Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Residents Testify Against Federal Land Condemnation

Residents Testify Against Federal Land Condemnation

Guam - Dozens of island residents from all walks of life showed up to testify in favor of Resolution 258 a resolution

Introduced by Senator Judi Guthertz to strongly oppose the condemnation of lands for use by the military.

Panel after panel of people spoke out today in favor of Resolution 258 and in opposition to the military's proposed taking of both government and private properties. Chamorro rights activist Danny "Pagat" Jackson said he felt the Chamorro people were "an endangered species in their own land."

In it's Draft EIS the military has proposed the possibility of taking over 2000 acres of additional property from the people of Guam for use as a firing range. One of the proposals calls for taking lands along the eastern shore of Guam in the Pagat area including the Marbo caves and Sasayan valley area. Today the Guam legislature heard from dozens of people both old and young alike.

Laura Nelson asked senators to consider her generation and give them the same opportunities and lifestyle their generation had been afforded as she said she knew that the military buildup would change the lives of all who live on Guam.

Some testified because they either owned or lived on property that the military is proposing to take. Others like businessman Henry Simpson testified because the proposed firing range would close down his Guam Raceway Park. The park is a popular attraction for auto, drag race, and offroad enthusiasts. Others testified because they have simply been opposed to the military buildup from the very beginning. Former Nacion Chamoru Magalahi Ben Garrido says he and the Chamoru Nation have been testifying against the buildup for years often in the face of ridicule and laughter. He said "Look where we're at now."

Even Superior court Judge Steven Unpingco testified in favor of the resolution citing among many reasons the environmental impacts the proposed firing range would have on the Sasayan valley. It's a valley Judge Unpingco says offers both recreational activities like hiking to the marbo caves and traditional fishing areas.

Unpigco questioned the reasoning behind the military's need for additional property considering the fact that they already own 40 thousand acres or 27 percent of Guam's land. Judge Unpingco even suggested that the military could use other areas like Pati point.

Unpingco also brought up Guam's borrowing capacity something that is limited by the total value of Govguam property. Guam will need this borrowing capacity in order to beef up it's infrastructure for the military buildup.

Written by :
Clynt Ridgell

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