These weren’t the words expected by the questioner in my response to what I thought about my first trip into the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (now the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.) I think she was expecting words like: spectacular, pristine, resource rich, special, abundant, etc. Yes, it’s all those descriptors, too; and for me, therefore, “different.” While I was Chair at DLNR, we created the Refuge rules to ensure their conservation and natural character for present and future generations.
This started a process where several others followed with similar protective measures. President Bush declared it a Marine National Monument and UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site. Some ask why we imposed such stringent limitations on use in this area. For me, it ended up to be pretty simple; it is the responsibility we share to future generations, to allow them to see what it looks like at a place in the world where you don’t take something.