The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) appears open to a DXpedition to Baker Island in the Pacific, which has not been activated for 15 years. Baker and Howland Islands (KH1) is the fourth most-wanted DXCC entity, according to the Club Log DXCC Most Wanted List. On April 24, the FWS released a Draft Compatibility Determination for Amateur Radio Operation for public review and comment. The comment period ends on May 8. Public access to the Baker Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is managed through a special use permit (SUP). Baker and Howland Islands are part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (PRIMNM), created by former President George W. Bush under the authority of the Antiquities Act of 1906. The monument was expanded by President Barack Obama.
“Amateur Radio operation is an existing use at Baker Island NWR; however, it is not a common use,” the FWS said in opening the Draft Compatibility Determination for comment. “The Service last permitted an Amateur Radio operator group to access Baker Island NWR in April 2002. The SUP authorizing this use will include stipulations, conditions, and restrictions to ensure compatibility and mitigate for potential anticipated impacts to refuge resources.”
Comments may be submitted via e-mail to Monument Superintendent Laura Beauregard. Include “Baker Amateur Radio Comments” in the message subject line.
The FWS allowed that while Amateur Radio is not a wildlife-dependent public use, it does offer “some value as a source of public information about wildlife resources and to bring public attention to the Refuge,” the FWS said. Baker Island is 1,830 nautical miles southwest of Honolulu — an 8-day voyage.
“Deployment and breakdown of the camp and radio equipment usually takes 2 days on each end of the trip,” the Draft Compatibility Determination estimates. “Selection of a landing site will depend on conditions at sea, and conditions at the individual landing sites at Baker Island. Access to the island would be gained by small boats capable of beach landings, as there is no moorage for larger vessels.”
Visitors to Baker Island would be accompanied by an FWS representative, who would approve the landing zone.
“Complete avoidance of seabird colonies will minimize nest disturbance and prevent burrow nest cave-ins,” the document adds. “Activities on Baker Island will always attract the land crabs that inhabit this location. All efforts must be taken to avoid inadvertently feeding or entrapping these animals.”
The FWS would also have to approve QSL cards to ensure that they include “an informative or educational statement about the Refuge.” The FWS called QSLs “a valuable outreach tool.”
“By allowing Amateur Radio operators to visit the PRIMNM refuges, the refuges benefit through the ability of staff to visit remote island sites to monitor wildlife populations and habitats, detect invasive species introductions, and perform management actions that would otherwise require the Service to charter a vessel,” the FWS, said, pointing out the mutual advantage to the Service of accompanying a DXpedition to the island. The K1B Baker Island DXpedition logged 96,000 contacts. — Thanks to The Daily DX, FWS