Center for Biological Diversity

Ask President Obama to Protect Guam's Biodiversity, Coral

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Guam is a historically unique island in the western Pacific Ocean and borders the captivating, federally protected Marianas Trench National Monument. As a U.S. territory, Guam is home to nearly 180,000 American citizens, yet is one of the world’s last remaining non-self-governing territories. Since the militarization of Guam in the 1940s, more than 30 species of native birds and numerous other animals have gone extinct. More than 30 percent of the island is currently occupied by the U.S. military.

The military recently announced plans to build up its presence on the island. Experts and locals alike anticipate that the construction and operation of the currently proposed military expansion will cause unprecedented environmental and cultural destruction on Guam. Making matters worse, a simultaneous plan calls for the construction of a massive military airbase in the coastal waters off of northeastern Okinawa, Japan. This plan would devastate some of the last habitat of the highly endangered Okinawa dugong, cousin to the charismatic manatee.

The EPA recently reviewed the military’s plans, giving them the lowest possible environmental rating and threatening to refer the matter to the Council for Environmental Quality. Some of the EPA’s chief concerns are that by 2014 there will be up to a 13-million-gallon shortfall of drinking water per day for people living off-base; that more than 2,000 residents will regularly hear gunfire from a firing range at levels as loud as a vacuum cleaner operated 10 feet away; and that the dredging of Apra Harbor will have a profound effect on more than 71 acres of Guam’s pristine coral reef.

This delicate island ecosystem can't withstand the pressure of military expansion. Please send a letter to President Obama today asking him to listen to the concerns of Guam's people and protect the island's biodiversity.

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Please submit comments by April 1, 2010.

Photo of coral near Guam by Dave Burdick, NOAA.