Guam – The reason that DOD pulled it’s plans for a Pagat firing range complex is because the programmatic agreement was not signed. This agreement outlines how DOD is to deal with historic artifacts and properties that it impacts as a result of the buildup. If signed it would have satisfied the requirements of section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
While DOD did allow for extensive public hearings and public input on the NEPA process it did not allow the same kind of input when it came to NHPA process. The NHPA is the National Historic Preservation Act. Section 106 of this act requires that DOD consult with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office and allow for public input on its plans for dealing with historic artifacts and properties that it impacts as a result of the buildup. DOD must satisfy this law before any construction can begin not just the Pagat range complex. Up until just last week groups like “We Are Guahan”, the Guam Boonie Stompers, Fuetsan Famalao’an the Chamorro Tribe and the Task Force on Decolonization were not allowed to participate in the consultation process. “We Are Guahan” member Leevin Camacho says the groups were eventually involved but by that time it was simply way too late. “That came Thursday and they wanted us to sign it that day and to send it back to the Department of Defense and that obviously did not happen,” said Camacho.
The five groups, the Guam legislature, and the Guam State Historic Preservation Office and even the National Trust for Historic Preservation are all opposed to signing this agreement because it included Pagat and it did not allow for public input. “What should have happened here, is from the beginning, day one, they should have known that there were gonna be historic properties involved or impacted by the buildup and they should have engaged the community,” said Camacho.
The military didn’t engage the community in this process and Camacho says they tried hard to get the Guam SHPO and then the five additional consulting parties to sign off on it anyway. “They have to actually engage us. Don’t tell us what your going to do. Engage us in discussion and lets figure out if it’s possible to put it somewhere here on this island at a minimum. Don’t tell us this is what we’ve decided, sign off on it which is what they’ve been trying to do with the programmatic agreement,” explained Camacho.
Camacho says until they allow the public to get involved the consulting parties and the Guam SHPO will not sign off on the programmatic agreement. He adds that now DOD will either have to begin holding public hearings on the programmatic agreement or handle each construction project on a case by case basis. That could put a serious wrench in DOD’s plans for buildup construction.