Sunday, December 13, 2009

Agencies outline concerns with EIS

Agencies outline concerns with EIS

By Bernice Santiago • Pacific Sunday News • December 13, 2009

The public can work with Government of Guam agencies to review the draft Environmental Impact statement for the military buildup, before the comment period ends on Feb. 17.

The comment period is critical, said Vangie Lujan, administrator for the Guam Coastal Management Program, under the Bureau of Statistics and Plans. When residents submit written comments about their concerns, the Department of Defense is required by law to address them, she said.

Residents are welcome to visit the Guam Coastal Management Program office, on the third floor of the GCIC building, where a print version of the draft EIS is available to the public. GCMP staff can further explain the document itself, and help residents review the key issues that they're concerned with, whether it's road construction or the impact to the coral reefs, Lujan said.

Different local agencies introduced their roles and areas of jurisdiction in reviewing the draft EIS yesterday, during a Natural Resources Expo held at the Guam Premier Outlets. The expo was held by the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Governor's Civilian Military Task Force, according to a release from the Bureau of Statistics and Plans.

Dave Burdick, biologist from the Guam Coastal Management Program office, discussed the proposed Nuclear Aircraft Carrier deep-draft wharf and turning basin project. The project will affect coral reef in Apra Harbor, and the agency will be looking into both the direct and indirect impacts of the proposed dredging activities.
The office also will review the impact of population growth on Guam's natural resources, Burdick said. The island's population will grow by 79,000 people in 2015, before that number decreases to 33,600 people by 2020. An increase in harvesting and recreational use of natural resources likely will occur, Burdick said.

The office also will study the mitigation efforts proposed by the Department of Defense to replace lost ecosystem function, which is required under the federal Clean Water Act.

Biologist Jeffrey Quitugua said the Department of Agriculture's Division of Aquatics and Wildlife Resources will be looking into land habitat issues for species that DAWR hope to recover or bring back to Guam, such as the kingfisher, the Guam rail, and the Marianas fruit bat, as part of their review of the draft EIS.

The Guam Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the draft EIS while regulating growing activity from the private sector, as the private sector prepares for the buildup, said Jesse Cruz, environmental monitoring and analytical services administrator. Cruz's section will be reviewing the dredging deep-draft wharf, the terrestrial clearing for construction projects, and other natural resource issues, he said yesterday.

Lujan said another expo will be held in January, where agencies will present a more detailed analysis of the draft EIS to the public, along with their recommendations.
The aim of such outreach events is to develop a dialogue with the public, so that the concerns and comments of local government planners, scientists, and the general public inform each other, Burdick said.

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