Worried over habitats, Guam residents oppose US Army's planned firing range
Hagnata (Guam), August 30: Worried over habitats and cultural artifacts, Guam residents protested in front of the governor's office against the US military's plan for a new live-fire range.
The military announced last week that it awarded Black Construction Corporation a USD 78 million contract to build a firing range on land that the community says is one of the last pristine places on the US territory.
Dozens of protesters yesterday held signs saying, "Not your target practice" and "Death by firing range," the Pacific Daily News reported.
The range is being built for incoming Marines. One of its surface danger zones is near Ritidian, an area that a local group called Prutehi Litekyan is fighting to protect.
The group wants the land to remain untouched to safeguard cultural and historical artifacts throughout the area. It also argues that the firing range complex will disrupt the habitat of some of Guam's native species.
The range can't be built without restoration plans, according to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Steps will be taken to minimize harm to the environment around the firing ranges, including the handling of cultural artifacts, the command said.
"This deliberate focus on protection and restoration is consistent with our commitment to the One Guam and Green Guam pillars set forth by the Secretary of the Navy in the Marine Corps relocation to Guam," Command Capt. Stephanie Jones said.
Clarissa Torres, 30, one of the protesters, says "If you lose a part of your culture, whether it's land or speech, there's a disconnect from the place that you're from."
She further said that the firing ranges could affect efforts to maintain Guam's ancient culture of healing because it could take away the plant medicine that healers use.