CNMI public lands pushing for Pagan resettlement

Pagan Island (File photo from Save Pagan Island)

After announcing agricultural homesteading opportunities in Pagan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the government’s Department of Public Lands said they have been actively surveying parcels of land in the northern part of the island as well as Tinian and Rota.

This is the first time in CNMI history that agricultural homestead lots on Pagan island are available for distribution, according to DPL. For quite some time, the island has been at the center of controversy over the U.S. military’s plans to use parts of the island to conduct training and to build a live-fire artillery range.

Back in 2014, the CNMI House of Representatives passed a bill compelling the Department of Public Lands to grant homestead permits for residents wanting to relocate to Pagan and the other northern islands. An eruption of Mt. Pagan in 1981, forced the evacuation of residents out of the island.

Earlier this month, the public land department announced that applications for agricultural homesteads on Pagan are now available.

Governor Ralph DLG. Torres said the announcement marks a historic step for public lands and the community. “We look forward to the issuance date and seeing residents return to their ancestral lands,” he said.

Aside from Pagan, the department, also announced in their social media post that they have started surveying agricultural parcels in Tinian and Rota.

Acting secretary of public lands Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo said that DPL is making plans to schedule the distribution date for April after receiving applications.

There are a total of 88 agricultural homestead lots, consisting of 5,000 square meters each lot, according to the department.  In 2017, surveyor’s under the department’s planning Division went to Pagan to install monuments on each of the lots. After the survey, the lots were parceled, which totaled to 88 agricultural homestead lots.

“DPL is very excited to issue out these agricultural homestead lots,” Teregeyo said. She said that this is the first step in getting Pagan resettled.  Public land’s next goal would be to issue village homestead lots, according to Teregeyo.