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Guam was awarded a $567,000 grant this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to conserve the territory’s coral reefs during a U.S. military buildup planned in the coming years, according to the office of Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo.

Over the next couple of years, the money will pay to monitor reefs, create education and public outreach programs, manage stormwater runoff, and hire additional workers to assist local agencies in conservation efforts, as well as a variety of other projects, according to the NOAA grant award document released by Bordallo’s office.

The fate of the island’s reefs has been a major concern among Guamanians, and the Navy responded by delaying plans to build berthing for visiting aircraft carriers in Apra Harbor until further studies of coral are completed.

“This federal grant will help Guam study the possible effects the build-up will have on our island’s coral reefs and identify Guam’s land-based sources of pollution,” Bordallo said in a prepared statement. “Guam is home to many diverse coral reef ecosystems and it is important that we protect and preserve these critical marine habitats for future generations.”

The Department of Defense is planning to move 8,600 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to the island, create an Air Force reconnaissance hub, create a port for carriers patrolling the Pacific region, and possibly locate a ballistic missile shield on Guam.

The project was originally slated to be complete in 2014, but the deadline was scrapped in June due to years of delays, and no new date has been issued.


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