The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
March 1, 2007

Mrs. Bush's Remarks to the Press at Midway Atoll
Eastern Island
Midway Atoll

11:42 A.M. (Local)

MRS. BUSH: Well, it's so impressive, the amount of wildlife. We're looking over here, I hope you all got some film footage of it, of the short-tailed albatross, the only one, a solitary bird that's here. He's been here about five years. He's 20 years old. They know because he was banded in Japan on the island where he was. Of course, they are hoping to attract some young short-tailed albatross. That's why the decoys are here also, so there will be a mating pair here.

Mrs. Laura Bush tags an albatross chick during a visit to Midway Atoll Thursday, March 1, 2007. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is pictured with Mrs. Bush. President Bush designated the Northwest Hawaiian Islands National Monument on June 15, 2006, and is the single largest conservation area in U.S. history and the largest protected marine area in the world.  White House photo by Shealah CraigheadBut I think what you're shocked at is the plastic that's -- even though you know, you've heard before that there's all this plastic on the ground, and then you see it, and all of the invasive plants like this yellow blooming plant right here, Verbesina, that's an invasive plant that's here.

So the goal, of course, eventually would be to restore these islands, restore the habitat that's here, be able to slowly remove the invasives, and, of course, pick up the plastic, and hopefully people everywhere in the world will do a better job of recycling plastic so it doesn't end up here, or all the other places it ends up all the way around the way.

Q I was going to say, when you see it in person, it really brings home how even though these are such remote islands, we are all sort of connected.

MRS. BUSH: That's right, we're so much more connected than we realize, and you can tell when we're here, so far away from any big mainland, either in Asia or the United States or Canada, and still to see all this plastic.

Q Any surprises so far?

MRS. BUSH: Well, it's been great. I loved having the chance to see the short-trailed albatross, an endangered bird, and the chance to see it here. And of course, we'll be watching the news, and hope that we hear that another one has landed here at some point so there can be a mating pair.

END 11:44 A.M. (Local)

Laura Bush visits Midway Atoll, part of the Hawaiian archipelago, Thursday, March 1. 2007. The Northwest Hawaiian Islands consist of 10 islands and atolls stretched over 1,400 miles, the distance from Chicago to Miami. Around the islands and atolls are more than 4,500 square miles of coral reef which are home to 7,000 marine species, a quarter of which are found nowhere else in the world. President Bush designated the islands as a national monument June 15, 2006. It is the single largest conservation area created in U.S. history and the largest protected marine area in the world. White House photo by Shealah Craighead
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