10 Sep 2013
- By Junhan B. Todeno - firstname.lastname@example.org - Variety News Staff
INDIVIDUALS and organizations should take an active role in the Section 106 review process to express their sentiments on the military’s proposal to establishing training areas in the CNMI, “Save Pagan Island” advocate Jerome Aldan said yesterday.
“Any individual, business owner, or member of a neighborhood association, preservation group, or other environmental or social organization should participate in Section 106 consultation process as a consulting party,” he added.
The U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Forces Pacific has initiated a National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation regarding a proposal by the military to establish a series of ranges and training areas within the CNMI, particularly on Pagan and within the military lease area on Tinian.
The Section 106 consultation addresses the potential effects of the proposal on “historic properties” such as archaeological and historic sites and traditional cultural properties that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
A program manager of the Northern Islands mayor’s office, Aldan said if a project may alter characteristics that qualify a specific property for inclusion in the National Register in a manner that would diminish the integrity of the property, that project is considered to have an adverse effect.
“Integrity is the ability of a property to convey its significance, based on its location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association,” Aldan said.
Based on the advisory council on historic preservation, he added, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 is crucial to that program because it requires consideration of historic preservation in the multitude of projects with federal involvement that take place across the nation every day.
The Section 106 review will not address concern on endangered species, marine life, and other natural resources, boating, diving, fishing, hunting, beach access, recreation, cattle ranching, jobs, real estate, according to the advisory council, as such topics are being addressed in the CNMI Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement.
Aldan said their group submitted their comments to the Department of Defense during the scoping meeting,
“It is vital to ensure that DoD consider all reasonable alternatives in the draft EIS, not just alternatives identified in scoping documents,” he said.
He said DoD is considering one option for unit-level training on Tinian, and it is also considering one option for combined-level training on Pagan.
“This action on its face violates the letter and intent of the National Environmental Policy Act,” he added.
Aldan said DoD eliminated alternatives and limited alternatives to pre-selected options rather than using the scoping process to determine what alternatives should appear in the draft EIS.
DoD, he said, should consider all reasonable alternatives, not just alternatives that it has pre-selected through the application of criteria without any detailed public information in the draft EIS.
Aldan said DoD’s proposed action will have a significant impact on marine life, wildlife and coral on Pagan.
The comments submitted by the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources on April 26, 2013 show that the proposed actions on Tinian and Pagan would have a huge impact on corals and fishes, he said.
Aldan said the anticipated impact on the Marianas region would be amplified by the existing military training that is part of the Military Intelligence Readiness Command, as well as the ongoing training on Guam.
In the draft EIS, he said DoD should look into the significant adverse impacts the proposed actions would have specifically on Tinian and Pagan in addition to the cumulative impacts that such actions would have regionally on native plants and animals.
“DoD’s proposed actions on Pagan will do significant and irreparable harm to the indigenous people. DOD’s description of Pagan being ‘uninhabited’ is disingenuous. Pagan is not ‘uninhabited’ — it is waiting for its people to return,” he said.
Moreover, he said the proposed action would displace the indigenous people of Pagan from their homes, in violation of CNMI laws such as Public Laws 2-13, 14-66, 16-50, and 18-98 among other laws enacted by the CNMI government consistent with Northern Islands Mayor Tobias Aldan’s resettlement and redevelopment objectives on the impending return of the residents to the “Northern Frontier.”
“Just as Tinian was eliminated entirely based of the fact that the island is inhabited, so too must Pagan be eliminated for the same reason,” Jerome Aldan said.
Variety was unable to get a comment from DoD.
The Naval Facilities Engineering Command is also encouraging group and individuals to participate in the Section 106 review as a party.
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