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Hearing held at Legislature

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - It was supposed to be a roundtable discussion to provide a satus on the implementation of the programmatic agreement signed in 2011. But a bulk of the dialogue focused on the DODD's preference to use Northwest Field as a live training range in order for that to happen however,  a surface danger zone would need to be established over parts of the Ritidian National Wildlife Refuge.

The mention of Ritidian has set off a firestorm of controversy. Dededo resident Bobbie Benavente says she took off work today just to make sure her voice is heard. "I cannot count on some public leaders to protect what is the rights of the people. I have to learn, I have to speak out as uncomfortable as it may be as contrary as what my parents and grandparents have taught me over the years to be silent, and be respectful and trust the leaders we're past that," she said.

The question has also been raised as to whether an updated programmatic agreement should be drafted as a result of changes to the original EIS. Guam State Historic Preservation officer Lynda Aguon said yes, but that wasn't her only recommendation. "It needs to be resurveyed and the Ritidian site it needs to be nominated if they plan to use be Northwest Field I would suggest I probably would hold out to mitigate it in such a way  that they do a resurvey of the bottom part. The settlement site coastal and identify everything there burials for one and nominate the site to the National Register," she said.

Joint Guam Program Office Randall Sablan meanwhile encourages island residents to attend, to clear up any misconceptions about the training range and proposal for an SDZ over Ritidian. "There are a variety of perspectives and plans that will be provided it should be very informative people should get a very good feel for where the ranges exactly are including the disturbed areas, the areas that will be impacted by development," he said.

For residents like Benavente however she's hoping that "I ask that the leaders in government continue to have an open forum and not just a week before an SEIS meeting because it will take a whole lot of time for people like me, to read all these documents and try to understand and have meetings like this where little by little more light is shed upon my understanding of the issues."
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