For those of you who don't know why this protest is happening, read the articles below. You can also check out some of the recent posts from Drea on Waiting on Wonderland. The images in this post were painted by her for today's protest.
From her post "Liberate Pagat:"
Today is the day we celebrate Guam's liberation from the Japanese. As a child, my grandmother would have our mothers get all of us together. We'd go to the parade and watch as all the amazing floats rolled by. The floats are always really amazing. It was so much fun for us kids, but for my Grandma it was deeper than just candy, music, and floats. When she was our age they weren't marching in parades. The marching they did was different. My grandma is gone now, but I still respect today as her day. I see today more as a memorial day for those who lived through and those who lost their lives, during the occupation and ending it.
Instead of going to the parade or even watching it on t.v., I decided to stay home and make posters for the rally on Friday. We will be lining route 15 to show the military officials and the CEQ that we care about Pagat. And really, it isn't just the ancient village that is being affected. There are families who will be asked to give up their land. The Raceway Park, that has helped to keep our roads safe from illegal drag racing, will have to relocate. How long will it take for them to rebuild? There is also an endangered species of Butterflies, the Marianas 8 Spot Butterfly, that calls Pagat home. And then there is the noise pollution and environmental problems that the firing range can cause. Not to mention, the military already has 1/3 of the island. What will be left for us when they're done? Will they ever be done?
The $1 Billion Question
The Marianas Variety
July 23, 2010
This has been the question many people in the community have been asking since the release of the draft environmental impact statement last November. This question was also the topic of a series of conference calls held last week by the Joint Guam Program Office and hosted by the Council on Environmental Quality.
Many in the community, including the governor, the legislature, and Congresswoman Bordallo have urged the Department of Defense to stay within its footprint. DoD currently controls approximately 39,000 acres on Guam, or one-third of the island. It is reasonable to assume that DoD could therefore accommodate firing ranges that would reportedly take up 1,200 acres.
During the conference calls, however, DoD came up with various excuses why the training ranges would be “incompatible” with current and future military operations. The ranges, DoD representatives stated, could not be near any munitions storage or interfere with existing flight paths.
Unfortunately, most if not all of the detailed information referenced by DoD has been kept from the general public and not included in the draft report for review and comment.
JGPO and CEQ have indicated that the details will be included in the final impact study. This means, of course, that any comments or criticism of DoD’s decision to exclude all DoD controlled property will be essentially meaningless.
During the conference calls, DoD representatives stated that they had received advice from “leadership” and members of the community not to place the firing ranges on the west coast of Guam because of the potential negative impact on recreational diving and fishing.
Of course, DoD does not seem overly concerned with the destruction of over 71 acres of reef at Apra Harbor. The destruction of that “unprecedented” amount of reef will significantly impact our environment, fishing, ocean-based tourism, and ocean-based recreational activities.
The possible impact on recreational diving was seen as a reason to totally exclude candidate sites on the western coast of Guam. Yet DoD’s preferred alternative calls for the possible condemnation of the Yigo racetrack, the only racetrack on Guam where people can gather to safely race their cars and or off-road vehicles.
DoD stressed the importance of public safety during its conference calls as another reason why it selected Pagat. This statement came literally moments after showing a map that displayed a rifle firing range located across the street from a cluster of homes on Jesse Dydasco Perez Street in Yigo. DoD’s preferred alternative also has the firing range for the MK 19 grenade launcher, which has a maximum range of over a mile and a half, placed right alongside the back road.
DoD identified Pagat as its preferred alternative last November. The closer one looks at the reasons DoD has made public, the stronger the sense that things are not what they seem.
The answer to the question “Why Pagat?” may not be found in the nine volumes of the draft impact study, or the 10 volumes of final impact report, but rather in the pages of a lease agreement.
Leevin Taitano Camacho
Pagat remains top option
Friday, 23 July 2010
by Janela Buhain
DESPITE protests from the activists, the final environmental impact study maintains Pagat as the site for the proposed firing range.
The military, however, is attempting to reach a compromise with the local community by promising to provide limited public access to the site.
At a press conference held at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa yesterday, Assistant Secretary Jackalyne Pfannenstiel said a commitment was made to ensure public accessibility to Pagat when the firing range is not in use. She reassured the community that the firing range project will not have a negative impact on Yigo’s ancient site.
Members of We Are Guahan, however, are not open to compromise. They will hold a demonstration at 2:30 p.m. in Pagat to stress the site’s importance to the local community and to warn against the environmental and cultural impact of having a military firing range built in the area.
Federal officials, who are currently on island, are scheduled to tour the site at around 3 p.m.
A bullet point handout outlining the changes made from the final draft states that no military training would occur below the cliff or within the boundaries of the historic Pagat site.
The final report also states that “an access plan will be developed with the input of Guam agencies and the public.”
We Are Guahan member Leevin Camacho said their mission is a “voice in opposition to the lack of exploring alternatives for the firing range.”
We Are Guahan organizer Moñeka Deoro said the organization is committed to protecting the area.
Deoro said putting a firing range in Pagat is an injustice to the people of Guam because it is used as ancestral land, which is rich in culture and wildlife.
Camacho said there was no evidence that an analysis was done for other sites. He said there seems to be a lack of transparency from federal officials regarding alternatives for a military firing range, particularly one within the military’s existing footprint.
During the press conference, Pfannenstiel said national officials are aware of the environmental and cultural impact the firing range could potentially have.
“The preferred alternative in the final EIS is that the Route 15 area will be confirmed,” Pfannenstiel said. “The bigger question is access. We are committed to work with the people of Guam to assure access and to improve access,” she added.
Federal officials made no commitment to eliminating land condemnation in their agenda. However, Pfannenstiel stressed that they are committed to “working with land owners to look for a win-win situation.”
The final impact report no longer includes Sasayan Valley among the alternative sites.
Senator Judi Guthertz said she appreciated DoD’s efforts to assure the public of continued public access to Pagat Village and promises to negotiate in good faith with landowners for additional property, but she noted they made no commitment not to use land condemnation for this purpose.
Other senators, however, questioned the sincerity of these promises, in light of past extremely tight limits on local access to sites such as the former Sumay village on Big Navy.