Current Status of Palmyra:
On November, 20, 2000, the Conservancy purchased Palmyra Atoll and took possession of the emergent lands and created a 680-acre private nature reserve. On January 18, 2001, The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) created a new national wildlife refuge surrounding Palmyra Atoll that captured 515,232 acres of submerged lands and marines waters, including 16,094 acres of coral reefs. As of this date, none of the 680 acres of emergent lands owned by the Conservancy are part of the refuge. However, the approved refuge boundaries would allow inclusion of all of the emergent lands, tidal lands, submerged lands (including coral reefs) and marine waters seaward 12 nautical miles from the shoreline of the atoll. Currently, the Conservancy and the US Fish and Wildlife are negotiating the sale and purchase of approximately 451 acres of the emergent land (outer islands). Ultimately, the Conservancy would like to retain in private ownership, (not included in the refuge) the Cooper-Menge island complex, approximately 230 acres.
The USFWS has already completed its Environmental Assessment for the refuge and has officially approved the following five compatible activities on refuge lands and waters:
Environmental Education and Interpretation; includes kayakers, hikers and photographers
Wildlife Observation through Recreational Diving and Snorkeling; up to 12 divers and snorkelers per day
Recreational fishing for Bonefish; catch and release and barbless hooks only.
Recreational Blue-Water Sport Fishing; catch and release
Recreational Sailing and Motorized Boats; two boats allowed per week by permit only and no services provided
USFWS has also endorsed the concept of allowing refuge lands and waters to be used for appropriate scientific research and agrees that this is compatible with the purpose of the establishment of Palmyra refuge.
Since May of 2000, TNC has operated a remote field camp for up to 16 guests and donors who wish to visit the atoll for a four to six day trip. The purpose of these trips has been to raise money for Palmyra and to increase awareness of the Conservancy's conservation efforts there. All of these guests and donors have been transported from Honolulu to Palmyra in a Gulfstream-1, turbo-jet prop airplane on a four-hour, one way excursion. The tent camp encompasses 14 two-person sleeping units, a large galley/kitchen/dining area, four hot showers, a small laundry facility, restrooms, and a 950 gallon/day water maker, all powered by a 32 kw generator (with a 20kw back-up generator).
Guided hikes, diving and snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing activities are available for our guests. Guests are allowed to explore the Cooper-Menge Island complex on their own. The most popular fishing activity is saltwater flyfishing for bonefish, and the results to date have been excellent. Diving has been better than anticipated due to the high number of interactions with large animals such as manta rays, sea turtles, sharks, and napoleon wrasse.