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New Programmatic Agreement version released

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - A new version of an agreement on how historical properties will be treated during the military buildup is out. KUAM News found out how it was received by the Guam State Historic Preservation Office and We Are Guahan, the latter a group that has recently joined a lawsuit against the Department of Defense in an effort to protect a key historical property on Guam.

For months local and federal officials have gone back and forth over an agreement that outlines how the buildup will affect historical properties on Guam. The Programmatic Agreement - as it's called - was expected to be signed months ago before the military issued their Record of Decision, a plan of action on how the buildup will be carried out. But many months later the PA remains unsigned.

The latest version was send to the Parks and Recreation Office over the weekend. John Mark Joseph Guam, the state archeologist, explained that tells us one thing has not changed. "I do believe in looking at the one map Pagat at least that area is still marked off as a project area," he said.  Then asked if it was taken out of the PA, he responded, "I don't think so."

Removing the historical land around Pagat Village as the location for a live artillery training site has been a must for Attorney Leevin Camacho and the members of the indigenous rights group We Are Guahan. According to the latest draft of the agreement those requests seems to have fallen on deaf ears.  "I don't think the DoD understands what our concerns are we don't want them to take any land any additional land for a firing range complex. We don't want them put a firing range complex on Pagat; they are trying to make this about access about reconfiguring the ranges and that's not really where our objections are at," Camacho stated.

But an initial review of the new PA has made one thing clear to Camacho, as he said, "The decision was really made in the ROD - they picked Pagat and they haven't given any indication of that they are not going to take Pagat and build a firing range complex there."

Which could mean an agreement is not any closer to being reached. "As long as the PA calls for the firing ranges to be there, I don't think we are going to sign off on it," asserted the lawyer.

We Are Guahan is an invited signatory, meaning their signature is not required.  But State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon, whose signature is mandatory, has also continually asked for Pagat to be removed from the Programmatic Agreement. Aguon says she is still reviewing the document.  According to Joseph, the office will be going over the new pa with a fine tooth comb.

"We will definitely have to go through this meticulously for everyone involved," he said.

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