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SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (February 6, 2001 - Saipan Tribune/PINA Nius Online)---Land issues are high on the agenda at the Pacific Island Council Committee Conference being held in Saipan this week.

Representatives from the Marshall Islands, Palau, Kosrae, Guam, the Northern Marianas and other Pacific nations will present case problems and perennial concerns that need urgent attention.

United States Department of Agriculture experts are scheduled to facilitate the discussion on land problems, forestry issues and technical and financial assistance that can be readily availed by council members.

Officials of the Northern Marianas Department of Land and Natural Resources are contemplating possible agreements with private landowners to help preserve resources and combat erosion problems.

Although private lands are no longer under the administration of the department, the need to properly address major concerns raised by landowners necessitates the agency's involvement, according to Division of Agriculture acting director Stanley Villagomez.

Mr. Villagomez said: "In the CNMI, our problem is the private lands are no longer our responsibility but several cases of erosion occurred on this land and we can offer assistance to private land owners. This is a specific project that we have to plan."

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

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