USMC: Section 106 consultation meetings to protect resources

Parties for the Section 106 consultation met yesterday at the Office on Aging conference room in China Town. The purpose of the meeting, the second after the group also held a separate discussion on Tinian on Monday, is to identify both the historic and traditional culture resources in the CNMI.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of “their undertakings on historic properties and afford the advisory council on historic preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment.”

Hawaii-based United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific operations and training expert Chris Harris said there would be a series of consultations where they would discuss how to protect, minimize, and mitigate any harm to historical and traditional resources.

“This is a candid situation where we are making sure we would properly identify everything that is important and how to mitigate any harm to these cultural properties,” Harris told Saipan Tribune.

He added they have not held consultations in two years and they plan to have a series of meetings, hopefully every month.

Harris said Section 106 consultations had nothing to do and is separate with the 902 Talks and discussions on the military. “Any type of proposed action we have to consult, a regulatory consultation of Section 106 to make sure we meet the requirements.”

“Over the course [of the meetings], we’re going to have an agreement with the CNMI [Historic Preservation Office]. Basically, we will agree on how are we going to protect the resources identified as culturally and significantly important,” said Harris.

He added that the two meetings, on Tinian and Saipan, are the start of a series of consultations. “The two meetings are to identify the people that have the knowledge on the background of historical and cultural sites. This is to make them a consultant and have them part of the group.”

‘No to CJMT’

Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas, meanwhile, said he remains opposed to the proposed activities under the Commonwealth Joint Military Training-Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

San Nicolas said he welcome any federal agency to Tinian but it does not mean that he is endorsing the proposed CJMT. “I stand by the comments I submitted in 2015 as well as my remarks in the 902 meetings in Washington, D.C. and in Honolulu, Hawaii.”

“I join the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, and CNMI agencies in opposing the proposed CJMT.”

He added the U.S. Department of Defense received more than 28,000 comments most of which oppose to the proposed CJMT. “It appears to me that they are still committed to pursuing high hazard impact live-fire training on Tinian.”

“The people of Tinian remain steadfast in our opposition to CJMT. Moreover, regardless of whether Section 106, NEPA or 902 for that matter, results in an amended version of the CJMT, the people of Tinian reserve the right to criticize or even oppose any amended version of the CJMT proposal.”

San Nicolas said the DoD seemed determined to move forward with their plans despite the Tinian community’s opposition. “It seems clear to me that despite our community’s vehement objections to activities which will adversely impact the cultural, physical, and social landscape of our island, DoD is intent on moving forward with their plans.”

“Their plans to use live fire training on Tinian. As I have stated many times before, these plans are entirely unacceptable and will continue to be unacceptable for as long as certain components are not completely taken off the table,” said San Nicolas.

“Of primary concern is the high hazard impact and live fire training activities which to [the Tinian] island community is non-negotiable.”

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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