SAIPAN — The Indigenous Affairs Office of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will conduct a public forum on Oct. 21 and 23 at the Rota mayor's office from 9-11 a.m., and at the Sinapalo Youth Center from 6-8 p.m., to present and explain the National Park Service options for historical sites on Rota.

The goal is to hear Rota residents' thoughts and comments about the proposals, said IAO resident executive Roman Tudela Jr.

He said not everybody on Rota was able to join the virtual public hearing conducted by the NPS several weeks ago.

He added that Rota community members must be consulted and heard because they will be affected by the NPS proposals.

Tudela said IAO program manager Cris Ogo, who is from Rota, will discuss the different concepts of establishing a national park on the island.

The NPS said it has completed a preliminary study on the national significance of historical sites on Rota to determine if they are suitable and feasible to be included in the National Park System.

The project was initiated in 2015 following the enactment of U.S. Public Law 113-291, which directs the NPS to conduct a special resource study of the prehistoric, historic and limestone forest sites on Rota.

The NPS introduced the study in 2017 during six meetings on Rota, Guam and Saipan, and received written comments.

On Wednesday, Ogo said the IAO held a virtual meeting with officials of the Department of Public Affairs, the Department of Lands and Natural Resources, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, cultural practitioners and representatives of different community groups such as the NMI Descent Corp. to discuss the NPS proposals.

For more information, visit https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=65104.

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