Local and national historic preservation groups have retained the services of a mainland law firm to ensure the military follows the required environmental process if it creates a new firing range in the Pågat area of Mangilao.
The Guam Preservation Trust and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have retained the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, according to a written statement from the Guam trust.
The military plans to build a firing range close to the Pågat area, which contains the remnants of an ancient Chamorro village and a cave filled with fresh water. The military has stated the area won't be damaged by gunfire and the public will not lose access to the cave completely.
The Guam Preservation Trust is a nonprofit Guam public corporation with the goal of preserving Guam's culture and historic sites. The National Trust, which was created by Congress, earlier this year placed Pågat village on its annual list of the nation's 11 most endangered places.
Joe Quinata, chief program officer for the Guam Preservation Trust, yesterday said the law firm, which is working for free, is very experienced in the National Environmental Policy Act process and will review the final environmental impact statement for the Guam buildup, which is scheduled to be made public later this week, although the military has said the plans for the firing range remain unchanged.
The federal environmental law requires the federal government to take into account the environmental impact of its proposed actions and to consider reasonable alternatives to those actions.
There will be legal action if necessary, Quinata said.
Quinata said the law firm's involvement is being announced, in part, to let the community know "there is still some hope" for preservation of the Pågat site.
More details about the law firm and its role are scheduled to be discussed during a press conference 11 a.m. today at the governor's complex at Adelup.