Details Surrounding Things Like Public Access Yet to be Determined
Guam – The Final SEIS for the Guam military buildup has been released but the Department of Defense and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are still ironing out the details of a Memorandum of Agreement that is needed in order to build a live fire training range at the Northwest field.
The preferred alternative for a live fire training range complex for marines is at the Northwest field. This range would sit above the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Ritidian Wildlife Refuge. This means it would impact things like access to the refuge and it would impact the refuge’s plans to release endangered native birds like the Micronesia Kingfisher or Sihek in Chamorro.
The release of the Final SEIS was delayed because of negotiations between the Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. DOD and Fish and Wildlife need to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding in order for the firing range to go forward.
DOD released the Final SEIS last week but Joint Guam Program Office Forward Director Commander Dan Schaan told PNC yesterday that DOD and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are still finalizing the details of their MOU.
The Final SEIS says that there will be direct impacts to public access of recreational resources within the Surface Danger Zone of the firing range. The restriction of public access to things like some Ritidian trails caves and other cultural resources “would be significant” and the FSEIS says no mitigation measures have been identified.
There will also be “restricted access to popular dive spots and fishing zones for the public when the ranges are being used” and “limitations on access to hiking and cave exploring as well.”
DOD is still working out the details of this access with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that “access restrictions to the Ritidian unit of the Guam NWR are consistent with the purposes for which the unit was established.”
However, the Department of Defense has agreed to protect and manage a significant amount of survival and recovery habitat for the Guam Micronesian Kingfisher. 5,234 acres to be exact and they have agreed to provide $2 million dollars per year to support management activities on the 5,234 acres provided that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines that it remains possible to recover the Kingfisher on Guam.
While many of the details of the MOU with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife and DOD are still being ironed out. The final Record of Decision on the military buildup is expected to be out sometime in August.