A congressional delegation will visit Rota for the first time ever on February 23. I made a special request for this stopover to Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and leader of the CODEL. He kindly agreed. On February 22, the eight members of our group will land on Saipan. The next day we travel to Tinian and then on to Rota, where we will be briefed by a National Park Service team.
They are holding public meetings as part of their study of the feasibility of establishing a unit of the National Park System on Rota to protect areas of recognized national importance like I’Chenchon Bird Sanctuary, Monchong Latte Village site, and Taga Latte Quarry. I included authorization for this three-year study in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act and funding in the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act. But the Park idea really began with then-Rota Legislative Delegation leader Senator Diego Songao in 2004. Rota Representative Teresita Santos also helped with convincing testimony to Congress in 2010, as did Mayor Melchor A. Mendiola and Senator Paul A. Manglona. Study recommendations will go to the Natural Resources Committee, which is responsible for decisions about our national parks.