Prutehi Litekyan urges Bordallo to take a stand

PROTEST: Franceska De Oro, center, Moneka De Oro, third from left, and Moneka Flores, at right, were among more than two dozen people involved in a wave at the ITC intersection in Tamuning in August. The wave was organized by the group Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian, to oppose the construction of the live-fire training range at Northwest Field on Andersen Air Force Base. Post file photo

With the construction of the live-fire training range complex imminent, Guam's Historic Preservation Office should talk directly with the military leadership on Guam about requesting the project be paused, a national advisory council said.

"Given that the start of the construction on the (firing range) is imminent, the (Advisory Council on Historic Preservation) recommends that you direct your objection to (the military command in Guam) with sufficient information to assess the effects of the project on historic properties," wrote Reid J. Nelson, director of the Office of Federal Agency Programs, on Oct. 13.

Nelson, on behalf of the council, wrote to Lynda Aguon, state historic preservation officer for the government of Guam.

Based in Washington, D.C., the council advises President Donald Trump and Congress on national historic preservation policy.

The council also reminded Aguon that the Training Range Review and Analysis, issued in 2015, was developed over a three-year period in consultation with her office.

Also, in 2015, the advisory council consulted with the military leadership on Guam, the Marine Corps Pacific, the National Park Service, the Guam Preservation Trust, Aguon's office and other consulting parties to develop and execute a mitigation plan for the firing range project, the council wrote to Aguon.

"This plan outlined measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse effects to historic properties and impacts to culturally important natural resources that may result from the construction and operation of the (firing range)," the council stated.

$78M construction contract

Black Construction Corp. has been awarded a $78 million contract from the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command to build the range on Andersen Air Force Base's now-unused Northwest Field, above the Ritidian Point Wildlife Refuge.

Construction is slated to begin in February. However, the plan, which was announced six years ago, recently raised renewed objections from former Ritidian landowners, and members of the community concerned about the impact on cultural sites in the wildlife refuge and damage to the limestone forest on northwest field.

In her letter to the advisory council on Sept. 26, Aguon asked for a pause in construction saying the effect of the firing range on historical sites in Ritidian has not been fully evaluated. She cited a report from state archeologist John Mark Joseph who concluded that the Defense Department's original survey methodologies were flawed, and didn't meet the criteria established by the ACHP.

‘Guam's dwindling cultural and historic resources’

"Let us … do our utmost and very best to protect and preserve Guam's dwindling cultural and historic resources – resources that are essentially the basis of our cultural heritage," Aguon wrote.

However, in his response letter, Nelson also wrote that the firing range plan "was carried out in accordance with the 2011 Programmatic Agreement," which details the overall plans for the military buildup.

The relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam is part of an international agreement between the United States and Japan more than a decade ago, and which was revised in 2010.

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