CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Guam officials asked the U.S. Navy on Wednesday to extend a deadline on reaching an agreement aimed at protecting historic sites while moving 8,600 Marines to the island.

After months of unsuccessful meetings, the Navy gave Guam officials until Friday to sign off on ground rules for handling historic land, artifacts and remains during military construction or it will break off talks and move ahead with the massive buildup without consulting the territory.

Newly elected Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo asked the Navy to give his government two more weeks to work through the impasse caused by the military’s plan to build Marine Corps firing ranges on undeveloped coastal land considered sacred by indigenous Chamorros, Arthur Clark, the governor’s chief policy adviser, said Wednesday.

“If a Programmatic Agreement cannot be established, the Navy is prepared to terminate consultation in compliance with all federal regulations but hopes to reach a resolution in order to protect and preserve historic properties on Guam,” Navy Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Environment Donald Schregardus said in a written statement Wednesday to Stars and Stripes.

If the Navy terminates talks, Guam could lose local oversight of military construction and historic preservation plans.

The territory has balked for months at signing the agreement because of widespread public opposition to a key provision of the buildup — the construction of live-fire training ranges at Pagat, a tract of land that contains Chamorro graves, archeological sites and traditional medicinal herbs that are endemic to the island. The U.S. military has said no other sites on Guam are acceptable and it needs the firing ranges to support and train the thousands of Marines who will be moved from Okinawa as part of a military realignment in the Pacific.

The Navy has been working since March 2007 with the Guam State Historic Preservation Office, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and a variety of island groups to reach an agreement that would determine oversight and preservation efforts during military construction.

The talks are required by the National Historic Preservation Act, which is a set of federal regulations meant to protect historic resources during public construction projects.

In recent months, the talks have been stymied by the opposition to the Pagat ranges.

Guam Historic Preservation Officer Lynda Aguon, whose signature is needed for the agreement to be finalized, has publicly opposed the ranges and supported more involvement in the talks from citizen groups including We Are Guahan — which is suing the Defense Department in Hawaii district court over the firing ranges.

The ACHP, which helps broker historic preservation plans, sent a letter to the Navy in December saying it was still concerned that alternatives to the Pagat site would not be considered as part of a historic preservation agreement.

The Navy, which issued the Friday deadline, had not responded to the governor’s extension request as of late Wednesday afternoon, Clark said.

If the extension is granted, Calvo plans to take the additional time to meet with Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, who will travel to the island next week, Clark said. He said Calvo and the Guam State Historic Preservation Office also are discussing the possibility of removing the Pagat firing ranges from the historic preservation agreement and addressing the controversial issue separately.

That could allow the territory and the Navy to sign an agreement while Pagat is being decided, Clark said.

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