Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge

Howland Island National Wildlife Refuge consists of the 455 acre (1.84 km²) island and the surrounding 32,074 acres (130 km²) of submerged land. The island is now a National Wildlife Refuge managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an insular area under the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The atoll has no economic activity and is perhaps best known as the island Amelia Earhart never reached. Airstrips built in the late 1930s to accommodate her planned stopover were never used, subsequently damaged, not maintained and gradually disappeared. There are no harbors or docks. The reefs may pose a hazard. There is one boat landing area along the middle of the sandy beach on the west coast along with a crumbling day beacon. Defense is the responsibility of the United States and the island is visited every two years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There are no natural fresh water resources. The landscape features scattered grasses along with prostrate vines and low-growing shrubs. A 1942 eyewitness description mentioned a low grove of dead and decaying kou trees on a very shallow hill at the island’s center, but 58 years later (2000) a visitor accompanying a scientific expedition reported seeing a flat bulldozed plain of coral sand, without a single tree and some traces of building ruins. Howland is primarily a nesting, roosting and foraging habitat for seabirds, shorebirds and marine wildlife. The U.S. claims an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles (370 km) and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (22 km).

Since the island is uninhabited, no time zone is specified but it lies within a nautical time zone which is 12 hours behind UTC.

Leave a Comment