Saturday, April 26, 2008

Monumental monument management plan, made manageable

If there were ever a way to scare people away from a document, how about putting it in four volumes and letting it run to 1,200 pages?

That's the new Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Draft Management Plan.

(Photo: IKONOS satellite image of Midway Atoll. NOAA photo.)

Something that long might work for Harry Potter, but certainly not for a planning document.

Even the executive summary is long. It runs five pages, and it's more a summary of the table of contents than a summary of what the plan actually says.

This is not to argue that it could have been done shorter—the task was enormous.

But there are ways to make sense of this thing—which even the Governor said she wouldn't read—if you want to trot out to your local library to pore over it, or wanted to download it (from

First of all, understand that it's not really a plan. It is no less than 24 different plans, and you could simply read the background information and the plans in which you're specifically interested, and you'd perhaps save yourself 1,000 or more pages.

Now you're down to just a fair-sized novel.

Here, then, is a reading guide.

Most folks ought to read the nearly 80 pages of introduction, because this gives you the essence of why we as a society are going through this exercise. One point is the immensity of the refuge—there's a nice map in which the monument is overlaid on the continental United States, and here you learn that if you could drive its length, the monument would be the equivalent of a passage from Maryland to Minnesota.

There's some information on the volcanic origin of the archipelago, of water temperatures and currents, and a nice, concise natural history of each of the 10 major reefs, islands or atolls that make up the emerged portion of the region.

For school kids, the introduction could serve as the basis for countless school papers, with a compilation of the human history, natural history, ecosystem threats and other issues.

After the introduction are a couple of dozen pages on the remarkably complex management framework that oversees the monument, led by a state agency (DLNR) and two federal agencies with often competing missions—the Fish and Wildlife Service (think conservation) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (in the Department of Commerce).

What they've agreed on in the draft is a mission to “Carry out seamless integrated management to achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of NWHI ecosystems, Native Hawaiian traditional and customary cultural and religious practices, and heritage resources for current and future generations.”

NWHI is, of course, the geographical name of the region, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The draft management plan then breaks down its mission into 22 separate action plans. We won't discuss any detail here, but we'll list their names:

Marine Conservation Science Action Plan, Native Hawaiian Culture and History Action Plan, Historic Resources Action Pan, Maritime Heritage Action Plan;

Threatened and Endangered Species Action Plan, Migratory Birds Action Plan, Habitat Management and Conservation Action Plan;

Marine Debris Action Plan, Alien Species Action Plan, Maritime Transportation and Aviation Action Plan, Emergency Response and Natural Resource Damage Assessment Action Plan;

Permitting Action Plan, Enforcement Action Plan, Midway Atoll Visitor Services Action Plan (which is different from the Midway Atoll Visitor Services Plan, also included in this draft);

Agency Coordination Action Plan, Constituency Building and Outreach Action Plan, Native Hawaiian Community Involvement Action Plan, Ocean Ecosystems Literacy Action Plan;

Central Operations Action Plan, Information Management Action Plan, Coordinated Field Operations Action Plan, Evaluation Action Plan.

The second volume of the four-volume draft monument management plan is an environmental assessment. Because it must act as a stand-alone document, it contains much of the same information in Volume I, but it looks at the data in different ways, considers consequences of and alternatives to many of the actions that could take place in the monument. The volume also contains a cultural impact assessment.

Volume III has a number of features, including the draft visitor services plan for Midway Atoll, including both the World War II historical side and the natural history side. Plus some other appendices, including the Presidential proclamation that formed the monument and the early regulations enacted to manage it.

Also, here is a list of the things people have to go through when working or visiting the most protected islands of the monument, to prevent their carrying pests or weeds there. Like wearing brand-new, never-worn clothing that's been frozen for at least two days—to kill anything that might be on or in it.

Volume IV consists, in its entirety, of the 24th plan in the draft monument management plan. It's the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge Conceptual Site Plan, and—if you're still paying attention 1,100 pages into the series—it has the best photographs in the entire draft plan.

Midway is important, of course, because it's the only part of the monument that average folks would ever get to see, since most of the refuge is limited to scientific and some Hawaiian cultural activities.

Public meetings on the draft plan are scheduled around the state and in Washington DC. The Hawai'i meetings are all from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Here's the schedule:

O'ahu: Waianae Parks and Recreation Complex, June 9, 2008
Maui: Kahului / Maui Arts & Cultural Center, June 12, 2008
Lana'i: Lana'i High & Elementary School, June 13, 2008
Moloka'i: Kaunakakai / Kulana 'Oiwi Halau, June 16, 2008
Oahu: He'eia Visitors Hall, June 19, 2008
Hawai'i Island: Kona / King Kamehameha Hotel, June 17, 2008
Hawai'i Island: Hilo / Mokupapapa Discovery Center, June 18, 2008
Kauai: Lihu'e / Hilton Kauai Beach Resort, June 23, 2008
O'ahu: Honolulu / Japanese Cultural Center, June 24, 2008

The Washington meeting is slated from 1 to 4 p.m. June 11 at the Auditorium in the Main Department of the Interior Building.

The best resource for information may be, but there's other information at these websites:

© 2008 Jan W. TenBruggencate