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Guam senator questions dismissal of historic preservation officer

HAGÅTÑA — Sen. Therese Terlaje on Wednesday questioned the administration’s move to dismiss Guam’s historic preservation officer Lynda Aguon amid the acceleration of military buildup related construction on island.

Therese Terlaje

Aguon, who has been Guam’s state historic preservation officer, for almost two decades, received her walking papers on Tuesday. The Guam Federation of Teachers, the government workers’ union which represents Aguon’s case, speculated that the Department of Parks and Recreation’s decision to dismiss was in retaliation against a grievance she filed in April against one of her subordinates.

“I acknowledge that there are personnel actions pending, however, I am deeply troubled by this recent move by the administration to dismiss the state historic preservation officer in the midst of one of the largest construction projects in our recent history, including the bulldozing of 5,000 acres of limestone forest and numerous historic sites,” Terlaje said.

The senator said Guam is “in desperate need of persistent and loud voices pushing for historic preservation particularly as DOD continues to insist destruction is unavoidable.”

The administration has yet to name a new historic preservation officer.

Terlaje said Aguon has been one of Guam’s most vocal advocates for the protection of the island’s cultural and historical resources. She warned that replacing Aguon with someone who lacks experience in the field leaves Guam “vulnerable to further bulldozing of historic sites and leaves Guam voiceless during a critical period of potential harm to our culture and our environment.”

Last week Terlaje asked Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to seek a pause on the clearing of vegetation and construction of the Live Fire Training Range Complex at Northwest Field to give more time for the SHPO to evaluate plans for newly discovered historic artifacts in the project site.

The SHPO was notified of at least three more new discoveries of additional historic sites during the clearing of the forest in the proposed Known Distance Rifle Range area which is one of five proposed firing ranges at LFTRC.