The government of Guam and the military have up to 45 days to resolve GovGuam's concerns that ancestral remains lie on land that will be developed as part of the facilities to support the relocation of nearly 5,000 Marines to Guam.
The governor's office on Thursday afternoon announced that Guam Historic Preservation Officer Patrick Lujan has called for a "temporary halt" on further construction of the live-fire training range complex on Andersen Air Force Base as well as a portion of the site of the proposed Marine Corps base on Guam.
GovGuam sought for a pause "based on new and substantial archaeological findings observed during the grading and clearing of four firing ranges at Northwest Field," the governor's press release states.
The firing range complex is part of the multibillion-dollar U.S.-Japan agreement to move almost 5,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
The pause is "to permit additional archaeological review," according to the governor's office.
The press release contends the discovery of ancestral remains at certain sites is the reason for the request for a pause on further construction.
Lujan "is calling for greater, more comprehensive archaeological surveys to be completed before work can begin on the final phase of the project," the governor's press release states.
"His assertion is based on new archeological findings – ancestral remains unanticipated by the original review process," according to the governor's office release.
The government of Guam wrote a letter to Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander of Joint Region Marianas, stating, “The numerous findings of historical sites and human remains found at both (military construction project P-715 known distance ranges) and (the Marine Corps base site) can only confirm the deficiencies of the (training range review and analysis).
During the 45-day consultation period between the Navy and the SHPO, the Navy will not be allowed to contract any work on the fifth firing range, according to the governor's office.
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero stated, “The buildup needs to be done at a pace that benefits our people, and we must be our own advocates.”
In response to a request for comment, the military's Joint Region Marianas stated it "is committed to upholding the requirements outlined in the (programmatic agreement) to protect and preserve cultural resources within lands under the Navy’s care."
“We thank the Guam SHPO for his professionalism and willingness to engage in open dialogue with the DOD through the Stipulation XIII process,” said environmental director Al Borja with the Marine Corps.
“The supplemental efforts have been a subject of discussion for some time. We believe a mutually agreeable outcome that is protective of resources is within reach for both parties.”