The National Park Service is now reviewing the comments they received in the meetings and comment period for the Rota Special Resource Study in the fall of 2020.
In a mass email, NPS said they are now going over all the public comments in order to improve the accuracy of the preliminary findings and further refine the management concepts for the plan to have NPS manage the unique natural and cultural resources of Rota.
As directed by the U.S. Congress, at the request of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), NPS looking at the suitability and feasibility of designating the area as a unit of the national park system.
In mid-September 2020, NPS held public and agency meetings to present the preliminary study findings and alternative concepts. Representatives from the CNMI governor’s office, legislature, and agencies, and the Rota Mayor’s Office participated in agency meetings. Approximately 100 people attended the online public meetings. The CNMI Indigenous Affairs Office also arranged meetings on Rota that were held in person and online. Another 50 written comments were received through the project website and email.
Some of the types of comments received:
• People overwhelmingly agree that the Chamorro sites are special, significant, and should be protected.
• There is a strong desire to protect the livelihoods of Rota’s people today and for future generations, which includes continued subsistence and traditional and cultural uses.
• Most people in the CNMI and Rota want to make sure they have a say in the process and decision-making related to a potential national park unit designation of their lands and heritage.
• There are concerns and questions about what federal laws, policies, and regulations would come with a national park unit designation.
• Some people think the areas suggested for a national historical park, national monument, or national preserve encompass too much of Rota’s lands.
• Of those people who stated a preference for a management concept, most prefer either no action or a limited national park unit designation, with some additional conditions.
• Many people prefer strong local involvement or less extensive federal involvement.
• There were many inquiries about cooperative management-what would be the roles and responsibilities of local people, CNMI and Rota governments, and the federal government? How would cooperative management work?
• Commenters are interested in understanding the impacts of a national park designation on the local economy.
• There is concern about the accuracy of land ownership data and boundaries.
• Some people want more information and engagement related to the study to ensure that the study is credible and that the recommendations are well-informed.
“NPS would like to thank everyone who participated We greatly appreciate your time in sharing your opinions, concerns, and ideas with us. …Thank you for the time you have spent engaging in this study and sharing your thoughts with us. The island of Rota is truly a very special place,” said the NPS mass email.
For more information, visit the Rota Special Resource Study website to stay up-to-date on the study. Recordings of the public meetings, frequently asked questions, Newsletter #2, and the presentation used during the public meetings are all available at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/rotastudy. (PR)