Groups gather for "Learn More, Speak Now" - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Groups gather for "Learn More, Speak Now"

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Next week Wednesday marks the deadline to submit a comment on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. And in order help residents dissect the over 1,400 page document, a group of local organizations came together recently to "Learn More, Speak Now."

Just as the military hosted a series of public meetings last month, local organization joined together recently to present their findings on the Draft SEIS. Victoria Leon Guerrero, a member of Our Islands Are Sacred, says there's a perception the buildup will not have an impact on residents and that we should just welcome it without asking any questions. She told KUAM News, "And that's very dangerous for our very, very small island community which is already so incredibly strained especially when you look at our public services and our social needs."

She adds the SEIS states that there is a potential for socio-cultural impact to occur but the magnitude of the impacts are difficult to predict and varies substantially based on policy and program choices yet to be made as to how to address them. "So this statement is offensive in that it kind of puts the responsibility on our local government to determine what the socio-cultural impacts will be and the Department of the Navy takes no responsibility for the actions of marines in other places," she said.

And having read the over 1,400 pages of the SEIS, she believes the writing is vague and the significant impacts noted are not quantified with actual numbers or any kind of breakdown. But the discussion wasn't just about the impact to our people but also our infrastructure, our economy and our land.  We Are Guahan's Cara Flores-Mays spoke on the handful of alternatives for the live-fire training range including the preferred alternative at Northwest Field. She said, "Something to note that whichever of these areas is chosen range footprints would be entirely cleared of vegetation, which is something that would if you're thinking of 1,000 acres of vegetation is quite a bit especially when you're right next to recovering habitat or sacred historic cultural sights."

Meanwhile, Jaiyanika Lawrence of Our Islands Are Sacred stated through her research of the SEIS, the construction of both the live fire training range and the cantonment area would destroy over a thousand acres of limestone forest.

"Although the size of the buildup has been reduced, the impact of our environment remains a serious issue for our community to be aware and prepared for," she said.

Along with the finding from these local organizations, several Government of Guam agencies have issued their comments on the possible impact the buildup may have on their departments based on the SEIS. You can read those comments on OneGuam.com. You can also view the Draft SEIS on guambuildupeis.us
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