Thursday, December 2, 2010

DOD Begins to Waver on Pagat

Department of Defense Begins to Waver on Plans for Pågat;
Community of Guam United to Preserve this Ancient Village
December 3, 2010

After a full year of the Guam community working to protect the Pågat area from becoming a firing range complex, the Department of Defense is wavering on its plans to use the area for Marine training. Ms. Jackalynn Pfannenstiel, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, has been on Guam this week attempting to sell a plan of “unimpeded access” to Pågat and a land-swap deal, while still intending to claim and control the land at Pågat.

In November of 2009, the Draft EIS was released and the community began to respond to the plans outlined to use the ancient village for a firing range complex. After 11,000 comments, the Final EIS showed little to no change—and, the Record of Decision only put off the decision on Pågat, with no significant change from the FEIS. Now, after the Guam Preservation Trust, We Are Guåhan and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have filed a lawsuit against the DoD, they are finally trying to engage the community.

“They have had two weeks to review the lawsuit, and they know that they have broken the law,” says We Are Guåhan member and attorney Leevin Camacho. “We have been very clear—access is not sufficient. We do not want the DoD to have control over access to any of the Pågat area. We know what happens when the DoD controls access. They make promises that are quickly compromised for whatever their needs are, regardless of what our community needs.”

After a meeting with the Senators and Mayors yesterday, Pfannenstiel was told that access of any sort was not a sufficient mitigation. “And now they want a land swap,” said Acting Speaker Tina Muña-Barnes. “Why don’t they put the firing range on that land, then? They want to trade back land they took from us in the first place. We’re not biting.”

We Are Guåhan would like to congratulate Mayors Lizama, Chargualaf, Blas, Lizama and Flores, as well as the Acting Speaker, Speaker Won Pat and the Senators on their continuing unity and commitment to protecting and preserving Pågat and our beautiful island of Guam.

From We Are Guahan