Calvo briefed by feds on Final SEIS - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Calvo briefed by feds on Final SEIS

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It's been a long time coming and considered a major step in moving the military buildup forward on Guam. And nearly a decade later when the buildup was first discussed and ahead of the Record of Decision expected later next month, the federal government has released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.  

Governor Eddie Calvo calls this Buildup Number 2, saying, "It is consistent with the Programmatic Agreement and the four pillars that were reached with then-Undersecretary of the Navy, Bob Work." At Adelup, officials from the Joint Guam Program Office briefed the island's chief executive on the release of the Final SEIS. "What was the spirit of the four pillars you see has been manifested with the release of this new SEIS, the Final EIS, because you see the major issues that the people of Guam have in regard to this buildup," he said.

Those four pillars include the shrinking of the Department of Defense footprint by the end of the buildup, 24/7 unimpeded access to Pagat Village and Pagat Cave, and using a "One Guam" approach to ensure civilian infrastructure is improved along with employing a "Green Guam" approach. "There were social and economic and environmental and cultural issues that had to be put on the table and they've been addressed," said the governor confidently.

The Final SEIS now sees approximately 5,000 US Marines and 1,300 dependents to be relocated over 12 years and 13 years of moderate construction activity with a gradual phase-out. The 2015 Final SEIS shows the preferred alternative is to construct and operate the proposed cantonment at Naval Base Guam's telecommunications site at Finegayan, the proposed family housing at Andersen Air Force Base and the proposed live fire training range at Northwest Field.   

Added Calvo, "And again, the cantonment area, the residential areas, the live fire training ranges, not only are they going to be within the federal properties, but even as this has evolved, some of the properties that are within the federal footprint, as a result of the Green Guam approach, there is going to be a lot of savings of properties that originally, and I'm talking about limestone forest that would have been leveled, so you're seeing so much progress."

The live fire training range was one of the biggest areas of contention. According to JGPO Forward Director Commander Dan Schaan, issues over the public access to Ritidian Beach still need to be resolved. He explained, "In the case of public access to Ritidian Unit, that land currently is being managed and controlled by the Fish and Wildlife Service. So if that alternative is selected, there will be a refuge management plan implemented, negotiated, consulted and out of that will become an alternative access for public access to Ritidian Unit when a particular range is active, so it's identified as a concern and we're aware of that and it is clearly on our follow-up list to do. But that work will be done following the selection of the alternative of that requirement."

Joint Region Marianas commander Rear Admiral Bette Bolivar says the work isn't over just yet, noting, "It's important to know that and see how much the Department of Defense has listened to the Government of Guam, as well as the people. We've come such a long way."

Other leaders such as Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo reacted to the release of the Final SEIS stating it's a very important step forward in the relocation effort. She believes the preferred sites for the main base and the firing range are appropriate locations on Guam that do not require any additional Government of Guam or private land. Meanwhile, Senator Frank Aguon, Jr., who chairs the Legislature's Committee on the US Military Relocation, says based on his initial review of the SEIS he's confident with the gradual approach that has been taken through the downsizing of the proposed Marine Corps buildup on Guam. He adds the smaller footprint on Guam demonstrates the DOD has listened and responded to the concerns of the people of Guam.

You can view the Final SEIS at the RFK Memorial Library at the University of Guam, the Nieves M Flores Memorial Library in Hagatna or online at http://guambuildupeis.us. The Record of Recision is expected to be released at the end of the summer around late August.

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