Admiral Chatfield says existing firing ranges on Guam are too small, justifying NW Field/Ritidian si
Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, Joint Region Marianas
Taking on community protest of the planned new live firing range at the former Northwest Field, adjacent to the Ritidian conservation area, Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield has made arguments countering claims by the Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian group and some Guam lawmakers.
Admiral Chatfield submitted testimony on Sen. Telena Nelson's Resolution 228-34, which calls for a halt on the firing range complex until the Department of Defense addresses all legal and environmental concerns surrounding military development in the Mariana Islands.
The resolution passed Tuesday on an 11-to-3 vote.
The Northwest Field/Ritidian location was one of five alternative sites considered for the range, Chatfield said, but the previous Pågat location generated particularly strong opposition with regard to its impact on cultural resources. She said other sites on Naval Base Guam would have also caused problems with important prehistoric resources.
Chatfield said the existing ranges are too small to handle the number of Marines planned to come to Guam and that expanding these ranges would only create a new set of problems.
Admiral Chatfield said that the military has carefully considered community concerns over a number of years and as a result, produced conservation and mitigation plans that protect forests, the northern water aquifer and encourage ongoing efforts to aid recovery of Guam bird and bat populations.
She said that in fact, federal environmental laws applying to the Department of Defense are more restrictive on military development than those of the local government.
"The DoD respects the land it manages, and as an expression of that respect, we manage the environmental impacts of our actions," Chatfield said in her written testimony.