Guam senators, military leaders visit endangered species

ASAN, Guam—Guam’s elected and military leaders continued their collaboration last week with a joint visit to the site of the Serianthes nelsonii at Northwest Field where natural resources preservation work is ongoing.

Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, commander of Joint Region Marianas, at the request of Sen. Tina Muna Barnes, speaker of the 35th Guam Legislature, led a group of lawmakers on an informative tour that culminated in a visit to the endangered Serianthes nelsonii tree.  

“We share the concerns and interest of our island community in respectful and lawful management of our limited cultural and natural resources on the island,” said Chatfield. “Our actions continue to demonstrate that we have followed federal law throughout the course of our efforts, complied with all provisions that were developed to ensure preservation of Guam’s rich cultural and natural resources, and maintained open and transparent dialogue with the community.”  

As part of the tour it was clarified that the scheduled start of construction for the multi-purpose machine gun range is in the spring of 2020. 

The admiral explained the location of the tree optimizes protection from proposed activity at Northwest Field.  “I believe our mutual objective has been met by the change in the project design to permanently relocate the range sufficiently away from the tree, its saplings and is in compliance with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife approved forest buffer zone,” said Chatfield.  

Al Borja, environmental director for Marine Corps Activity Guam and the future Marine Corps Base, was happy to host the senators so they could see first-hand the conservation efforts being taken.

“We are pleased by the interest of our elected officials in the military’s efforts to balance construction of the new Marine Corps Base with forest preservation and enhancement,” Borja said. 

“This is a tremendous win for the entire island of Guam that we are investing in propagating growth of endangered plant species in this area of the island, which includes but is not limited to, the Serianthes nelsonii tree and its species.”

Continuing themes of collaboration, communication and transparency were on display last Friday. 

“The Navy and Marine Corps are engaged in open and transparent dialogue with local leaders throughout this process, and are committed to close collaboration with the government of Guam and regulatory partners in environmental and construction activities for the new Marine Corps Base,” Chatfield said. (PR)

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