Summer/Fall 2013 • Vol. XIX, No. 75
U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
FUNDAMENTALLY TRANSFORMS MIDWAY ATOLL
The International Midway Memorial Foundation has been informed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has fundamentally transformed Midway Atoll from an eco-tourism and historical destination to solely a wildlife refuge. The atoll was once managed by Midway Phoenix Corporation (MPC) which provided complete maintenance of the islands, administrated the needs of the airport and conducted a program for eco-tourism and historical visitation, including renovating the sleeping quarters and building a superb restaurant. All of the foregoing was done at no expense to the taxpayers. In May 2002, MPC departed from Midway Island primarily because of a disagreement over the revenues from the sale of aviation fuel that USFWS felt should go to them. When the MPC left the Atoll, the cost of running the Atoll went to the taxpayers: six million dollars a year for fewer services than were provided by MPC.
A YouTube video produced by Mike Daak, detailing the transformation of Midway, can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1KGjS89D7k. Mr. Daak is a former contract worker on Midway.
Since 2002, USFWS has methodically transformed the atoll to conform with its designation as a Wildlife Refuge with little regard for its historical designation that took place in 2000 when the atoll and its waters were designated a National Memorial by Congress, nor to its having been a destination for eco-tourism, which ended this year.
The USFWS has torn down historic structures including the four famed cable buildings used by the Pacific Commercial Cable Company in the early 1900’s when it laid the trans-Pacific telegraph cable from Hawaii to Midway and on to Wake Island. Apparently, proper federal procedure for the destruction of the cable buildings was not followed, as no federal or public hearings were ever conducted. I contacted Barry W. Stieglitz, USFWS Supervisor of the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex on October 30 seeking information about this, and received a reply on the same day that he or his staff would get back to me in a few days. As of November 10, I have not received any follow-up.
Capt. Jim Noone, USNR (Ret), IMMF’s legal counsel, is researching the federal requirements that should be met before historic buildings protected by congressional designation can be destroyed. Then, if the afore-mentioned circumstances are accurate, and proper procedures were not followed, on behalf of the Foundation and taxpayers in general, I will notify Congress and request that the USFWS’ actions be investigated.
In addition to the foregoing, IMMF will request proof of how much federal funding, if any, is being allocated to the preservation and maintenance of the historic structures on Midway, or if all current funding is being used for the demolition of these federally protected structures. Consultation with “organizations with an interest in Midway Atoll…including the [IMMF” regarding the management of the Atoll was called for in HR 3423 (the Appropriations bill signed into law in 1999 by President Clinton designating Midway a National Memorial), and thus far, the IMMF has not been consulted in any management decisions that may have resulted in the destruction of buildings on Midway. Progress with this inquiry will be reported in subsequent newsletters.
I have been asked to give a lecture on the Battle of Midway to students at the Sarasota Military Academy in early 2014. I look forward to this opportunity to share the story of the Battle, and its significance as an historical event, with this young audience.
Chris and I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.
JAMES M. D'ANGELO
M. CHRISTINE SIMS
1039 RAINBOW COURT
BRADENTON, FL 34212