Guam – Although the final decision won’t be made until a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is completed about a year from now, over the weekend the Navy released a technical report concluding that the Naval Magazine area is a “potentially reasonable alternative for a marine live firing range complex.” While the naval magazine area is a departure from the controversial Pagat site “We Are Guahan’s Leevin Camacho is still concerned.
The Navy released a technical report that was done to determine if a smaller Surface Danger Zone or SDZ would change previous conclusions on whether sites were reasonable alternatives for further consideration for a firing range complex for marines.
The report took a look at all the potential sites on Guam that could house a firing range complex but determined that only the naval magazine was worthy of a re-examination using what’s called probabilistic methodology. It’s a new method of determining where stray bullets may fly in a firing range. this method produces smaller SDZ’s thus requiring less land for a firing range. Originally DOD used an older method that created larger SDZ’s requiring more land for firing ranges. Under the old method DOD said a firing range could only fit at Pagat. After DOD was sued by, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Guam Preservation Trust, and We Are Guahan they decided to conduct a Supplemental EIS using the probabilistic method.
This report recommends that they only use this probabilistic method on the naval magazine to see if a firing range can fit there. “We Are Guahan’s” Leevin Camacho doesn’t understand why the Navy has ruled out all other potential sites. “Out of all the land I believe Andersen is 15 thousand acres almost twice as large as Naval Magazine and there’s not a single alternative that’s identified up at Andersen and that’s one of the things that was in this recent report is that some of the basis for not looking at Finegayan is that they would have to move military homes they would have to move antenna’s so it’s just kind of insulting to think that they are willing to take land from the Government of Guam or private land owners but they’re not willing to move homes or move antennas to put it on, within their own footprint,” said Camacho.
Camacho is concerned that even with naval magazine DOD will still need to acquire private property. “Despite owning more than one fourth of Guam, DOD still intends on acquiring more land there are up to 55 pieces of property in Agat, Santa Rita that DOD will still need in order to build this firing range complex down south,” said Camacho.
The report also notes that the naval magazine contains large areas of freshwater habitats, is mostly designated as overlay refuge lands and recovery habitat for Mariana Crow, Guam Micronesian Kingfisher, Marianas Fruit Bat and Guam Rail. It also has archaeological areas. “There are some sites that get dismissed because it’s a recovery habitat if you look at Pagat and Naval Magazine they’re both a recovery habitat for the same exact species but yet those two sites get moved forward while everything else gets eliminated,” said Camacho.
This report is not a final conclusion on the selection of a site for a firing range complex. That final determination won’t be made until the Navy completes it’s Supplemental EIS. JGPO Forward Capt. Daniel Cuff told PNC that a final decision is more than a year away.