Washington, DC – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will travel with First Lady Laura Bush and Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton to Midway Atoll and Honolulu, Hawaii, where they will visit the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument later this week in an effort to increase public awareness of one of this Nation’s most exceptional marine ecosystems. President Bush created the National Monument in June.
“President Bush showed significant leadership and vision in creating the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument in an area relatively untouched by human activities,” Kempthorne said. “I am honored to be visiting the National Monument with Mrs. Bush, who, like the President, is committed to natural resource protection and a lover of the outdoors.”
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, encompassing 140,000 square miles of U.S. waters, is the largest single conservation area in our Nation’s history and the largest protected marine area in the world, eclipsing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. This area contains 2.7 million acres of coral reef, 14 million nesting seabirds, and 250 fish species; in total it includes about 7000 species, a quarter of which exist no where else on Earth. The area includes the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, both managed by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The National Monument is jointly managed by three co-trustees -- the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the State of Hawaii.