Local consulting parties are reviewing the U.S. Air Force’s findings of impact on historical landmarks of a planned divert airfield project on Saipan, Tinian, or on both islands.
The Air Force has asked for a deadline of Oct. 15, 2015, for the CNMI to respond to these findings, which are part of Sec. 106 consultation process of the National Historic Preservation Act. That law requires federal agencies to account for the effects of their proposed undertakings on historic sites.
The Air Force has set three options on the table for review. A modified Tinian alternative, a modified Saipan alternative, and a fairly new “hybrid” alternative, which was socialized among military and local leaders earlier this year.
The Air Force’s latest proposed findings were still circulating among consulting parties last week, after the Pacific Air Forces, under the U.S. Air Force, finalized their report on Aug. 14 and shared it among several parties and a local media contact.
“…The Air Force finds that the proposed action would [have] no direct adverse effect on contributing elements to the Aslito/Isley Field, of the Saipan Landing Beaches [a national historical landmark], Aslito/Isley Field, Marpi Point National Historic Landmark [NHL] or other historic properties on Saipan,” writes U.S. Air Force Col. Michael R. Cardoza.
“However, the USAF finds that certain proposed actions in the various alternatives could have an adverse effect on the American Administration-period West Field site on Tinian and possible indirect adverse effect on the setting and feeling of the Aslito/Isley Field National Historic District on Saipan.”
These sites are designated for their association with United States’ and Japan’s use of them during World War II.
Saipan Tribune learned there has been a push from within local consulting agencies to urge the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to request a Sec. 213 report from the National Park Service on the impacts of the divert project.
If the Advisory Council thinks it necessary, it can request a report from the National Park Service under the Department of the Interior for a detailed report on potential impacts to landmark properties.
As there are two major historic properties on Saipan and Tinian, all the cumulative effects—from the military’s separate live-fire project, to the divert airfield project—could be further considered.