Guam legislature wants hold on Ritidian firing range construction until legal challenges there and C
Senator Telena Nelson
Guam lawmakers by an 11-3 vote have passed a resolution intended to at least slow or stop the seemingly imminent start of construction of a live firing range at the Ritidian area of Guam, which has been the subject of demonstrations, public hearings and other controversy on the island.
Senator Telena Cruz Nelson’s Resolution No. 228-34 (COR) calls for a pause on construction and pre-construction activities related to the U.S. Department of the Navy’s proposed live-fire range at the former Northwest Field until final determinations are made by the U.S. Department of Defense as to the series of associated training ranges planned for Guam and the CNMI in support of the Guam military buildup. The resolution urges that the pause extend until all related active lawsuits that have challenged the range plans as threatening the environmental and cultural resources of the northern coastline of Guam are resolved.
Looking toward Rota, past the Ritidian cliffline. Standing latte stones below the cliffline; other cultural artifacts found in the jungles below suggest centuries of human activity and occupation. Errant bullets from the range would fly over the cliffline, creating a nearly year-round danger zone below.
Senator Nelson stated: “If we do not stand up now, we sit silently and wait for a roundtable hearing when we see the public’s outcry, for me it sends one message: We do not hear you. These people elected us into office and our job is to serve them first, not our special interest. Not set the dollar over the value of a life and our culture,” she continued, “Para bai hu Prutehi yan hu Difende i Hinengge, i Kottura, i Lengguahi, i Aire, i Hanom yan i tano’ Chamoru. This is what we stand for. Why will we deny ourselves this? Why will we deny the people this? Why will we deny them our action?”
Senator Nelson deeply expresses her appreciation to her colleagues but most importantly, to various stakeholders that contributed to the resolution, provided testimonies and have fought tirelessly and wholeheartedly through the years in protecting our island’s sacred spaces and its people. Even with an absence of a supporting colleague, we were able to garnish an overwhelming support to pass this significant resolution.
“This is not the end solution but this is a momentous stepping stone for our people as an island and as a united body to take action and represent our people,” Senator Nelson said.