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NEWS | March 20, 2023

Guam 37th Legislature Visits Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz

By Maj. Diann Rosenfeld Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz

DEDEDO, Guam -- Senators and legislative staff members with the Guam 37th Legislature visited Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Blaz, March 17, 2023.

MCB Camp Blaz coordinated with the Chairman for the Committee on the Guam Buildup, Senator Roy Quinata and his staff to invite all members of the Guam Legislature on a base tour to learn more about the Marine Corps' construction progress and to showcase the ongoing efforts to avoid, minimize, and offset the impact to Guam’s natural and cultural resources.

In attendance were Sen. Roy Quinata, Sen. Jesse Lujan, and Sen. Joanne Brown. Staff members from the offices of Sen. Thomas Fisher and Sen. Amanda Shelton as well as the Executive Director of the Community Defense Liaison Office from the governor’s office Vera Topasna and the State Historic Preservation Officer Patrick Lujan were also in attendance. Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, commander of Joint Region Marianas (JRM) and JRM’s Command Master Chief William Webster participated alongside MCB Camp Blaz leadership and staff.

“I’m grateful to the senators and their staff for taking time out of their busy schedules to visit Camp Blaz,” said Rear Adm. Nicholson. “It’s incredibly important that we continue to be transparent with the community throughout the construction process, and this opportunity allows the legislature to see firsthand the facilities and the ongoing mitigation efforts aboard Camp Blaz. It also arms the members with information to directly address their constituents’ questions and hopefully leave here more informed about Camp Blaz.”

Members and military officials discussed a range of topics which included cultural and natural resources, range operations, defense of Guam, civilian infrastructure, civilian/military partnerships, school capacity, and military housing.

Most visible from Route 3 is the vertical construction of the six-story bachelor enlisted quarters. Once all eight buildings are completed, each bachelor enlisted quarters will provide 300 rooms to house enlisted service members. Additionally, under construction are two, 194 single-occupancy room bachelor officers quarters. Earlier this year the first phase of on-base housing at Andersen Air Force Base was completed which provides housing for 80 families.

“While some of the construction efforts are obvious, such as the buildup at the main cantonment, other efforts, especially our natural resource management and cultural resource mitigation projects are not so apparent,” said Col. Christopher Bopp, commanding officer of MCB Camp Blaz. “We are creating habitats for threatened and endangered species such as the Marianas eight-spot butterfly and Fadang trees."

During the tour, the Guam Legislature visited a nursery created to rehabilitate and propagate native plants and trees. These plants and trees will eventually be out-planted in the forest enhancement area surrounding the base. Since 2020, deer and pig were removed from more than 1,200 acres of forest surrounding Camp Blaz. With the ungulates gone, the team planted more than 1,000 native, threatened trees, a step to restoring the Northern Plateau’s limestone forests that are overrun by invasive plant and animal species.

The legislature also visited the Urban Training Complex to not only tour the grenade range and training facilities, but also to discuss cultural resource mitigation efforts at that location.

“During the construction efforts our trained team of archeologists discovered several significant cultural sites,” said Bopp. “To date all burial sites have been left in place and construction projects, from buildings to roads, have been modified to ensure the individuals buried by the hands of their loved ones generations ago, would be preserved in their original context. I want to be clear that we are not and have not removed individuals from the locations where they were originally laid to rest.”

The group also visited the Marine Corps’ aviation facilities at Andersen AFB where they had a working lunch with Marine, Navy, and Air Force leadership. The group toured the Live Fire Training Range Complex to discuss range operations and the final stop was at the Main Cantonment to tour construction progress.

“I appreciate the open door,” said Sen. Quinata after the tour. “I look forward to future opportunities to ensure our community benefits greatly alongside the Marine buildup.”


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