Sunday, December 13, 2009

Agencies comment on proposed buildup plans

Agencies comment on proposed buildup plans

Posted: Dec 12, 2009 1:55 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2009 1:58 PM

by Michele Catahay

Guam - It's clear that various government agencies continue to review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. In fact, the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Governor's Civilian Military Task Force conducted a Natural Resources Expo today at the Guam Premier Outlets.

A Natural Resources Expo highlighted issues and concerns when it comes to the DEIS for Guam. The event is one of several planned as part of an effort to educate the public on the issues related to the impacts of Guam's natural resources as a result of the military buildup. Guam Coastal Management Program Administrator Evangeline Lujan says while they're still in the process of reviewing the Draft EIS, she says it's critical to begin educating the public about it.

"Some of the issues we look at are the coral reefs and the impacts to the ecosystem; we look at our terrestrial ecosystem and the habitat that will be lost. We look at invasive species. There's a myriad of things that we are reviewing," she said.

Biologist at the Division of Aquatics and Wildlife Resources at the Department of Agriculture Brent Tibbats says his greatest concern is the impacts on the marine environment and resources. One particular issue is the proposed dredging at Apra Harbor to accommodate a wharf berthing facility.

He said, "Where the dredging is going to be taking place is in areas where fishing occurs, where recreation activity occurs - banana boating, SCUBA diving and where some research activities are going on. We have some marine research going on as well. Some of these areas are going to be directly impacted and will dredged and removed."

He says in addition, the increase in sedimentation is going to greatly impact our coral reefs not only near Apra Harbor, but also areas in the north. "This is going to be one of the largest dredging projects involving coral reefs anywhere in the U.S. It's unavoidable. It's going to be impact. The hope is for us to minimize the amount of impact and maximize the amount of mitigation that is done to compensate Guam for that," Tibbats added.

He says they will also be looking into the impact of runoff from construction or potential fuel chemical spills that could occur as a result of the buildup.

In the meantime, another Government of Guam agency concerned about the increase in construction around the island is the Guam Historic Preservation Office. Historian Tony Ramirez says with plans for construction around the island, cultural resources may diminish. "Our agency covers a lot of areas because we cover 4,000 years of Guam's history and different timelines and these historical timelines are within the federal jurisdictions and also some of the areas that they're thinking of using for the buildup," she said.

Island residents have until February to submit written testimony on the Draft EIS.

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