Peaceful life on Tinian could change after military moves - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Peaceful life on Tinian could change after military moves

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Located north of Guam, the island of Tinian is comparatively small at about 11 miles long and 4 miles wide with a population of over 3,500 people. "Tinian is a peaceful, its quiet, beautiful pristine island, very similar to many parts of Guam," explained Tinian mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas. He said that way of life for the people and visitors of Tinian could change with the proposed plans outlined by the military in CNMI Joint Military Training Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which was recently released.

He continued, "For example, two of our beaches that we frequent and even the tourist frequent up north will be used as an amphibious landing site areas that are frequented by tourists and locals alike will be inaccessible and the airspace that's going to be used by the military would mean that when its in use, civil aviation will not be allow to occur and that affects our tourism industry as well."

At the direction of the Tinian leadership, San Nicolas came to Guam a few weeks ago to learn from Guam leaders on how they responded to the EIS for Guam's military buildup. "This is all a part of the 'crawl, walk, run' strategy and they talk about it in the Draft EIS," the mayor added. "What happens in Guam affects Tinian and vice-versa and also the northern island of Pagan, because of the use of live fire, which would be primarily in Tinian and in pagan, it can change our way of life the reason why that will happen is the fact that there will be soldiers marines relocated to Guam, so we're all part of the puzzle."

San Nicolas says while currently there's no military presence on Tinian, two-thirds of the island is leased by the military. He clarifies that Tinian is not anti-military but he does oppose the potentially hazard training and construction activities outlined in the EIS that would include aviation exercises using machine guns and rockets with the high impact areas within close walking distances of homes.

"There's issue of noise, there's issue of access to these sites that are important to the people and tourism and the environment not just the beaches but the fishing area and of course access to tour civil airport we put all this together, of course the people of Tinian who will be living there, will have concerns, and as its written, no I do not agree with that," he added.

San Nicolas says because Tinian is much smaller, the impact is larger and more magnified. He hopes to use his second trip to Guam this month as a way to reach out to the people for provide comment.

"So I'm here to encourage our young people, whether you're from Tinian or not, this affects the entire Marianas - get involved, participate and provide your input," said San Nicolas.

Three public meetings are set for this week in Saipan and Tinian. Comments are due by June 3. To read the entire Draft SEIS and to comment, go to www.cnmijointmilitarytrainingeis.com.  
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