Massive National Monument Created in Hawaii

President George W. Bush has dubbed Hawaii’s Northwestern Islands a National Monument, a move that creates the planet’s largest marine reserve. At 139,000 square miles, the ecosystem is nearly as large as California and is home to sharks, whales, coral reefs and endangered Hawaiian monk seals, as well as a host of other marine life. The declaration bars commercial activities in the area.

A new National Monument in Hawaii will provide invaluable protection to sea life, including this green sea turtle photographed off the U.S. archipelago.© Ryan McVay/Getty/Photodisc

“The marine ecosystem around Hawaii’s Northwestern Islands is one of the most biologically diverse ocean areas in the United States, truly a national treasure on par with Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon,” says Roger Rufe, president of the advocacy group Ocean Conservancy. “Our oceans are a public trust, and President Bush today has secured that public trust for future generations,” adds Ellen Athas, ecosystems protection director with the conservancy.

The islands are also being considered for designation as a United Nations World Heritage Site. Other U.S. national monuments include Devil’s Tower, Mount St. Helens and George Washington’s birthplace.


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