From August 1996 to May 2002, the cost of operating Midway as an eco-tourist friendly Atoll to the U.S. taxpayers was zero. Instead, the revenues came from the private sector, namely the Midway Phoenix Corporation (MPC). This corporation invested over 15 million dollars in developing the infrastructure of the Midway Atoll over that six year period. Last year (2001), the MPC finally made a profit for two months in a row. Seeing this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) changed the rules of operating Midway, thereby preventing MPC from making any future profits. This series of events led the MPC to terminate their cooperative agreement with the USFWS on May 1, 2002, after it had become clear that a reasonable agreement could not be reached between the two parties. Immediately following the departure of MPC, the cost to taxpayers for operating Midway skyrocketed to $4,000,000 annually.
The fact is that Midway was operated in the black by MPC for two months in 2001 --- until that is, USWFS changed the rules of operation. This information leads one to the conclude that the Midway Islands can be open to the public at no taxpayers expense and operate in the black, IF REASONABLE RULES OF OPERATION ARE CREATED T0 ENSURE THE FINANCIAL VITALITY OF OPERATING MIDWAY ATOLL. These rules could easily co-exist and uphold the integrity of the Atoll as a Wildlife Refuge and National Memorial.
Administration of Midway solely by the USFWS would only lead to escalating costs to taxpayers and eventual closure of the islands. Case in point: USFWS has announced that the service is preparing to close Midway on December 31, 2002 for lack of federal funds. In the meantime, pending bids by private contractors to operate Midway, including by MPC, have been placed in abeyance by USFWS.
It should be kept in mind that the USFWS always desired to have the Atoll used solely as a wildlife refuge. For this reason the agency opposed the International Midway Memorial Foundation's (IMMF) efforts to enact legislation to designate the Atoll as a National Memorial. Despite this, and through the efforts of the Foundation, former President Clinton eventually signed the bill declaring the Midway Islands a National Memorial in 1999. This bill requires that USFWS provide public access to Midway. The designation also directly conflicts with the USFWS long held desire that the Atoll be used solely as a wildlife refuge. It has long been apparent that USFWS has no sincere interest in keeping the Midway Atoll open to the public, so it comes as no surprise that the agency plans to close the atoll at the end of December.
By making it impossible for the private sector to make a profit, the USFWS on Midway now depends solely on federal funds. With such funds not forthcoming, the USFWS hopes that they have finally found one way to thwart the intent of Congress and close the Midway Atoll forever. The IMMF has a meeting on December 9, 2002 with Assistant Secretary of Interior, Judge Craig Manson, to discuss this matter. STAY TUNED!!
Natalie L. Cosans, an eight grade student at Saint Jane de Chantal School in Montgomery County, Maryalnd, is the winner of the 2002 Battle of Midway Essay Contest sponsored by the International Midway Memorial Foundation.
In addition to a plaque, she will be presented with a $500 college grant, and the National Midway Memorial Coin. Also, her essay will be published on the Foundation's webpage (WWW.IMMF-MIDWAY.COM).
Chris and I wish all members a wonderful and healthy Christmas season and a happy New Year.
We, as the crew of this Big Flat Boat,
Will each do our "best" as long as she floats.
We have well earned the title of which now we can boast,
As "GALLOPING GHOST OF THE OAHU COAST".