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By Lindablue F. Romero

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (April 12, 2000 – Saipan Tribune/Abridged)---Considering the rich natural resources available in the Northern Islands, the CNMI government should consider carrying out infrastructure development on the remote volcanic island chain when residents are finally allowed to return.

This would give the people a chance to earn income in addition to carrying out subsistence fishing and farming, said Lynn Knight, President of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce.

A simple resort development allowing guests to enjoy the natural beauty of the island would favor ecotourism enthusiasts who love adventure trips, fishing and scuba diving, she said.

Ms. Knight also said the people of the Northern Islands should be supported in their request to be granted homesteads in the place they consider home as well as help them make a living once they are allowed to go back.

The CNMI government should take a second look at the assets of each of the islands and their capability to attract possible investors, said Ms. Knight.

Mayor Joseph Ogumoro has asked the Board of Public Lands to help Northern Islanders acquire permits for homesteads in the chain of islands, saying former residents should be allowed to return there despite the threat of a volcanic eruption.

In his appeal, Mayor Ogumoro said deeds to property would at least serve as assurances that the residents would not become squatters in their own islands.

Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio recently extended anew the declaration of disaster emergency in Alamagan, an island north of Saipan, in the wake of the continued threat of a major volcanic eruption.

Rep. William S. Torres, however, has asked the Board of Public Lands to issue permits for homestead lots and provide basic infrastructure to allow Northern Islanders to build permanent homes.

The House resolution asked BPL to extend the same benefits, privileges and opportunities being enjoyed by the residents of Saipan, Rota and Tinian under the CNMI Homestead Program.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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