Guam State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon said "things have changed" since the 2011 military buildup Record of Decision and the 2015 Training Range Review and Analysis concerning the plan to build a live-fire training range complex at Andersen Air Force Base.
"We're finding things that weren't found then," she said.
Recent grading and clearing of the firing range site on Northwest Field, on the air base, have uncovered burial remains and historic artifacts, she said. "They (the military) told us they found it, which is why we want a supplemental review."
Maj. Timothy Patrick, public affairs officer for the Marine Corps on Guam, said, however, "there have been no changes to information that would require a re-examination of the siting of the range complex."
While there were some bone fragments that were discovered as part of soil lab work, it was determined that they were not part of an actual burial site, Patrick said.
Aguon maintains that the programmatic agreement requires a supplemental consultation and review if there are any new findings.
"They're saying there has not been any settlement or habitation of the plateau? There has been," Aguon said. "How can you say that when you find 18 burial sites and latte scatters? How can you say it was never settled on the top?"
However, Maj. Patrick emphasized, "to clear up misinformation – there are no burials located within the construction footprint of the firing range complex, and the same applies for ancient latte stone villages," he said. "Our cultural resource specialists provided the details of these findings to the SHPO, who agreed that these fragmentary remains were not associated with any sort of burial."
Aguon spoke to The Guam Daily Post yesterday afternoon in her Agana Heights office, following the Post's report about a letter sent to her by Reid Nelson, director of the Office of Federal Agency Programs. She said she never received the letter. "Not hand-delivered, not even emailed," she said. "I'm very upset."
Reid was responding to Aguon's Sept. 26 letter requesting a pause in construction plans for the firing range because of what she believes are new findings. In his response, Reid recommended Aguon take the issue to Joint Region Marianas, which is the military leadership on Guam, because the start of construction is "imminent."
'Whether you like it or not, it's coming'
Aguon told K57 radio host Patti Arroyo yesterday morning, "If they're saying it's imminent, whether you like it or not, the buildup is coming in that area, why should I, or Prutehi Litekyan and all the other groups, why should we go through the motion of doing it (appealing to JRM) if we know it's going to happen?"
"They could have said, 'Let's have a teleconference,'" Aguon said. "I wasn't expecting them to say, 'Whether you like it or not, it's coming.'"
Aguon also told the Post that her efforts to seek a supplemental review are motivated solely by her desire to protect and preserve Guam's historic sites. She rejected any suggestion that the governor, or anyone else, had urged her to do what she could to slow the process given the governor's decision to withdraw his support for the buildup in the wake of the ongoing freeze of H-2B worker approvals, which has hurt the island's economy.
"No, we never discuss my functions," Aguon said. "I deal with historic properties. The governor never contacted me."