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OIA commends study to consider sites on Rota for possible inclusion in U.S. National Park Service System

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WASHINGTON (U.S. Interior Department) —  U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech applauds the recent National Park Service announcement of preliminary results of a study that evaluates the prehistoric and historic resources as well as limestone forests on the island of Rota, located in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, for possible designation as part of the National Park System.

The NPS announced on August 26 that it will conduct a series of virtual public meetings to share the study’s preliminary findings and to engage stakeholders and the public in discussions about several preliminary alternative concepts for the future.

“We applaud the National Park Service from the regional San Francisco office, assisted by Superintendent Barbara Alberti and her staff, in these efforts. We also applaud Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig and his team, including CNMI leaders and all stakeholders for their continued support and ongoing efforts to ascertain whether these important historical, cultural, and natural resources on Rota will be deemed suitable for inclusion in the National Park System,” said Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Douglas W. Domenech.

“We encourage the public and especially the people of the CNMI to engage fully in these proceedings with the National Park Service,” he added.

“The National Park Service is pleased to share our preliminary findings and hear from the public their thoughts for how these special resources may be managed in the future,” said the acting director of the National Park Service, Margaret Everson. “Establishing a unit of the National Park System in Rota would require the support of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Rota Municipal governments and action by the United States Congress.”

Following a visit to Guam in December 2019 where Assistant Secretary Domenech launched a workshop on World Heritage Opportunities Workshop for the insular areas, he then flew to the CNMI where he met with Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres and Rota Mayor Efraim Manglona Atalig. While on Rota, he visited many of the important sites that are included in the current study, including the archeological site that houses the largest latte stones found in the Mariana Islands and the limestone forest which has been identified in the NPS study as the most intact its kind across the entire United States and its territories.

Preliminary findings of the study, according to the National Park Service website, indicate that Rota is a special place with significant cultural and natural resources. The Chamorro archeological sites, the World War II Japanese defensive sites, and the ancient limestone forests, the most intact found anywhere in the United States, have been deemed to be nationally significant and suitable for inclusion in the National Park System. The next steps are to engage with the community on several preliminary alternative concepts for the future.

The specific dates, times, and meeting information can be found on the NPS project website page and through the American Memorial Park Facebook page.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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