- By Pacific island Times News Staff
Military asked to suspend work at firing range project site
Artifacts removed from historic sites taken by the Office of Sen. Therese Terlaje during a May 23,2019 visit to Finegayan / NCTS area. Photo courtesy of guam Legislature.
Guam State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) Patrick Lujan has asked the Navy to suspend clearing work at the project site for the fifth firing range in Northwest Field, pending full archeological study in the area
where ancient human remains have been discovered.
Lujan noted that unlike the previous four firing range sites, the site designated for the MILCON P-735 Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range (P-735) has yet to be graded and cleared of forest and vegetation.
"I propose to resolve this objection by establishing a site-specific preconstruction archaeological survey for P- 735 after evaluating geospatial information from the monitoring of P-715, to include features, isolated objects and other relevant archaeological data," Lujan said in a letter to Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander of the Joint Region Marianas.
Lujan invokes Stipulation XIII of the 2011 Programmatic Agreement to object to the 2015 Training Range Review and Analysis (TRRA) document for the Live Fire Training Range Complex proposed at Northwest Field.
“The numerous findings of historical sites and human remains found at both [MILCON P-715 Known Distance Ranges] and [Camp Blaz] can only confirm the deficiencies of the TRRA," Lujan stated in his letter to Menoni.
"Hence, I am advising [Joint Region Marianas] to further collect information at P-735 prior to the signing of any contracts for any construction associated with P-735. This should eliminate any potential conflicts and the destruction of historic properties.”
Lujan is calling for a 45-day project suspension to allow a consultation period between the Navy and the SHPO.
Signatories, invited signatories and concurring Parties must agree and sign off on a proposed resolution within a 45-day consultation period for work to proceed. If an agreement is not reached, the matter will be referred to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, consistent with Stipulation XIII.
“A responsible military buildup must be based on an effective working partnership with the federal government at all stages of the process. The invocation of Stipulation XIII ensures that this process is done correctly to address all concerns raised by the SHPO at this site and all other construction sites,” said Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero. “The buildup needs to be done at a pace that benefits our people, and we must be our own advocates.”
In response, the Joint Region Marianas issued a statement, saying it "is committed to upholding the requirements outlined in the PA to protect and preserve cultural resources within lands under the Navy’s care. “We thank the Guam SHPO for his professionalism and willingness to engage in open dialogue with the (Department of Defense) through the Stipulation XIII process,” said Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz Environmental Director Al Borja. “The supplemental efforts have been a subject of discussion for some time. We believe a mutually-agreeable outcome that is protective of resources is within reach for both parties.” JRM said all the DoD’s activities since the onset of the relocation program have been in strict adherence to the 2011 Programmatic Agreement.
"It is through transparent engagement with the Guam SHPO and our partners in the government of Guam that we are able to accomplish the DoD mission responsibly, and with the utmost respect for the island’s cultural and natural resources," JRM said.
Following is the full text of Lujan's letter to Adm. John Menoni
Hafa Adai Rear Admiral Menoni,
In reference to the July 2, 2018 resolving objections agreement between Joint Region Marianas (JRM) and the Guam State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), I am invoking Stipulation Xill of the 2011 Programmatic Agreement to object to the 2015 Training Range Review and Analysis (TRRA) document for the entire Live Fire Training Range Complex proposed at Northwest Field. MILCON P-715 Known Distance Ranges is included in the resolving objections agreement, but the MILCON P-735 Multipurpose Machine Gun Range also relies upon the TRRA, which has not provided both parties with sufficient information to assess the effects of the undertaking on historic properties.
I propose to begin the 45-day consultation to resolve the objection on the date this letter is provided to the Signatories, Invited Signatories, and Concurring Parties.
P-735 was not included in previous objections on May 24, 20I 8 because it was not under bid and had no potential impact to construction schedules at the time. We decided to defer resolution of P-735 until such time that archaeological monitoring at P-715 yielded more infonnation. The undertaking under bid was J-001B, which had mass clearing/grading during the time of the 2018 Resolution.
The numerous findings of historical sites and human remains found at both P-715 and J-001 B can only confirm the deficiencies of the TRRA. Hence, I am advising JRM to further collect information at P-735 prior to the signing of any contracts for any construction associated with P-735. This should eliminate any potential conflicts and the destruction of historic properties.
Therefore, I object to any actions in this area until it is resurveyed. The invocation of this objection pursuant to Stipulation Xill is to resolve concerns based on the new information derived from the mutually-agreed upon monitoring at P-715.
The historic contexts of the late 19th /early 201h century were not fully considered in the surveys, such as the example of the Machanao Village, which was discovered in the text of examining the road system within P- 735. Furthermore, my office believes that JRM has not satisfactorily identified features found in the field and that many of our concerns have not been addressed properly. We hope that in the future we can generate a more constructive consultation with the implementation of all work and preservation of historic properties.
I propose to resolve this objection by establishing a site-specific preconstruction archaeological survey for P- 735 after evaluating geospatial information from the monitoring of P-715, to include features, isolated objects and other relevant archaeological data.
If agreement as to a proposed resolution is reached within the 45-day consultation period, JRM will summarize the resolution and provide the information to the Signatories, Invited Signatories, and Concurring Parties. If agreement is not reached within the consultation period, JRM will immediately refer the matter to the ACHP, consistent with Stipulation XIII.