The State Historic Preservation Office and the governor are on track to sign a new agreement with Joint Region Marianas this week regarding historic preservation amidst ongoing Navy training.
Public comment was accepted through Dec. 16, and after consistent concern, an expiration date was added to the document.
“I feel very good about it,” said acting State Historic Preservation Officer Carlotta Leon Guerrero. “I feel that the best way I could describe it: the last document, if I had to give it a grade, I would say the last the one that was in 2009, that was a D-plus. I think we brought it up to, before we even took these amendments, we brought it up to a B, and I feel very confident that it’s just that much better. The public comment just allowed us to enhance it.”
The office is working on revisions before the agreement heads to officials for signatures, she said. Joint Region Marianas, the governor and the State Historic Preservation office are expected to sign. The Guam Preservation Trust may as well, if its concerns are adequately addressed via revisions, Leon Guerrero said.
The document replaces the expired 2009 Programmatic Agreement. It outlines policies for the Guam State Historic Preservation Office and Joint Region Marianas as to how negative impacts on the island’s cultural and historic sites will be avoided or minimized during the Navy’s training and testing activities.
There are a total of 247 historic sites covered under the document. Of those, 83 sites are within military training sites and 164 sites are within 300 feet of a training or testing site, according to Leon Guerrero.
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The draft document released by the office earlier this month had no expiration date. Instead, it included a 30-day termination clause, which Leon Guerrero said would ensure Guam’s ability to negotiate, amend and best serve its interests.
“So much pushback came in during public comment,” Leon Guerrero said. “Probably every single person that commented touched on that.”
The amended document will be valid for five years, before both parties must return to the table to sign a new agreement. The 2009 agreement was valid for 10 years.
Other changes include:
- Joint Region Marianas agreed to a new amendment to update photographic documentation of historic sites to improve the record of certain sites, within six months;
- language defining a traditional cultural property was refined; and
- language was refined to note the activities covered under the agreement are for training and testing only.