Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Under the Pala Pala XII – Monument Promises Coming True

Under the Pala Pala XII – Monument Promises Coming True

Island Decisions and Island Opinions are made Under the Pala Pala

We’re going to get a Marianas Trench Eco-Discovery Center! The Marianas Variety and the Saipan Tribune both reported today that $220,000 has been set aside to “develop a process” for consulting the public regarding a visitors center for the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument.

This is great news! Governor Ben Fitial, Representative Greg Sablan, the Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument, NOAA Office of Marine National Sanctuaries, and even President Barack Obama deserve much thanks. Although the Bush Administration promised a monument visitor center, it is the work of these individuals that is bringing the promises of the monument to fruition.

About a month ago, the Friends of the Marianas Trench Monument got this ball rolling and wrote to both Governor Fitial and Representative Sablan asking them to work with NOAA to engage “the CNMI community to design a Mariana Trench Visitor Center.” During the week that Agnes McPhetres and I spent in Washington, DC last February we identified funds already appropriated by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama that could be used to design such a visitor center. All the Governor or the Congressman would have to do was to write to NOAA Office of Marine National Sanctuaries to request that the funds be used to design a visitor center.

The Fitial Administration and NOAA have since come up with a work plan for developing a visitor center at the Old Japanese Lighthouse on Navy Hill. This is wonderful news!

The Old Japanese Lighthouse is an excellent site for a visitor center because of its link to maritime history and its panoramic view of the Saipan Lagoon and Managaha. The Old Japanese Lighthouse is also on the National Registry of Historic Places, making its selection even more meaningful.

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who is helping the promises of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument come true.

Angelo O’Connor Villagomez
Winter Park, FL


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Under the Pala Pala is the regular commentary of environmentalist and erstwhile politician Angelo O’Connor Villagomez. Pala pala is the Chamorro word for an outdoor shelter traditionally made of wood and thatch used for staying out of the sun, cooking, eating, drinking, singing, and talking. Sign up to subscribe via email at www.AngeloVillagomez.com.

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