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Advisory Council urges execution of PA

by Lannie Walker

Guam - A federal agency is asking the Navy for assurances that the Record of Decision does not rule out other options for relocation of a firing range for U.S. Marines.  It's the latest move in a tug-of-war over an agreement that will shape how the buildup will affect historic properties on Guam.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation - a federal agency counseling the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy - has sent a letter to the Navy, urging them to execute the Programmatic Agreement within the next few weeks. State Archaeologist John Mark Joseph reacted by saying, "I think they clearly said that they should have had a programmatic agreement before they issued a ROD, which didn't happen, apparently."

And hasn't happened, namely because Guam officials are holding out asking that certain terms be meet. The Department of Parks & Recreation has sent a letter to the Navy outlining their concerns over the PA.  Said Joseph, "The letter was sent to address our concerns on the programmatic agreement of course there are several the cumulative effects the public participation some of the archaeology and all."

In the letter, the agency asks that plans by the Federal Highway Administration to realign Route 15 be removed from the PA because of the direct relationship to the proposed firing range at Pagat. They also claim the $5 million figure the Department of Defense has agreed to request from Congress in order to fund cumulative effects of the buildup is not enough.

"What we would like is for all artifacts to curated with the Government of Guam because they do belong to the people of Guam. And so in that aspect, that's why we are looking for cumulative effects for a museum and curation thereof," he said.

Additionally Parks & Rec is requesting that all World War II remains be mapped and placed in a database to be shared with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office, and that public meetings on the Programmatic Agreement be held.  "Right now, it's in the middle of negotiations and we look forward to continuing in a prosperous manner for everyone," Joseph stated.

Until the Programmatic Agreement is completed and signed, a final decision on Pagat could continue to be deferred.

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing today, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo urged the DoD to consider moving the proposed fire range at Pagat to Tinian or using existing federal land on Guam.  William Lynn, deputy secretary of defense, stated in the hearing that the DoD will examine alternatives to the proposed firing range location.

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