Cultural advocates call on community to save Ritidian - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Cultural advocates call on community to save Ritidian

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Members of Prutehi Litekyan rallied along the ITC Building intersection in Tamuning on Monday afternoon, calling on the public to speak out in support of saving Ritidian from becoming a live fire training range.

Dozens of people rallied along the roadway calling on the community for help. "It's a distress call because the firing range has been approved, has gotten the latest approval from the US Fish and Wildlife Service with their biological opinion," explained Save Ritidian member Sabina Perez. She said this latest approval would allow the construction of the controversial live fire training range to move forward.

"It's Ritidian and also Haputo - they're planning to destroy over 1,000 acres of limestone forest," she continued. "Not only is it a natural wonder, it's a habitat to a lot of species that are only found here in Guam or the Mariana Islands."

The group met with Governor Eddie Calvo last month in an effort to urge him to take steps to halt the construction from moving forward. Perez believes that amending or terminating the Programmatic Agreement of 2011 be one path to make that happen. "We want to urge the governor to help us stop the firing range," Perez explained.

Earlier this year Governor Calvo withdrew his support for the PA citing a breach to the agreement due to H2B Visa denials. However, Calvo is not a signatory to the agreement that was forged between the island's State Historic Preservation Officer and the federal government.

"We have to look at the policies that led us to this point, and so that's why we're asking for not just the stooping of the firing range, but an examination of how did we get to this point, where our species are about to become extinct, our cultural sites are about to be desecrated, it should never have gotten to this point," she said.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo has previously noted that the community expressed support for the Ritidian location in prior hearings because it addressed concerns raised in the Environmental Impact Statement and is located entirely on Department of Defense land. She added the DoD has committed to ensuring public access to cultural sites in the area.

These sites are not part of the range itself but part of the surface danger zone used to ensure public safety.

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