Manmade damages a concern at Tarzan Falls - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Manmade damages a concern at Tarzan Falls

by Michele Catahay

Guam - Many residents spend their leisure time hiking Guam's pristine areas. But several are concerned about what local officials are doing to ensure these natural resources are protected.  And while there are many things attributed to the erosion at Tarzan Falls, it's apparent that more off-roading is occurring on the trail.

Yona resident Leonard Arriola says he remembers when the Tarzan Falls trail was much easier to hike and it was much easier to get around the area - but today, it's apparent that large trucks have made way through the jungles, causing much erosion.  "It's a concern to me because before you can use regular cars to get in and now you have to use off-roading vehicles and it's destroying the environment by bigger use of cars and more pollution to the air," he said.

Guam Boonie Stompers President David Lotz says the trail is located in conservation areas north of Cross-Island Road and is in the purview of the Department of Agriculture, saying, "Perhaps over the last 20 years, the Department reforested the area. Actually, for the last couple of years or so, the area has been completely neglected. We've gone there and I've personally attempted to communicate with the current acting director. Joseph Torres, to make certain the access roads are closed."

Cause for concern is that large trucks have managed to get into the vicinity, causing the ground to look all torn-up. Lotz says these areas aren't chained, allowing vehicles to access the area much easier.  "Off-roading is very destructive and results in vegetation loss and then soil erosion, and you can see little gullies from off-roading out there," he explained.

Lotz says he's attempted to speak with the director in hopes that something can be done, adding, "Getting lack of response on work based upon commitment is quite annoying because you feel that public officials have a responsibility particularly in an area that has a unique aspect of our island's natural heritage."

Director Torres says when he heard from Lotz two years ago, his staffers installed poles and chains, but have since been damaged by the heavy equipment entering the trail. He does say although he wishes more can be done, his agency lacks adequate funding preventing them to post a guard at these sites 24/7. He says he's even gone as far as to use some of his personal funds to purchase such items. Torres says he has tried to address concerns that have trickled in to his office on similar concerns and he's working with lawmakers on the issue.

Lotz says if nothing is done to correct this issue, the erosion will continue for years to come.

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