Conserving the Nature of America
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finalizes Plan to Repair and Replace Failing Seawall on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

February 1, 2019


Megan Nagel,, 808-792-9530

HONOLULU, Hawaiʻi — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finalized a plan to repair and replace damaged sections of seawall on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial, within the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The action will replace approximately 5,720 feet of seawall damaged by erosion on the southern end of Midway Atoll’s Sand Island. The Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact associated with the project are available to the public.


Originally built in 1957, the seawall protects the southern portion of Sand Island and Henderson Airfield’s runway from erosion. The airfield is an emergency landing site for transpacific commercial flights.


“The eroding and worsening condition of the seawall represents a serious risk to the future function of Henderson Airfield which serves as an emergency landing site for transpacific commercial flights.  The airport is also important to refuge and Monument access and management operations, and endangered wildlife,” said Bob Peyton, Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial Manager. “Beyond disrupting FAA and refuge operations, the damaged seawall may entrap endangered Hawaiian monk seals and threatened green sea turtles.”


The Service and Federal Aviation Administration will work together to repair and replace sections of Midway Atoll’s seawall over a 10-year period of time. The length of the proposed action allows the project leads the flexibility to repair sections of seawall that need work now and also parts of the seawall that will need repairs in the near future. To avoid impacts to breeding birds, construction and repairs would take place annually between mid-August and October when seabird populations are at their lowest. 


All public comments and information received during the public comment period have been considered in the development of the environmental assessment. The environmental assessment and associated documents are available at:


Midway Atoll is one of the most remote places in America. Culturally significant for Native Hawaiians, it has also been a place of strategic importance for communications, commercial airlines, and the military – and it has always been a home for wildlife. Midway Atoll is safeguarded and maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial.


Papāhanaumokuākea is cooperatively managed to ensure ecological integrity and achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of Northwestern Hawaiian Island ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture, and heritage resources for current and future generations. Four co-trustees - the Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, State of Hawaiʻi and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, protect this special place. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was inscribed as the first mixed (natural and cultural) UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United States in July 2010.

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