Saturday, December 06, 2008

DOD Wants CLT Property

DoD eyeing Chamorro Land Trust property
By Clynt Ridgell

While most of the island is not a party to the specifics regarding the U.S. Department of Defense's plans to buildup the military on Guam, it's apparent now that the governor too has been left in the dark. In an interview with KUAM News Felix Camacho revealed a major decision being crafted without the input of Guam's highest elected leader.

What's even more disturbing is that this decision involves land.

Governor Camacho is making it clear that he and the people of Guam need a seat at the table when the feds plan the immense military buildup that will bring an estimated 40,000 new people to the island. "As decisions are made, we are simply advised of it not consultedm" he shared. One of these decisions that has sparked the governor to speak out is related to a very touchy subject on Guam.

He continued, "The question was asked will there be sufficient lands for this endeavor. They said, 'Absolutely, we have enough land in our inventory and within our footprint on Guam to make this a success'. I believe decisions are now being made that they need to acquire more land and this would have to be to accommodate the firing range."

The DoD and the Joint Guam Program Office officials have all said repeatedly that they would not need additional lands for the buildup the governor now says they are eyeing some Government of Guam property that is supposed to be used by the island's indigenous people.

"They would like to consolidate their property up north and have one contiguous operation we certainly have lands in between that that are Chamorro Land Trust lands," said Camacho.

The governor further says that he wants to protect the assets of the people, adding that giving additional land to the feds is something that shouldn't be done without first consulting the people. But it's not only the land issue that the governor has a problem with he's concerned about the lack of funding needed to beef up the island's infrastructure. "Guam does not have the resources nor do we have the capacity either financially or personally to build our infrastructure to the level that we must," he told KUAM News.

This need for a rapid buildup of infrastructure is due to the rapid buildup of the military one in which our population will also rapidly increase by over 20%. The governor says although the feds have instructed GovGuam to get with different federal agencies like the EPA, the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Transportation and others. Only one of them have offered a helping hand.

"We have gone to Office of Management and Budget; we have made our case we've requested for monies in 2010. I've not seen anything come out of it. In fact, the only agency that came to bat for us is the Department of the Interior, which requested roughly $168 million, but every other agency failed to do so."

The governor says he understands that this buildup may be the way that DoD operates, but he also says that if they want to maintain goodwill, Guam needs a voice. "We as an unincorporated territory with no voice and no vote in Congress would be first on the chopping block when it comes to budget," Camacho said. "So where is the support for Guam where is this commitment other than verbal?"

Camacho still believes that this move can be beneficial to Guam it's just a matter of getting the finances necessary to ensure that the island's people are not overburdened. "There's a change in administration. I'm hoping there will be a change in leadership. I think that JGPO, however well intentioned they, are doesn't have enough fire power to get this thing going," the governor concluded. "I don't believe they have enough resources committed to it because it is a major initiative it is a major undertaking and between the DoD and all the other agencies.

"They are going to have to get their act together."

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