DoD Plans to “Acquire” More Land and Build Firing Range Complex at Pågat Village Remain Unchanged

by Leevin Camacho on Thursday, January 20, 2011

A press release by WAG sent out this morning to clear up any confusion about DoD’s plans:

Officials from the Department of Defense were on Guam for one day to pitch their plans to build a firing range complex at Pågat Village and the surrounding areas to island leaders. During their meetings, DoD officials confirmed that Pågat Village and the surrounding area remain its “preferred alternative” for the site of its 5 firing ranges.

Although DoD plans to “acquire” Pågat Village and the surrounding area – including the Guam International Raceway Park – DoD officials verbally promised “un-impeded access” to Pågat Village. This suggestion is similar to the one made by Undersecretary Jackalyn Pfannenstiel soon after DoD was sued by the Guam Preservation Trust, We Are Guåhan and the National Trust for Historic Preservation for not following the law.

For over a year, the people of Guam have opposed DoD’s plans to acquire any additional land or to build a firing range complex at Pågat Village. DoD’s continued plans of “acquiring” over 1,000 more acres of land and firing around and above Pågat Village do not address these concerns. “Un-impeded access” to Pågat Village was never the issue.

“The messengers may change, but the message remains the same: DoD plans on taking Pågat,” says We Are Guåhan member Cara Flores-Mays. “Pågat, and what it represents, is worth more to our island than vague promises of returning land that was taken from our people decades ago.”

Responding to DoD’s proposal is Governor Calvo’s first opportunity to fulfill his promise to the people of Guam that he will not abandon Pågat, and that the Calvo Tenorio administration will not agree to DoD expanding beyond its current footprint.

Governor Calvo ran on the promise that Pågat is not for sale. This means that he would never allow DoD to fire bullets over or around the graves of our ancestors. This means that Pågat will not be traded to DoD in exchange for the return of thousands of acres of land DoD currently owns but does not use, or a promise to ask Congress for money to pay for a museum and cultural center.

“Machine guns being fired overhead, and grenades blowing up in the distance, are unacceptable impacts on Pågat Village and the people living in the surrounding area,” says Flores-Mays. “We Are Guåhan will not give up on Pågat.”

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