SHPO calls for temporary halt on further military construction

Photo shows artifacts removed from historic sites taken by the Office of Senator Therese Terlaje during a May 23,2019 visit to Finegayan / NCTS area.

Based on new and substantial archaeological findings observed during the grading and clearing of four firing ranges at Northwest Field, Guam State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) Patrick Lujan has invoked Stipulation XIII of the 2011 Programmatic Agreement to object to the 2015 Training Range Review and Analysis (TRRA) document for the Live Fire Training Range Complex proposed at Northwest Field.

The SHPO is calling for greater, more comprehensive archaeological surveys to be completed before work can begin on the final phase of the project. His assertion is based on new archeological findings—ancestral remains unanticipated by the original review process.

In a letter to Rear Admiral Menoni, the SHPO states, “the numerous findings of historical sites and human remains found at both [MILCON P-715 Known Distance Ranges] and [Camp Blaz] can only confirm the deficiencies of the TRRA. Hence, I am advising [Joint Region Marianas] to further collect information at P-735 prior to the signing of any contracts for any construction associated with P-735. This should eliminate any potential conflicts and the destruction of historic properties.”

Unlike the previous four firing range sites, the site designated for the MILCON P-735 Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range (P-735) has yet to be graded and cleared of forest and vegetation. During the 45-day consultation period between the Navy and the SHPO, the Navy will not be allowed to contract any work on the fifth firing range.

“A responsible military buildup must be based on an effective working partnership with the federal government at all stages of the process. The invocation of Stipulation XIII ensures that this process is done correctly to address all concerns raised by the SHPO at this site and all other construction sites,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “The buildup needs to be done at a pace that benefits our people, and we must be our own advocates.”

As part of a resolution, the SHPO proposes establishing a site-specific preconstruction archaeological investigation plan for P-735, to include features, isolated objects, and other relevant archaeological data. Signatories, Invited Signatories, and Concurring Parties must agree and sign off on a proposed resolution within a 45-day consultation period for work to proceed. If an agreement is not reached, the matter will be referred to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, consistent with Stipulation XIII.

Unrelated federal and defense projects will not be affected by this temporary pause.

(Office of the Governor news release)