Marianas Says U.S. Has Failed to Fulfill Ocean Monument PromisesOne of the reason's we are even on the radar is because of all the letters, emails, resolutions, and testimonies being sent to the Subcommittee. Please keep them up! The Subcommittee is accepting testimony for 10 days after the hearing, so please take that opportunity to have your voice heard in the halls of the United States Congress.
More than a year after President George W. Bush created a vast marine national monument near the Northern Marianas Islands, the federal government has yet to make good on promised investments in the islands.
Bush created three marine monuments near U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean just weeks before he left the White House, part of a bid for a positive environmental legacy. The largest marine reserve, the Marianas Trench National Monument, encompasses nearly 61 million acres of submerged areas and waters and is the world's third-largest ocean reserve.
The designation was hailed in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The islands' leaders said the reserve would bring international attention and federal investment, but they say they have been left empty-handed. The monument has no advisory council, no management plan and no plans for a visitor center or science education outreach.
Marianas citizens who supported the monument expected it to bring environmental, economic and social benefits and gain worldwide recognition for their islands, said Angelo O'Connor Villagomez, director of Friends of the Monument that advocated for the designation. But so far, he said, there has been only recognition.
"That part is exciting, that people are getting interested," Villagomez said. "We're just waiting for the federal government to catch up."
Friends of the Monument have asked Congress to provide money to build a visitor center, expand the monument and give greater protection to marine life. They also want the government to put the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in charge of the monument as part of NOAA's marine sanctuary system, taking it away from Interior.
Please take the time to write a letter in support of H.R. 3511. Address your letter to Representative Bordallo of Guam and send a copy to Representative Gregorio Camacho "Kilili" Sablan. This blog has sample letters and instructions on writing your letter. Letters from Saipan, Rota, New Mexico, and Florida have been entered into the official record. Please take a moment to add yours.