Saturday, April 23, 2011
As someone who hikes every weekend and is interested in making sure people are informed about the possible negative impacts of the military buildup to Guam, I was particularly interested in the most recent edition of We Are Guahan's Grey Papers. These papers are just tidbits of information about the military buildup from the documents created by the military buildup. They are not opinion pieces, but simple bullet points, stark statements the majority of which come from documents that the Department of Defense itself creates. They are filled with things they have to say, have to write down and admit to, but would rather no one knew about, and that no one would put in the proper context.
For example, in the most recent Grey Paper, which deals with the amount of jungle which will be lost because of the proposed buildup, we see that the number is estimated at 2,000 acres. If you don't know the context, this might seem like either a lot or a little, but when you consider that this amounts to 10% of all the forests on Guam being destroyed, it is almost scary.
People already complain about Guam being a concrete jungle or at least moving in that direction and we can see through the sharing of this simple statistic, that the buildup will drastically help get us there.
We Are Guåhan has released its sixth installment of the Grey Papers, which is a compilation of information from the Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) and various federal and local agencies regarding the impacts of the proposed buildup on Guam’s jungle and wildlife. Governor Calvo’s signing of the Programmatic Agreement (“PA”) cleared the way for DoD to begin work on the 160+ projects related to the proposed buildup.
Some of the impacts of DoD’s proposed projects identified in the EIS include:
The destruction of over 2,000 acres of jungle, which includes 1,580 acres of limestone forest.
The destruction of over 1,300 acres of recovery habitat for the endangered fanihi, Mariana crow, and Micronesian kingfisher.
DoD’s proposed projects will destroy up to 10% of the total amount of forest cover on Guam.
“The total area of jungle that DoD plans on destroying is larger than the villages of Mongmong-Toto-Maite and Hagåtña combined,” says We Are Guåhan member Cara Flores-Mays. “The destruction of 10% of the forest cover on Guam is probably why Under Secretary Robert Work only talked about efficient energy when explaining DoD’s commitment to a ‘Green Guam.’”
One example of DoD’s proposed mitigation for the destruction of over 1,300 acres of recovery habitat for the endangered fanihi, Mariana crow and Micronesian kingfisher is to have a biologist go to construction sites one (1) week before a project begins. If the biologist sees one of these endangered species, DoD will postpone destroying the jungle in that area until the bat or bird has left.
“Some DoD officials may be hurt by us raising these issues,” continued Flores-Mays, “but the destruction of thousands of acres of jungle - as well as the impacts on our hospital, our schools and our homes - are important issues to our community. The people who call Guam home deserve honest answers to these questions, not rehearsed talking points.”
Download a copy of the Grey Paper and view a story on the expected impacts at: http://tinyurl.com/3fp8jnl
Si Yu'us Ma'ase,
We Are Guåhan