Before opening the floodgates to public opinion on her resolution, which requests the governor to seek a pause on clearing and construction on Live Fire Training Range Complex (LFTRC) sites, Vice Speaker Telena Nelson first clarified that the effort is not to demonstrate senators’ stance on the proposed military buildup, but rather to address the standing policies and laws that regulate the construction of the firing range.
However, among many other concerns, one, in particular, seemed to take precedence — the effects of the military build-up on Guam. A worry so great that many who testified appeared to have wanted more than just a pause, instead, many asked for a complete halt to the military buildup.
Testimony after testimony, a long list of concerns were presented by various stakeholders. Concerns that ranged from the 30-foot radius of the enclosure surrounding the Serianthes Nelsonii tree, the only seed-bearing tree on Guam and its seedlings, to the impacts the continued clearing and construction of LFTRC sites would have on the environment.
The strain on resources outside of military base fences was also thrown into the conversation. As highlighted by Dr. Lysa Linda Natividad, president of the Guam Coalition for Peace and Justice, the buildup would impact Guam’s societal makeup, bringing an influx of not just military personnel and their families, but a foreign labor force necessary for Guam to “build up” and their families.
The concern in this population shift is the additional strain this particular group would have on the economy, infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other services they do not have access to on base.
In addition, environmental impacts on the limestone forests and endangered flora and fauna maintain their ranking spot in the list of concerns voiced by the public.
At the forefront of the environmental impact argument stands the lone adult Hagun Layu, that still lacks the genetic study that would clearly determine the genetic makeup of Guam’s fire tree apart from the other trees throughout the Pacific.