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Navy selects training site

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The US Navy has chosen which alternative they will be using for the regional training study area.

It was a process that started five years ago, and today the Navy signed the Record of Decision for the Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) study area. The ROD documents the Navy's decision to conduct military readiness under their preferred alternative.

US Pacific Fleet senior environmental planner and lead planner for MITT John Van Name said, "Alternative 1 was adjustments to the amount of military readiness activities that we need to support in the future; alternative 2 was additional increases to the amount of training that could be conducted, but Alternative 1 is the selected."

He says that they did not choose Alternative 2 because the additional training events were over and beyond what they actually need to get through the next five years. During the analysis of the impacts of the training van name says they looked at the 13 resources areas, saying, "We looked at many areas of the human environment we looked at marine mammals, we looked at marine endangered species we looked at terrestrial species we looked air quality water quality socioeconomics safety."

The training and testing activities include the use of active sonar and explosives, pier side sonar maintenance and testing alongside navy piers located in inner Apra Harbor, and land-based training activities at existing ranges and other training locations on Guam and the CNMI. He adds that the activities were very similar and in most cases identical to ones already being conducted and would not have an impact on the public's access to cultural and historic areas. He adds that part of the proposed action is the establishment of danger zones around a small arms range off of Finegayan and the creation of danger zones for the current activities relative to small boats gunnery training out of Apra Habor heading east.

He says that the MITT preferred Alternative 1 does not have any relation to the proposed live firing range proposed at Ritidian, saying, "That is an entirely separate proposed action that was the Joint Guam Program Office's Supplemental EIS that was also recently released."

The mitt is a re-analysis and refresh of the Marianas Island Range Complex Environmental Impact Statement conducted five years ago. He stresses that the MITT preferred alternative is not establishing any new range capabilities or ranges on Guam or the CNMI.

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