Rota Could be Included in National Park System

January 24, 2012

Rota is a beautiful island with many hidden treasures. While living there I spent many hours exploring caves, the jungle and walking on beaches with no footprints. All over the island the lush jungle is littered with pottery shards, ancient stone tools and a significant number of latte sites.

I had the opportunity to interview several visiting archaeologists who uncovered ancient artifacts from latte sites when I was a freelance reporter for the Marianas Variety. It would be wonderful if historic sites were deemed a National Park so that they could be preserved for future generations.

A press release from the Office of CNMI Delegate Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan announced that a bill to authorize the Secretary of Interior to study archaeological, historical and natural resources in Rota for inclusion in the National Park System.

Washington, DC — Rota moved one step closer to having a National Park today – and one step closer to the jobs and economic development that such a park would bring. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1141, legislation authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to study archaeological, historical and natural resources on Rota for inclusion in the National Park system.

A 2005 Interior Department field survey found that Monchon Latte Stone Village, the Chugai Pictograph Cave, and other ancient sites on Rota have national significance and should be protected. The “suitability and feasibility” study approved today will look more closely at competing land uses and help identify which areas should be made a National Park.

“Creating a National Park is not a quick or easy process,” explained Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, who authored H.R. 1141. “Only America’s true national treasures can achieve that status.

“Rota has what it takes, though. The archaeologically important remains of the ancient Chamorro people and the rare and endangered species of plant and animal life in Rota’s limestone forests are exactly the kind of crown jewels that the National Park system is designed to protect for all time.”
Sablan managed H.R. 1141 on the floor of the House of Representatives this afternoon. He offered particular thanks to Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who leads the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, and his Democratic counterpart Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, as well as Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Washington) and Ranking Member Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts).

Sablan also noted the work of former CNMI Senator Diego M. Songao, head of the Rota Legislative Delegation, who in 2004 encouraged the National Park Service to conduct its initial reconnaissance of the cultural and natural resources of Rota. That effort resulted in the finding of national significance and the recommendation for a follow-up suitability and feasibility study.

Sablan also recalled the testimony of Rota Representative Teresita A. Santos, who traveled to Washington to speak before the Natural Resources Committee in 2010 in support of H.R. 4686, Sablan’s earlier Rota Park study bill, which passed the House but was not acted on by the U.S. Senate.

Rota Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola and CNMI Senate President Paul A. Manglona were recognized, too, by Congressman Kilili for their support, during the debate in the House today.

The Rota Cultural and Natural Resources Study Act seems well-timed. Last week, President Obama announced steps to increase foreign tourism to the United States by improving the visa system and by initiating new promotional efforts for America’s National Parks and other attractions.

Sablan said he welcomed the President’s commitment to expanding the number of countries that participate in the national visa waiver program, which makes it easier for visitors to enter the U.S.
“Being the closest part of America to the emerging economies of Asia, the Northern Marianas is eager to see new countries added to our visa waiver program.

“And we want to have the unique cultural and natural resources of our islands added to the national treasures the President intends to promote.

“We know that having areas on Rota designated as part of the National Park System will help create jobs in eco-tourism, transportation, hotels and restaurants for the people of today.

“We understand that protecting and preserving these nationally significant resources on Rota will also help ensure jobs for our children and grandchildren in the future.”

H.R. 1141 now goes to the Senate, where it will be referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Some photos of Rota © 2008 W. L. Doromal


Anonymous said...

Rota truly is a beautiful Island. While, over the years, I have not spent as much time there that I would have liked to.
The people are also so very hospitable.
For any of those that have ever been to Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands, they would see such a similarity by Rota. (Molokai, the friendly Isle known in Hawaii)
From the beaches to the mountains and the isolated coves with pristine beaches and virgin Jungles teeming with wild game, that are only accessible by boat.
The people waving to each other including the outside visitors driving or walking by.
The families inviting passing strangers to their Lanai (porch)to sit and have a cool drink and a snack.
People offering rides to strangers to their destinations. I can go on and on.
BUT by the same token, On Rota there is also the blatant disregard for laws by a few on protected species and reserves by a few of the "connected" families and others in authority.
Many times repeated by the same people and for the same offenses.

If a Fed. National Park is approved, my fears is that there would be the same "families" that would be involved in the abuse.
The other problem would be that just how many could pass the fed. written pre-emloyment testing just to qualify to take an employment test along with a background check.

Wendy Doromal said...

You said: If a Fed. National Park is approved, my fears is that there would be the same "families" that would be involved in the abuse.
The other problem would be that just how many could pass the fed. written pre-emloyment testing just to qualify to take an employment test along with a background check.

Nepotism is alive and well on every island in the CNMI. I am unsure of what abuse you think would exist if a Federal Park were to be approved and it was monitored by park rangers.

I taught on Rota. I have to say some of the most intelligent students that I have ever taught were those from Rota. Many could pass any test given to them.

Anonymous said...

You are probably correct about your former students being able to pass a Fed.test for employment.
I was thinking about the present people from the "connected" families that are there today as most of the younger educated (smart)ones have left to other places.A few are working for the NMI Govt. and won't leave that job.
As far as abuses at a park, it would be the same as in the park in Saipan, mostly trash left behind and vandalism etc.
If any endangered species are found they would most likely be taken.
Rota is famous for taking endangered or out of season species.
There was not a time that I went there that I was not offered bat, deer or crab.
If there was any from Rota that qualified as Park Rangers this possibly would be ongoing as they would all be familia.

How many actual NMI Park Rangers do they have in Saipan?
I have not seen any (but then again I had not spent much time there.
An example of indigenous qualifying for a Fed job is with the past NMI Immigration employees applying for a Fed. Immigration position.
Just how many actually passed and were eventually employed?
Also TSA testing, how many actually qualified and of the ones that did how many actually lasted.
Of some that can qualify with the written,they are disqualified in a background check due to things involving credit problems or criminal convictions.
I have watched my people since my young time, just after the war through the years (through the years I have come back and forth)
These elected, "connected" and other I have known most from when they were kids.

Anonymous said...

During the last round of TSA testing, there were around 120 applicants/test takers, over 30 passed the initial test. I think it was for two or four positions there.

Anonymous said...

That's only 23%, I wonder what the national average is on passing this particular test? Could it be the NMI is higher?