Guam Historic Preservation Agreement Requires Revision

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Programmatic Agreement didn’t cover buildup activities in Ritidian

By Louella Losinio

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, May 14, 2014) – In Guam the need to amend the programmatic agreement, or PA, to incorporate the changes in the draft supplemental environmental impact statement was raised in a roundtable discussion yesterday.

In March 2011, the Guam State Historic Preservation Office signed a PA relative to the realignment of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, with representatives from the Department of Defense and the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

According to Sen. Ben Pangelinan, the appropriations committee chairman, the agreement satisfies Section 106 requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1969 for federal agencies to consider how their efforts will affect historic properties.

During yesterday’s roundtable, Guam State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon provided a status update on the programmatic agreement, noting that 27 projects have been received by their office which they have reviewed and commented on.

The 27 include concluded and ongoing projects which require submission of a mitigation plan or a final archaeological survey report, according to Aguon.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz inquired how many of the projects are specific to the proposed Ritidian live-fire range complex, to which Aguon responded that they did not receive a PA memo from DOD regarding the proposal.

Danger zone

As part of the planned buildup, the establishment of a surface danger zone (SDZ) over the Ritidian unit of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge has been eyed to support the operation of a live-fire training range complex at the Northwest Field area of Andersen Air Force Base.

Aguon stressed the historical and cultural significance of the area, where burial sites and traces of ancestral settlements have been identified.

"You'll find lattes, depressions where water is collected, pictograph caves, pottery shards," she said, further noting that the area needs to be resurveyed and nominated to the national register of historic sites.

"There are survey reports and it is in our inventory. It is not in the national register because we are trying to nominate the site. Sites have been identified but there is no PA memo. But we know already that there are sites that will be affected," Aguon said.

During the roundtable, she also underscored the importance of amending the PA to reflect the changes made in the new draft SEIS as well as opening a new round of public consultations on the changes.

Pangelinan said although 27 projects have been put under review, so far public comments had not been sought from the community nor the information published or disseminated through the media.

Background

During the roundtable, Pangelinan reviewed some of the agreements DOD agreed to as part of the PA. These included the construction of a 20,000-square-foot curation facility on Guam as well as a federal curation facility to house the artifacts and remains found during the buildup process.

The agreement also includes a commitment to inventory all records of cultural materials removed from Guam to other locations in the United States and to return all collections within DOD control for curation.

According to Pangelinan, the preservation of historical and cultural resources is an important component of the PA. As the draft SEIS public hearings begin on Saturday, May 17, Pangelinan said the roundtable meeting was intended to provide the community with information related to the agreement that will assist the public in formulating questions, and submitting oral testimony as well as written public comments for the SEIS.

The senator noted that the roundtable yesterday was the beginning of a series of discussions that his committee intends to hold to further examine the impact of the buildup to historic property.

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