Dededo resident Tom Alger expresses his concerns on the military’s plans to build a live-fire training range that may affect the Guam National Wildlife Refuge – Ritidian Unit.
Rick Cruz & Shawn Raymundo/PDN
Military buildup director still confident in relocation projects
Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian on Tuesday will hold a peaceful protest to reaffirm its opposition against the military’s live-fire training range complex.
The $78 million project, slated to be at Northwest Field in Andersen Air Force Base, near Ritidian, is part of the relocation of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, which is expected to start around 2025.
The relocation projects are designed to enhance defense efforts and restructure U.S. armed forces in the Asia-Pacific region. However, the military buildup has been contested by members of the public since it was first announced more than a decade ago.
Prutehi Litekyan resists the construction of the firing range complex, stating it will cause destruction to some of Guam’s most historic sites. The impacted lands hold artifacts scattered across ancient villages in the north, and serve as habitats for native species, including Guam’s only adult Serianthes nelsonii, or hayun lågu. The military was mandated by the Department of Defense to create conservation and mitigation plans to protect these species and properties.
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The group doesn’t have the power to stop the project’s construction, but its members are reaching out to those who do. From 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., the group will congregate in front of the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex at Adelup to call on local leaders to do what they can to halt the project.
The firing range complex includes the design and construction of four, live-fire training ranges, along with an administration building, structures for communication and surveillance and a gate facility to manage entry into the complex, according to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific.
Last week, NAVFAC awarded the design and construction contract to Black Construction Corp.
More: Contract for Marine Corps base construction awarded
Buildup director still confident
Robert Crisostomo, director of the Military Buildup Office and special assistant to Gov. Eddie Calvo, on Monday said he remains confident with the way projects are moving along.
Crisostomo works closely with Guam’s State Historic Preservation Office to ensure historical properties on federal land are either untouched or mitigated safely. Crisostomo said he supports the office’s decisions so far with regard to the relocation projects.
“Moving forward, if any of the construction starts and we find unrealized artifacts, the project will stop until mitigation efforts are done,” Crisostomo said. A repository for such artifacts, outlined as one of the military buildup projects, is still in its planning phase, he said.
More: Senators updated on military firing ranges
Agat resident Siobhon McManus will be attending the peaceful protest for several reasons, one of which is family.
“My late grandpa, Jose Flores, was from Litekyan. He used to tell me stories of him as a little boy playing on those beaches where fishermen and salt harvesters made their living,” she said. McManus, 22, said her grandfather’s family was displaced after World War II and didn’t receive compensation.
“I’m protesting on behalf of a patriotic people whose love for their country has been exploited and defiled by an institution that does not and has never truly cared for the well-being of those who call Guam home,” McManus said.
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Despite news of last week’s contract awarding, Prutehi Litekyan spokeswoman Sabina Perez said she still is hopeful there is enough time for intervention. The protest is meant to gain visibility among local leaders and to remind Gov. Calvo that the group is waiting on his response to a prior meeting they held.
Prutehi Litekyan in July, met with the governor and discussed a proposed executive order to halt the construction of the firing ranges. The group is waiting for the governor’s response and a possible follow-up meeting to discuss the executive order.
Crisostomo, of the buildup office, said while there hasn’t been a set date, the governor hopes to meet again with the group by the end of September.
“We’re still sifting through concerns that they have submitted, along with the executive order they have provided,” Crisostomo said.
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