Guam's local, military leaders visit endangered tree at AAFB
- Jim McConnell, Serianthes nelsonii principal investigator, Guam Plant Extinction Prevention Program, describes the Serianthes nelsonii tree to Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander, Joint Region Marianas, left, and Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, center, during a visit to the tree at Andersen Air Force Base June 3. Chatfield hosted the visit for Guam the governor, her staff, and members of the 35th Guam Legislature to provide insight of the military's active efforts to conserve native plant species. (U.S. Navy photo by Alana Chargualaf)
Guam's top local and military officials trekked to Guam's only mature Serianthes nelsonii tree at Andersen Air Force Base in Yigo June 3. Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander, Joint Region Marianas, hosted the environmental familiarization tour at Northwest Field for Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, her staff, and members of the 35th Guam Legislature. The endangered Serianthes nelsonii, commonly known as the fire tree, is endemic to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, but is endangered. "I am grateful for the opportunity to continue our partnership with the government of Guam, which includes visits like these to environmental, cultural, and historical sites, such as the Serianthes nelsonii, to familiarize our partners with our active efforts to protect and preserve the island's natural resources," Chatfield said. "It is our hope that the steadfast efforts of our service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and local partners to propagate this tree and its saplings, coupled with our broader efforts to protect native plant species, will prevent the degradation of Guam's limestone forest." During the tour, guests were briefed by DoD environmental subject matter experts on the state of the limestone forest, and preservation efforts to increase the Serianthes nelsonii population. The group also visited numerous Serianthes nelsonii saplings protected in the tree's nearby surroundings. "Our whole island is very much concerned about cultural preservation and the military is very sensitive to that," Leon Guerrero stated, "I am very appreciative that the admiral took her time out to come along and organize this very informational tour." Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, speaker of the 35th Guam Legislature, echoed the governor's thoughts and stressed the importance of maintaining the existing partnership between the local government and the military. "We need to bring everybody together: the military family, the civilian family, [and] our government stakeholders to the table and share the plan of what we need to do when the Marines come to Guam," she said.