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Rich cultural area makes endangered list

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - An area of Guam rich in cultural artifacts makes an exclusive list by a highly recognized organization.  "Picture Pagat in your minds eyes tranquil peaceful lattes stone abundant plants, herbs limestone formation the remnant of an ancient village," said Guam Preservation Trust chairman Michael Makio.

That picture could be shattered, according to his organization.  But a move by a national non-profit group could help keep that from happening.  "Current U.S. military plans call for the construction of five new firing ranges on the bluff above Pagat, frequent training exercises and live fire would occur with in hundreds of feet of sensitive culture resources," said Brian Turner, regional attorney for the Western Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Dr. Marilyn Salas added, "And to think that this village would then have as its neighbor, the sounds of guns would take away from the pristine part of what we are and that in the intangible culture that we have to protect also."

Today Turner a representative of the NTHP announced that the village of Pagat is now on their list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2010.  "With this listing we encourage the military to explore alternative sites and take measure to make sure the buildup is respectful of Guam's rich cultural heritage," he added.

Nearly 20 latte pillars can be found just down the road in Pagat, and today a major step was taken to preserve Guam's history and protect it from possible destruction.  The Trust devotes its resources to saving historic places in America. Among the other sites on the list are the state parks across the mainland United States.

That a part of Guam would receive such recognition is touching for one local resident, as Josephine Jackson stated, "To be recognized is really interesting and touch our hearts that somebody is doing this for us."

250 acres of Guam's land are covered under the listing-but being named by the Trust does not guarantee the land will be protected from the military buildup, and for Al Lizama, who is retired from the Guam Preservation Office, the battle continues.  "It is not just Pagat that is important, it's not just Pagat, but I think it's good that it is listed in the 11 endangered sites because I don't believe the military should just grab any kind of property on this island."

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