OIA praises study on possible inclusion of Rota in NPS system

Posted on Sep 15 2020

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WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of the Interior applauds the recent National Park Service announcement of preliminary results of a study that evaluates the prehistoric and historic resources as well as limestone forests on the island of Rota for possible designation as part of the National Park System.

The NPS announced on Au. 26 that it will conduct a series of virtual public meetings to share the study’s preliminary findings and to engage stakeholders and the public in discussions about several preliminary alternative concepts for the future.

“We applaud the National Park Service from the regional San Francisco office, assisted by Superintendent Barbara Alberti and her staff, in these efforts. We also applaud Rota Mayor [Efraim] Atalig and his team, including CNMI leaders and all stakeholders, for their continued support and ongoing efforts to ascertain whether these important historical, cultural, and natural resources on Rota will be deemed suitable for inclusion in the National Park System,” said Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech. “We encourage the public and especially the people of the CNMI to engage fully in these proceedings with the National Park Service.”

Margaret Everson, acting director of the National Park Service, said that NPS is pleased to share the preliminary findings and hear from the public their thoughts for how these special resources may be managed in the future. “Establishing a unit of the National Park System [on] Rota would require the support of the [CNMI] and Rota municipal governments and action by the U.S. Congress,” she said.

Following a visit to Guam in December 2019 when Domenech launched a workshop on World Heritage Opportunities Workshop for the insular areas, he then flew to the CNMI where he met with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and Atalig. While on Rota, Domenech visited many of the important sites that are included in the current study, including the archeological site that houses the largest latte stones found in the Mariana Islands and the limestone forest which has been identified in the NPS study as the most intact its kind across the entire United States and its territories.

Preliminary findings of the study, according to the National Park Service website, indicate that Rota is a special place with significant cultural and natural resources. The Chamorro archeological sites, the World War II Japanese defensive sites, and the ancient limestone forests have been deemed to be nationally significant and suitable for inclusion in the National Park System. The next steps are to engage with the community on several preliminary alternative concepts for the future. (PR)

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