Range may take civilian land
By Steve Limtiaco • Pacific Sunday News • November 22, 2009
The military has scrapped a 2006 proposal to build a new firing range in the Finegayan area of Dededo -- which would have created a danger zone extending over popular fishing and recreational areas -- and instead wants to build a firing range on the shoreline across from Andersen South, in Mangilao.
Creating the new firing range would mean condemning or leasing 928 acres of non-military land, including public land currently identified for a land exchange with Tiyan ancestral landowners. The landowners in June asked for the Mangilao land as compensation for the government's continued use of their ancestral land in Tiyan, for the airport and related facilities.
A spokesman for those landowners yesterday said they are willing to lease the Mangilao land to the military for the firing range.
The military yesterday released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the military buildup, which provides a blueprint for increased military activity on Guam and the possible impact of those activities.
According to the statement, the proposed new firing range would involve the use of live hand grenades and machine guns, and might require relocating a 1.7-mile stretch of Route 15 to the north. A new access road to the firing range would be built parallel to Route 15.
The site would include a new pistol range because an existing pistol range at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station does not meet the requirements for Marine Corps pistol qualification training, according to the statement.
The total area of the range complex, depending on configuration, could be as large as 1,680 acres, according to the draft environmental statement.
The Tiyan ancestral landowners do not have title to the Mangilao land, but a public hearing is scheduled Dec. 1 for Bill 278, which would delineate the properties to be exchanged with landowners.
"We're trying to get it together so we lease to them," said Benny Crawford, chairman of the Tiyan Taskforce, which in June identified 976 acres of public to be transferred to a new Tiyan landowners trust. Of that land, 395 acres is the "Marbo Base Command" across from Andersen South, which is part of the proposed firing range.
"We might as well negotiate a lease because they're going to take it anyway," Crawford said. He said Tiyan landowners started considering the Mangilao property for the land exchange about two years ago.
"We're looking forward to working with the federal government," he said.