Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Monument Letter to President Bush

The federal discussions are now underway on Saipan. This week is the week to make public comments regarding the proposed Marianas Marine Park. (No name has been officially adopted so I'll change it up now and again.)

Anyone with an opinion is being asked to write to the president, or call your local congressperson or senator the number is 664-8999. Your opinion matters. Here's my letter to W.

October 20th, 2008

George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President George W. Bush,

My name is Mike Tripp. I am a SCUBA diving instructor, underwater filmmaker, pharmacist and father of two living in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on the island of Saipan. I write to you in support of the large marine protected area that will be created by proclaiming the waters surrounding the three northernmost islands of the archipelago a marine monument.

If my words, in any way, help sway your decision in favor of this designation then I ask that they also persuade you to do everything within your power to ensure the monument not only protects the marine habitat within its boundaries but that it also helps ensure the preservation and practice of local Carolinian and Chamorro culture throughout the CNMI.

As a Canadian living on Saipan and as someone who has traveled extensively, I am familiar with the concerns of those who feel their language, culture and traditional way of life is threatened by outside forces. In the CNMI this threat is not new nor is it unfounded; therefore, it is imperative that any governing body tasked with regulating the monument area have strong representation by local indigenous people whose ideals are in line with those of their ancestors and whose actions will uphold the high value of conservation passed down from generation to generation.

At the same time I ask for you to do everything within your power to ensure creation of the monument is followed by the resources necessary to achieve the many benefits touted for local residents and the world as a whole. Without proper funding for education, infrastructure and enforcement the federal designation of a monument will be nothing more than a line on a map and one that has the potential to divide our local population.

With funding and effective co-management comes the ability to protect this vast area far better than what can currently be achieved by good intentions alone, as these are no match for foreign fishing fleets illegally poaching such a vast area so far away from the populated islands of the south. With funding comes the ability to build a world-class visitors center that will not only stimulate the local economy by creating jobs and increasing revenues from tourists, but it will also provide a foundation for marine education and the preservation of indigenous culture. With funding and effective management will come international notoriety and a sense of pride for local residents when they are recognized by the world as long-time environmental stewards and role models for effective conservation. This pride will ultimately help fuel the creation of additional infrastructure and programs required to immediately stimulate economic growth while encouraging new generations of young indigenous people to embrace their own heritage and ensure traditional ways are passed on to their children.

As a father of two children who were born here on Saipan, I feel a sense of responsibility to do what is right for future generations of islanders as well as the planet as a whole. I believe creation of a marine monument along with appropriate funding and effective management by both federal agencies and the local people provides an opportunity that should not be missed especially as a result of the few who wish to see the status quo maintained.

In closing, as an active member of the community I believe, in context of the information above, the vast majority of CNMI residents support the designation of a marine monument surrounding the islands of Asuncion, Maug and Uracas and hope that you will decide in favor of its creation.


Mike Tripp
Mike Tripp Productions

cc: Benigno R. Fitial, CNMI Governor
Pete P. Reyes, CNMI Senate President
Arnold I. Palacios, CNMI House Speaker
Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior
James Connaughton, CEQ Chairman
Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., NOAA
Carlos M. Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce
Ignacio V. Cabrera, Chairman - Friends of the Monument

I encourage everyone to take the time to write your own letter or email. Send it to the paper, send it to any government office or take it down to American Memorial Park. It does not have to be long it could be written on a napkin although paper and a pen would be preferred.

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