New and ‘improved’ Programmatic Agreement up for signing this week

Acting State Historic Preservation Officer Carlotta Leon Guerrero (PNC file photo)

A new programmatic agreement between the government of Guam and Joint Region Marianas is slated to be signed later this week.

Acting State Historic Preservation Officer Carlotta Leon Guerrero says it’s an improvement over the previous agreement that expired last year.

Leon Guerrero told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo Monday morning that lessons learned in the 10 years since the previous programmatic agreement went into effect have helped improve the current version.

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“What we did to it, working with Patrick Lujan, the State Historic Preservation Officer, I’m just taking his place for a while — and our attorney, Jessica Toft at the Attorney General’s Office and our different counterparts within Joint Region Marianas … you just go in and start arm wrestling. What’s working, what’s not, what is the new information that we’re asking for, how will we use that information when we get it, all of that was thrown on the table,” Leon Guerrero said.

Leon Guerrero said although some input received during the public comment period — such as calls to end the buildup completely — were unactionable, many made it into amendments to the agreement.

She said she found the military to be well-intentioned and earnest in their desire to work with GovGuam.

One aspect that was important to the governor was that local traditional knowledge not be ignored in the decision-making process.

I had many discussions with the governor and the lieutenant governor throughout this process on what was important to them and how to insert that into the process. They felt very strongly that we want to put more of the people that we think are traditional subject matter experts. The way the agreement was written before, pretty much you had to be a Secretary of the Interior-qualified archeologist to have a role in the decisions on how things can be affected by the training and testing,” Leon Guerrero said.

She added: “We would like to have suruhanus and more of our traditional subject matter experts also to have a role. That was very important to the governor.”