site and surrounding areas and ensure public safety, the governor's office said.
"Our top priority is the safety and security of our communities and the TMT construction teams. This is a long-term process and we are committed to enforcing the law and seeing this project through," Ige said.
Demonstrators at the access road to Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island have been in place since Monday, the day when construction was slated to kick off on the Thirty-Meter Telescope at top of the mountain.
Some native Hawaiians see the peak as a sacred site. Revered ancestors are buried there, and it's been seen as a place where humans can enter heaven. Astronomers, on the hand, value the site as among the best in the world for capturing a clear glimpse of the origins of the universe.
Dennison said law enforcement have been in dialogue with the protesters to navigate the standoff.