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New Programmatic Agreement issued

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - A document that has been highly anticipated by many finally appeared in the inbox of several of those involved in the negotiations surrounding the Programmatic Agreement, which outlines how the military will handle the buildup in regards to historic sites on Guam.

Pagat may finally be off the table, but only according to how you define "Pagat". The latest version of the Programmatic Agreement is out, as Governor Eddie Calvo's chief policy advisor Arthur Clark along with State Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon will now review the draft version they received today from the Navy.

Governor Calvo said he would be inclined to sign the PA if the military put in writing the four pillars on the buildup stated by Undersecretary Robert Work when he was on Guam last month. Those included shrinking of the federal footprint by the end of the buildup, leaving Pagat Village and caves untouched, using a "One Guam" approach in improving infrastructure and employing a "Green Guam" approach to bolster island sustainability and protect natural resources.

According to Clark, he's been in negotiations since then to ensure the concessions are in black and white. "And indicated we wanted the language to be stronger and more definitive than just access we actually were looking for language that would say that the Pagat Village and cave would actually be outside the footprint of the range and that's the version that's in the draft right now," he explained.

Language added to the final draft version includes:

"If DoD selects an alternative for the range complex in the Route 15 area as noted in the FEIS, DoD commits to providing 24 hour a day/7 day a week unimpeded access to the Pagat Village and Pagat cave historical sites, as part of the measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts on historic properties. DoD will adjust proposed plans outlined in the FEIS to continue unfettered access to these important historical and cultural locations. Pagat cave and Pagat Village would not be included in the footprint of the complex and full ownership of these properties would remain with the Government of Guam."

The new draft also includes a commitment to seek congressional approval to transfer DoD funds to fully fund a cultural repository facility. Previously, DoD only offered partial funding.

Added Clark, "They are making a commitment to transfer funds to another federal agency significantly more than they committed to before at least twice as much as what was committed before so we can fund a full-scale, world class state of the art cultural repository and use their influence to advocate for funding from other agencies for a museum facility."

Clark says he has been meeting with indigenous rights groups and will be working with Aguon to make adjustment to the new version. And this time, unlike the December 30 version, the consulting parties were sent a copy.

The Department of Defense is requesting comments on this latest draft be submitted by February 25.

As for how this new version will affect a lawsuit brought by the National Preservation Trust, the Guam Preservation Trust and We Are Guahan against the DoD - Joe Quinata, chief program officer at the Guam Preservation Office, says the changes may not be sufficient. He says the matter is more about the DoD looking at alternatives for the firing range site.

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