Informational Briefing to Focus on Litekyan (Ritidian) Landowners, and Historical, Cultural and Environmental Issues

The Committee on Culture and Justice will convene an informational briefing on Thursday, September 7, 2017 at 4 p.m. at the Guam Legislature Public Hearing Room, at the Guam Congress Building in Hagåtña.

The intent of the informational briefing is to receive reports of the status and the historical, cultural, and environmental impacts of the Live-Fire Training Range Complex, and the potential implications for the original landowners of Ritidian/Litekyan and the surrounding areas.

Agenda items include:
*Reports from government agencies: Guam State Historic Preservation Office, Guam Department of Agriculture, Guam Coastal Management Program, Governor’s Military Buildup Office
*Testimony from Guam Fishermen’s Coop Association
*Testimony from Original Ritidian/Litekyan Landowners

Background on Ritidian/Litekyan homelands:
– After World War II, the U.S. military condemned via eminent domain, privately held lands from families in Ritidian/Litekyan and the surrounding areas. Families were forced to relocate despite objections and without just compensation. Ritidian was established as a military area that restricted civilian access.

– After decades, the military deemed the Ritidian lands “excess”, however, the return of the excess lands to the government of Guam was thwarted by the U.S. Congress’ transfer of those lands to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2000. Ritidian lands have since been held in trust by the USFWS and used as a wildlife refuge and cultural center.

The 22nd, 23rd, and 30th Guam Legislatures enacted:
– PL 22-63, declaring that no wildlife refuge be established in Guam unless approved and enacted under Guam law

– PL 22-111 challenged the designation of the Ritidian lands as a Critical Habitat or Wildlife Refuge.

– PL 23-24 signed by acting Governor Madeleine Z. Bordallo, prohibited the Government of Guam from entering into any cooperative agreement with any U.S. federal government agency in regard to the Wildlife Refuge at Ritidian. The law stated, “it is the policy of the government of Guam to seek the termination of federal ownership of real property in Northern Guam commonly known as the “Wildlife Refuge” and to seek the transfer of those lands from the control of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service to local authority for whatever purposes deemed appropriate by local authority, including the possible return to original land owners.”

– Resolution 258-30 opposing land condemnation by the federal government for the purposes of the training ranges, reminding Congress that “the final insult to the people of Guam came when the 385 acres of the former Naval Facility, Guam at Ritidian Point was declared excess in the 1990’s and was grabbed quietly, without fanfare or advance notice by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rather than being returned to the original land owners via the Government of Guam.”

Contrary to past Guam Legislative efforts to support the Ritidian homelands, in December 2014,Congress enacted H.R. 4402, allowing DoD use of Ritidian as a Surface Danger Zone for its Live-Fire Training Ranges.

The informational briefing will broadcast on local television, GTA Channel 21, Docomo Channel 117/60.4 and stream online via I Liheslaturan Guåhan’s live feed. If written testimonies are to be presented at the informational briefing, the Committee requests that copies be submitted prior to the informational briefing date and should be addressed to Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje. Testimonies may be submitted via hand delivery to the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje at the Guam Congress Building, 163 Chalan Santo Papa, Hagåtña, Guam; at the Protocol Office of the Guam Congress Building, 163 Chalan Santo Papa, Hagåtña, Guam 96910; or via email to In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals requiring special accommodations or services should contact the Office of Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje, 163 Chalan Santo Papa, at (671) 472-3586 or by sending an email to

We look forward to your attendance and participation.
Si Yu’os Ma’åse.

Vice Speaker Terlaje Calls for Defense of Guam’s Heritage and Natural Resources in Response to Announced Contract for Live-Fire Training Range Complex

FOR IMMEDIATE NEWS RELEASE (August 25, 2017 – Hagåtña) – In response to the $78M contract awarded for the Live-Fire Training Range Complex at Northwest Field, Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje (D-Yoña), Chairperson for the Committee on Culture and Justice, expressed continued urgency to protect Guam’s resources:

“No amount of money can compensate for the permanent destruction, loss of access, and other adverse impacts to Guam’s historic sites, 187 acres of limestone forests, endangered species, and fishing areas that are part of this particular live-fire training range project. It is the 4000-year-old unique heritage of the Chamoru people that is under attack and these resources will be lost to future generations. The Department of Defense has not kept its promises to avoid these adverse impacts to Guam and in fact continues to expand its control over lands and waters of Guam and the Marianas. I implore the Governor to explore any and all alternatives and to seek appropriate federal audience to avoid the aforementioned adverse impacts and defend our lands and invaluable resources,” Terlaje stated.

Military to Conduct Training at Outer Apra Harbor, Farallon de Medinilla

On August 21, 2017, Joint Region Marianas announced that training exercises will take place:
Apra Harbor on August 24th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. .
Farallon de Medinilla August 25th from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m..

The general location of the training on the island of Farallon de Medinilla will be in a
12-nautical mile radius of the island. Farallon de Medinilla, located in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, supports aircrew combat readiness training.

You can view their announcement here:

Military Exercises in Guam’s Waters – August, 2017

On August 18, 2017, Join Region Marianas announced that the military will conduct training in waters surrounding Guam (Warning Area 517 (W-517)) during the following dates and times:
– Aug. 22 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
– Aug. 23 from 5-7 p.m.
– Aug. 24 and 26 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
– Aug. 28 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
– Aug. 30 from noon to 6 p.m.

The military will also conduct training in waters around Guam within a five-mile nautical radius of the following coordinates 10° 30″ 00’N/144° 40″00’E, 10° 30″ 00’N/145° 20″00’E, 09° 50″ 00’N/145° 20″00’E, 09° 50″ 00’N/144° 40″00’E, and 10° 30″ 00’N/144° 40″00’E during the following dates and times:
– Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
– Aug. 26 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, see the release from JRM here:
17-069 Military to Conduct Training at W-517, Waters Surrounding Guam

Independent Guåhan Hosts Teach-In on the impact of the MITT on Guam’s environment and quest for self-determination

As part of their ongoing series of monthly Teach-Ins that provide insight into important issues affecting Guam, Independent Guåhan will be holding its next meeting on August 17 from 6:00 – 7:30 P.M. in UOG HSS 106 to discuss the Mariana Islands Training and Testing study area or MITT.

The Teach-In will discuss the specific threats these actions by DOD will affect our environment and natural resources, but also in general how it will affect issues of indigenous rights and political status change.

The community will have until September 15, 2017 to provide comments on the MITT and this Teach-In is organized to help inform the public on the issue and how to provide comments. It is free and open to the public.


Vice Speaker Terlaje Urges Colleagues to Unite for Peace

Listen to Vice Speaker Terlaje’s motion for senators to stand in solidarity with residents of Guam to promote peace and justice.  See video at 12:40- 14:40.


“Mister Speaker, while we sit in the historic halls of the Guam Legislature discussing the future revenues and expenditures of the Government of Guam, our economy, taxes, and which services the government will provide, I cannot stop thinking that we do this as a territory of the United State under the threat of a nuclear missile attack by a nation that is at odds with the U.S..  These world powers are talking about our children and our families, and our home of 4,000 years.

International media is here to find out how the leaders and people of Guam are reacting to the threat of war.  I have stayed abreast of all the preparation tips from our executive branch: the “stay calm” suggestions, the call for prayers, and the questioning and analysis of how we ended up in this position again. 

Some residents have organized a rally to call for peace.  I believe we as a community should come together, on this occasion where the cameras of international media and the eyes of citizens across the world are on us, regardless of party, regardless of status preference, regardless of our faith or lack of faith in world leaders, to draw attention to the only truly important fact: that it is our children and families that are at risk, and that we want peace in our homeland of 4000 years.

I would make a motion to recess at a certain time, at 4:30 today, in order to allow senators to stand in solidarity with residents of our island to promote peace and justice for Guam.

Si Yu’os Ma’åse’.

MITT Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement FACTS and Slideshow

On July 28, 2017, the Navy announced that a supplement to the 2015 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared to support ongoing and additional military activities conducted at sea within the Marianas Islands Testing and Training area.  Below are several facts about the Marianas Islands Range Complex, the Mariana Islands Training and Testing Area, and the EIS.  A slide show is also provided here:

MITT Presentation -2

For more information, please email or call 472-3586.


Mariana Islands Range Complex

  • In 2010, the Navy established the Mariana Islands Range Complex (MIRC)
  • MIRC is a half-billion-square nautical mile live-fire training range that surrounds Guam, Rota, Tinian, Saipan and all but the islands furthest to the north
  • The MIRC authorized live-fire on and in the land, air, and sea throughout the training range
  • At the time the MIRC was established, it was described by a Department of Defense official as the largest DoD live-fire training range in the world

Mariana Islands Training and Testing

  • In 2015, the Navy signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Mariana Islands Training and Testing (MITT) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
  • The ROD almost doubled the sea-based ranges and land-based areas that allow the Navy to conduct sonar and live-fire training and testing activities that include the use of active sonar and explosives
  • This “study area” encompasses the entire ocean under the MIRC and further expands the range of the DoD training area to 984,469 square nautical miles—larger than the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico.

MITT Study Area

  • The expanded study area includes:
  • The existing Mariana Islands Range Complex
  • Areas on the high seas to the north and west of the Mariana Islands Range Complex
  • A transit corridor between the Mariana Islands Range Complex and the Hawaii Range Complex, starting at the International Date Line
  • Apra Harbor and select Navy pier-side and harbor locations
  • Permits obtained from National Marine Fisheries Service authorize 12,580 detonations of various magnitudes per year for 5 years
  • The MITT allows 81,962 takings of 26 different marine mammal species (including whales and dolphins) per year for 5 years due to detonation, sonar, and other training and testing activity within the MITT
  • The MITT also allows damage or kill of over 6 square miles of endangered coral reefs plus additional 20 square miles of coral reef around FDM through the use of highly explosive bombs

Supplemental EIS

  • On July 28, 2017, the Navy announced that a supplement to the 2015 MITT EIS is being prepared to support ongoing and additional military activities conducted at sea and on FDM within the MITT area beyond 2020
  • The SEIS will include an analysis of military activity using new available information, including an updated acoustic effects model, updated marine mammal density data, and emergent science
  • In the supplement, the Navy will only analyze training and testing activities conducted at sea and on FDM within the MITT area
  • The Navy will seek the issuance of federal regulatory permits and authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act to support ongoing military readiness activities within the MITT area beyond 2020.

Ritidian Live Fire Training Range

  • This SEIS process is in addition to the Live Fire Training Range near Ritidian and hand grenade range created pursuant to the Guam-CNMI Military Buildup Record of Decision on September 2015, and separate from the pending CNMI Joint Military Training Proposal, which would allow the military to use two-thirds of Tinian for the second highest level of live-fire training and to take the entire island of Pagan and use it for the highest level of live-fire training.

Public Comment Period

  • Public comment period for the MITT SEIS is open from August 1, 2017 until Sept. 15, 2017
  • The public is encouraged to submit substantive comments on the scope of analysis, including potential environmental issues and viable alternatives.
  • However, the Navy has announced no public meetings.
  • Given the huge scale of activity already allowed by the MITT and the Navy’s plans to expand, it’s important to compile and share government and resident information regarding the impacts of the MITT on Guam’s resources, environment, and health.