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About the Refuge

Great frigatebird

Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1909 when President Theodore Roosevelt set aside the islets and reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands "as a preserve and breeding grounds for native birds." It encompasses most of the Northwestern Hawaiian Island chain of islands and atolls stretching 1,200 miles northwest of the island of Kaua‘i, except for Midway and Kure Atolls.


Described as hosting "Alaskan sized resources on a mere 245,000 acres" this Refuge provides essential breeding grounds and nesting sites for endangered, threatened, and rare species some found nowhere else on the planet. On June 15, 2006, the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge was designated as part of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. In 2010, the Monument was inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site.

Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, along with its sister archipelago refuge, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, is part of the world’s largest marine conservation area, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Monument), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Monument is protected and managed by three co-trustees — the Department of Commerce, Department of Interior, and the State of Hawai‘i joined by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.


Learn about the islands and atolls, click here.

Page Photo Credits — © Dan Clark
Last Updated: Oct 27, 2014
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