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Amateur Radio Operations to Begin Again on Midway Atoll

01/27/2009

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced on Monday, January 26 that they would once again allow Amateur Radio operators the opportunity to operate from Midway Atoll. This the first time that USFWS has allowed amateurs to operate from the wildlife refuge since 2002. The USFWS started a program earlier this month to encourage visitors to experience Midway's wildlife, history and culture, as well as non-wildlife-dependent activities -- including Amateur Radio.

To ensure the safety of the wildlife on the Refuge, the USFWS said that Amateur Radio operations will be permitted for two weeks only, from October 5-19, 2009. "Radio operation will be allowed only within a designated area on the north side of Sand Island and the use of portable generators will not be permitted," said Midway Atoll Refuge Manager Matt D. Brown. "There is 120 V power available at the operation site. Any modifications to the island power grid/infrastructure must be approved in advance and be paid for entirely by the radio operators." All participants will be required to attend a refuge orientation shortly after arrival that is designed to enhance visitor safety, wildlife protection and overall enjoyment of the wildlife refuge.

"Although determined to be a wildlife-compatible activity," Brown said, "this [Amateur Radio] opportunity is being conducted on a trial basis." Brown has the authority to discontinue the activity at any time, based on wildlife protection and conservation goals. For more information, please contact Brown via e-mail or by phone at 808-954-4818.

Travel arrangements to and from Midway are the responsibility of the individual or group. Since there are minimal facilities on the atoll, Brown said that lodging availability is very limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. "All Amateur Radio operators on Midway must secure lodging reservations, as camping is not permitted," Brown said. To make reservations, please contact Chugach Industries' Site Administrator Darlene Holst via e-mail or by phone at 808-954-4801.

Midway is located in the North Pacific Ocean (near the northwestern end of the Hawaiian archipelago) -- approximately 1250 miles northwest of Honolulu -- about one-third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo. At less than 150 miles east of the International Dateline, Midway Atoll is truly "midway" around the world from the Greenwich meridian. The atoll is an unincorporated territory of the United States and is the only atoll/island in the Hawaiian archipelago not part of the State of Hawaii. Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is owned and administered by the USFWS on behalf of the American people and has international significance for both its historic and natural resources.

In 1988, Midway became a National Wildlife Refuge, at the time subject to the primary jurisdiction of the Navy. In 1993, the Navy decided to close the Naval Air Facility after more than 50 years of continuous operation. On May 20, 1996, custody and accountability for Midway Atoll transferred from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Interior. President Clinton signed Executive Order 13022 on October 31, 1996, effectively superseding earlier orders assignment responsibility for Midway to the Navy. A new code of regulations governing activities at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge was published in the Federal Register on March 10, 1998.

When Midway became a national wildlife refuge, it joined a network of more than 500 separate units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, encompassing nearly 93 million acres, throughout all 50 states and several territories and possessions. Refuges represent the only Federal lands set aside and managed principally for the conservation of fish and wildlife.



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