War in the Pacific
Administrative History
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Chapter 10:


The superintendencies of Edward E. Wood, Jr. (July 1991 to August 1998) and Karen Gustin (1998-2001) was a decade remembered for its special historic events, both planned and unplanned. Planning for the fiftieth anniversary of World War II in the Pacific, typhoon Omar struck the island in 1992 and in December 1997 Super Typhoon Paka wreaked havoc on the island -- it was the worst typhoon in Guam's recorded meteorological history. In August 1998, the park celebrated its twentieth anniversary, that year, the entire island of Guam and War in the Pacific National Park welcomed President Bill Clinton. Also in 1998, Superintendent Ed Wood left the superintendency, and Karen Gustin, the park's first female superintendent arrived shortly thereafter.

Park Staff

As in past years, War in the Pacific National Historical Park continued to be understaffed in the 1990s. In 1993, War in the Pacific National Historic Park had six permanent employees. A 103rd Congress briefing statement dated January 1993 noted that "a need for an additional ten permanent employees to meet the minimum requirements." [441] The park gained an additional employee around the time of the World War II fiftieth anniversary celebrations. By the end of the 1990s, the park claimed seven permanent staff: the superintendent, three ranger/interpretive staff, and three Maintenance Division staff. [See Appendix 9 for the 1997 C-MAP and CR-MAP FTE calculations.]

Edward E. Wood, Jr., became the park's third superintendent. He was assigned Acting Superintendent in August 1991, about a month after Superintendent Reyes retired from the Park Service. Wood was no stranger to the park. He had worked for seven months, between November 1985 and May 1986, as ranger/interpretive specialist at the park while Chief Ranger Jim Miculka was away on an educational leave. Wood also had worked at the American Memorial Park on Saipan, serving as ranger-in-charge since January 1989. During that time, he had participated in the dive team activities.

Edward Wood began his association with the National Park Service in 1972. After graduating from the University of New Mexico in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and working as a research technician for Lovelace Foundation, then a veterinary medicine laboratory in Albuquerque for two years, Wood was employed as a park ranger in September 1972. Over the next thirteen years, Wood broadened his ranger experience while pursuing various assignments: law enforcement, interpretation, district ranger, division chief, and resource manager. His NPS assignments were at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historic Site in St. Louis, Everglades National Park in Florida, Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, and Lehman Caves National Monument. In 1985, Ed Wood began training designed to prepare him for a park superintendency at the Western Regional Office (then in San Francisco), in the Washington, DC office, and in three different California parks where he "shadowed" the superintendents. In November 1985, he went to Guam for the first time, where he served as acting interpretive specialist until May 1986. He left the Marianas for two and one-half years to serve as Visitor Center Supervisor for Grand Canyon National Park before taking up the position of Ranger-In-Charge at American Memorial Park on Saipan until July 1991.

He guided the park through the busy years of World War II fiftieth anniversary celebrations from 1991 through 1994. Wood served as first acting, then permanent superintendent for seven years, until August 1998, when he transferred to Arkansas Post National Memorial. He returned to Guam briefly in September to close out the fiscal year. [442]

Sarah Cramer worked as an administrative assistant through much of Wood's superintendency. She first worked as a clerk typist, then, under the Administrative Careers Program, was promoted to Administrative Officer in the mid-1990s. In July 1993, Cramer worked with the Office of Guam's Delegate to Congress and the fiftieth anniversary "Golden Salute" steering committee to coordinate the grand opening of the Asan Bay Overlook. Two years later, Cramer was promoted to administrative officer, the first to hold this position in the park's history. She remained in that position until October 1998, when she left the park around the time that Superintendent Wood left. [443]

During Superintendent Edward Wood's tenure, permanent and seasonal park positions were overwhelming filled by local Guam residents. In 1994, five positions were advertised and three were filled by local hires. Two years later, six park positions were taken by five park positions were filled by local residents. [444]

park staff
Figure 10-1. War in the Pacific park staff, 1996-1998. Front, left to right: Superintendent Karen Gustin, Park Ranger Michael Tajalle, Administrative Clerk Tina Borja, park volunteer Felicia Gutierrez, Rita and Jim Powell of the Maintenance Division, and museum curator Steve Keane. Rear, from left to right: Christine DeLury, Regional Manager of the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, Ranger in Charge Chuck Sayon, Chief of Interpretation Rose Manibusan, Administrative Officer Mary Mesa, Collen Wilson, Administrative Support Clerk Angela Wise, Temporary Administrative Clerk Beth Fejerang, and Facility Manager Ron Wilson. Source: War in the Pacific National Historic Park.

Karen Gustin became the park's first female superintendent a few weeks after Ed Wood's departure in the fall of 1998. She came to the park with over fifteen years of National Park Service experience. Not long after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in outdoor recreation from Colorado State University, Gustin began working as a seasonal park ranger at Death Valley National Monument and the U. S. Forest Service in California. This position was followed by assignments as front-line interpretive specialist at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Chief Ranger at Ocmulgee National Monument in George, Chief of Interpretation at Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, and training instructor at the Grand Canyon's Albright Training Center. Gustin was assigned her first superintendency at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa (1994-1996), followed by a position as unit manager at Katmai National Park in Alaska (1996-1998). [445]

Eric Brunnemann became the fifth superintendent of War in the Pacific National Historical Park (and American Memorial on Saipan), arriving in his new post in mid-2002. Brunnemann came to the park with a master's degree archaeological anthropology from the University of Texas, as well as a master's degree in American studies from the University of New Mexico. After working briefly at the San Antonio Museum Association, Brunnemann began working for the National Park Service at Fort Davis National Historic Site, where he was a museum technician. In 1991, he became one of the first staff for newly created Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over the next eight years, Brunnemann successfully developed critical components of the monuments interpretive program, established museum collections, and implemented the monuments first cultural resource management program. In 1999, he moved to the NPS's Southwest Utah Group of parks, where he served until 2002 as the cultural resources program manager for Canyonlands and Arches National parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National monuments. For a time, he served as acting superintendent at Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National monuments. [446] Brunnemann arrived at the park just six months before another disastrous super typhoon, in December 2002, which caused such extensive damage to the Newman Visitor Center that the National Park Service moved out of the building. This marked the end of the first era of NPS administration of War in the Pacific National Historical Park and the promise of a new beginning of park administration and interpretation of the park.

Through most of the 1990s the Interpretive Division had three permanent staff. Rose Manibusan worked as chief of the Division of Interpretation as well as serving in the role of park ranger throughout the 1990s. She coordinated the exhibits, oral history project, and many other special projects for the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, which climaxed in 1994. She also helped coordinate special fiftieth anniversary activities with several organizations, including agencies of the Government of Guam, and the Micronesia Area Regional Center at the University of Guam. For five weeks in late 1995, Manibusan accepted a detail in Yosemite National Park to gain a broader perspective on National Park Service interpretive programs and park operations generally. [447]

Sean Cahill began working as a volunteer in January 1990. He accepted a museum technician position with the park in May 1993. His interest in history had led him to work previously at Fort Douglas Military Museum in Utah, followed by employment with the National Park Service. He worked as a museum technician in the Alaska Regional Office of NPS, at Grand Canyon, and at Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, California, before coming to work at the Guam park. Diligent and hard working, Cahill received a special achievement award for his outstanding contributions to the park in 1990-1991. [448]

Two other rangers/interpreters–Michael Tajalle and Steve Keane–joined the staff during the World War II fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Michael Tajalle was hired as a park ranger in early 1992 after serving in the U.S. Army for twenty-two years. During part of that time, he fought in Vietnam. Tajalle had attended the Park Service's Ranger Academy before arriving on Guam. Tajalle became the first permanent park ranger of Chamorro descent to work at War in the Pacific National Historical Park. In 1993, he was the first male Chamorro to attend the National Park Service's ranger skills course at the Grand Canyon's Albright Training Center. Tajalle became involved in many activities: the Marianas Oral History project (jointly supported by the NPS and MARC, Guam Cable TV, and KGTF Public Broadcasting), the opening of the Asan Ridge Trail, and many other World War II fiftieth anniversary events. [449] Michael Tajalle remained at the park for several years.

Steve Keane became the park's new museum technician in January 1994, the year of the major fiftieth anniversary celebration in the park. Previously, he had worked at NPS's Western Archaeological and Conservation Center in Tucson. He immediately began taking care of a backlog of curatorial concerns. He helped fabricate new exhibits for celebrations commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the World War II American landing. Over the next six years, he computerized and updated the park museum and library records and improved the overall operations and storage of these areas. Keane transferred to the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 2000. [450] Seasonal rangers in the 1990s included: Rick Sotomayor, Commodore Mann, Jr., DePaul Guerro, and others. [451]

The park's Maintenance Division had three staff throughout most of the 1990s. Brian Strack was hired in February 1994 as the park's facility manager (chief of the Maintenance Division). He had worked previously at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Strack was responsible for all maintenance and construction in the park, aided by only two permanent full-time laborers and many volunteers. He coordinated all fiftieth anniversary special project developments in the Asan Beach unit, Gaan Point and Apaca Point in the Agat Unit, and the Piti Unit. He also facilitated the efficient and speedy completion of the Stell Newman Visitor Center improvements in 1994, including painting, installation of new exhibits and updating lighting. [452]

Ronald D. Wilson became the park's facility manager in July 1997. In addition to managing the maintenance division, he also served as the park's contracting officer. Wilson arrived with twenty years of experience as a Navy Seabee, after which he worked for a few years as a construction representative with the Western Division Naval Facilities in California, after which he worked for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Engineering Center in Denver, and then as a facility manager with the Northwest Biological Center in Seattle. Before arriving on Guam, Ron Wilson had been recognized and rewarded for his creative and innovative approaches to accomplishing work and solving problems, as well as his infectious enthusiasm and positive attitude toward work and life. He put these qualities to use soon after his arrival on Guam shortly after the destructive Super Typhoon Paka battered the island in December 1997. Wilson led the park in its cleanup and recovery efforts. As the result of these efforts, he received a certificate of appreciation from the director of the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service, and also the outstanding employee award.

Prior to President Bill Clinton's visit to Guam and the park in November 1998, Wilson oversaw the improvement of park resources and worked with the Secret Service to plan the president's visit. Wilson left the park in January 2000 to become Chief of Maintenance, Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. He returned to War in the Pacific and his former position with the park three years later (in January 2003). His timing remained good: Less than one month after his return, the island was hit by Super Typhoon Pangsona, which caused extensive damage to Guam and to the park's Newman Visitor Center/administrative headquarters and other park resources. Ron Wilson had been back less than one year when he died suddenly on November 15, 2003, at the age of fifty-seven. [453] In 2001, the permanent maintenance workers included Rita Powell and James Powell. [454]

Volunteers played a vitally important role in park operations during the 1990s, just as they had since the Newman superintendency. The divisions of Interpretation and Maintenance, in particular, depended on volunteer contributions. Volunteers helped operate the Visitor Center and participated in the oral history program, which became increasingly active in the 1990s. In 1996, the first Volunteer-in-Parks Oral History Team (also called the "Marianas Oral History Team") was established by Rose Manibusan, Tony Ramirez, Herbert Del Rosario, and Joe Guerro. Some individuals, such as David Lotz, who designed and made a series of airplane exhibits for the Visitor Center, and Sean Cahill, who contributed to the production of a series of guidebooks during the World War II fiftieth anniversary celebrations, made enormous contributions of time, money, energy, and goodwill to the park. [455] Volunteer Joyce A. Quinn wrote the "Asan Beach Guide" in 1992 for the park. And, there were others who contributed enormously, including Anthony Ramirez, a volunteer historian; Herbert Del Rosario, with the College of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI); Joe Guerrero, Historic Preservation Office (CNMI); Sam McPhetres, Historian, (CNMI); Warren Nishimoto, University of Hawaii; and Dr Dirk Ballendort, Micronesian Area Research Center, University of Guam.

Community Service Program [456] enrollees also gave many volunteer hours to the Maintenance Division. In 1998, for example, sixty-eight Community Service Program participants donated 8,016 hours to the Maintenance Division. In fiscal year 2000, 100 Community Service Program clients donated 17,000 hours (equivalent to eight full-time equivalencies, FTEs) to the park. These enrollees took care of routine maintenance, such as mowing laws, cutting back rapidly growing vegetation, and picking up trash. They also helped clean up after Super Typhoon Paka in late 1997. The day-to-day work and special project work of the Maintenance Division could not have been done without the contributions of the Community Service Program volunteers. [457]

During the fiftieth anniversary, park received volunteer assistance from many government agencies, private organizations, and individuals. Several branches of the military–the US Army Reserve, Army National Guard, Air Force National Guard, and the Seabees (U.S. Navy Construction Battalion)–gave of their time and energy to prepare for the celebrations. In addition, many local Guam residents helped in various ways with the production of a new park film, "Liberating Guam," scheduled for a premiere showing in July 1944. Jack Eddy, Ben Blaz, Dirk Ballendorf, Tony Palonio, Annette Donner, Doug Mac Hugh, and several others volunteered their time to make this film possible. [458]

Resource Management: [459]

As with all NPS parks, resource management at War in the Pacific National Historic Park is performed within the parameters of federal legislation, including The National Park Act of August 25, 1916; The Historic Sites Act of 1935; Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958; The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 [and its amended version of 1980]; The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969; The Coastal Zone Management and Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries acts of 1972; The Endangered Species Act of 1973; The Clean Water Act of 1977; and the National Trust Act of 1978. And, in the case of the Guam park, the enabling legislation that created the park. Honoring the mandates of this lineage of federal legislation as well as a plethora of executive orders, and directives from both the DOI as well as NPS, all of which have been engendered by varying political agendas, is an administrative gauntlet not intended for the weak-at-heart. The complexity of the administrative tightrope walking is well exemplified by demands made of the staff during this period of 1991 to 2002. The period commenced with a continuation of the apathy that had characterized the attitude prevalent inside the District of Columbia beltway and had been historically manifested by inadequate funding and inadequate staffing since the park was born in 1978. With the advent of a growing awareness of the impending fiftieth anniversary of World War II in the Pacific political interest suddenly became keen.

To put the resource management responsibilities of the staff in perspective it would be helpful to briefly review the environment (geological and climatic) within which they performed these tasks. As mentioned in chapter 1 of this history, Guam is a volcanic peak that has undergone several periods of subsidence and uplift resulting in much of the island's volcanic material being interbedded, and in many places covered, by limestone created by the island's reef. The slopes of the island are characterized by alluvium thinly covered by unconsolidated clays, silts, sands, and gravels that have been eroded from higher slopes. These slopes are accented by scattered large boulders consisting of very dense, hard limestone that have been sliding down the hills, displaced by erosion and transported by gravity. This thin layer of silt, sand, gravel, and clays is exposed to a uniformly warm and humid tropical climate. The 81° F. year-round average afternoon temperature, 81 percent year-round average humidity, and average four-to-twelve mile per hour trade winds, are interrupted at least twice each year by severe tropical storms that drop an average 81 inches of rain on this silt, sand, gravel, and clay. Since record keeping began in 1908, typhoons have either hit Guam or passed close enough to cause wind, rain, and flood damage every three years. Since 1908, typhoons have scored direct hits on Guam at least every eight years. The low elevation occupied by the island's population centers (including much of the acreage of the park), and the fact that the soils at these low elevations are high in clay content, combined with the faithful, cyclical return of typhoons and severe tropical storms has resulted in a history of severe property damage and loss (including park resources). This same combination of factors also carries with it an ironclad guarantee of future severe property damage and loss to park resources.

These threats to park resources take on a very realistic focus when one appreciates that the historical cultural resources of of the park are structures built hurriedly using local materials (including high salt-content water), little or no reinforcement, and intended to be temporary. The Japanese defenders had no interest in creating structures to be enjoyed by future generations; they were simply erecting temporary protection from small arms fire and shrapnel. These are the historic cultural resources staff is charged with protecting from heat, humidity, floods, typhoon winds, and the persistent trampling of curious tourists. In short, the charge of War in the Pacific National Historic Park is little more than the protection of sandcastles on a heavily used beach shaking in the midst of an earthquake during a prolonged heavy, tropical rain.

The first stirrings of awareness that the fiftieth anniversary of the American 1944 landing on Guam also precipitated awareness that these historical resources need to be examined. In early 1991, an interpretive planning team was dispatched to the park from the Western Regional Office and Harpers Ferry Center to examine existing interpretive activities and plan for the fiftieth anniversary ceremonies. [460] Also in 1991, park staff contracted with the company Wiss, Elstner Associates, Inc., to examine the World War II concrete structures and present preservation alternatives to the park. One of the options the company presented was the removal of the historic, salt-laden, non-reinforced roofing and replacing it with steel-reinforced concrete having a chemical composition more appropriate for the tropical climate. Park staff preferred another alternative the company presented which was the stabilization of the original roofing rather than replacement. Unfortunately, an impasse apparently arose between the park and the Western Region architects and funds were pulled from the entire stabilization program. [461] This stabilization program included a pillbox, two gun emplacements, and a stone/concrete wall at Asan Beach, a gun emplacement and pillbox at Gaan Point, and two pillboxes at Apaca Point. The total cost of stabilization based upon retention of the historic fabric of these structures was $41,000 (in 1991 dollars).

Other cultural features dating from the period of relevance (June-July 1944) included the small community of Asan, which was a farming and fishing village, rice paddies, and various roadways and scattered buildings. In 1994 The Western Regional List of Classified Structures (LCS) Team members Jamie Donahoe and Hank Florence evaluated historic structures at the Guam park. NPS Park Ranger Rick Sotomayor, and an administrator with the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation, David Lotz, with Logan Oplinger functioned as tour guides.

Natural resources dating from the period of significance include the beach itself, strand vegetation typical of Pacific islands, including Pandanus, coconuts, beach morning glory, and various grasses. Both these cultural and natural features were largely destroyed by the bombardment of Americans just prior to and contemporaneous with their 1944 invasion. [462] As stated in the Resource Management Plan completed in 1997:

The terrestrial habitats of War in the Pacific National Historical Park have been devastated by alien biotic introductions more than any other park in the system. Of course, the entire park area was devastated by U. S. bombardment during the re-invasion — without a single square yard of real estate unaffected. Following the bombardment in Guam's wet climate erosion in these devastated lands washed tons of silt onto the fringing coral reefs and threatened their very existence. The Navy responded to curb the erosion by aerial broadcasting seeds of tangentangen as a quick expedient ground cover. It has been effective. A half-century later, tangentangen endures as the dominant shrub land community in the park. [463]

That same 1997 Resource Management Plan identified one of the goals ("Management Objectives") of managing the resources as:

Develop an appropriate interpretive program, which will foster an understanding of the reasons for the Pacific War, the sequence and nature of its conduct, its effects upon the people involved, its basic themes and broad patterns, the manner of its resolution, and the course of its aftermath. [464]

Perhaps the most profound dynamic of the management of natural resources was the complete loss of a number of specie of birds. In preliminary biodiversity studies conducted by the park in the mid-1970s, over thirteen separate bird species were identified. By the late 1980s, all but one species was gone. An explosion of a non-native snake population destroyed the avibiota. The brown tree snake was inadvertently introduced to Guam from New Guinea. The indigenous Guam bird population had evolved in the complete absence of snake predators, and having no experience with snakes, the birds of Guam had not evolved any survival characteristics or behaviors that would have protected them. The abundant bird population (food) discovered by the newly arrived brown tree snakes (thought to have arrived on aircraft — traveling coach or baggage class) encouraged a snake population explosion. At the height of its population, biologists estimated that prime habitats contained approximately 12,000 brown tree snakes per square mile. This may have been the greatest density of snakes anywhere in the world at that time. The loss of the bird population has resulted in an equal diminishment of the island snake population; however, populations of mice, rats, lizards and geckos still provide adequate cuisine for a sizable population.

Other than baseline information derived from sources other than NPS, there was no baseline information on park vegetation, nor was there any marine inventory as late as February 1997. In fact, the 1997 the park Resource Management Plan states, "In sum, there is no current, valid baseline information on the park's terrestrial biota." [465] The Resource Management Plan continued:

Plant studies and vegetative mapping specific to the park have not been done. In general, the goal of vegetation management is to maintain the park vegetation in broad appearance to the landscape aspect, which prevailed at the time of the U. S. invasion and recapture of Guam — the historic period for which the park was established. In that regard, two historic landscapes (the Asan Beachhead and the Agat Beachhead) should be defined. Both Asan Invasion Beach and Agat Invasion Beach are already listed on the National Register. This CMP identifies them as Cultural Landscapes of the Historic Site category, associated with the U. S. invasion at these beachheads in July and August of 1944. Portions of these landscapes lying within boundaries of War in the Pacific National Historical Park should be nominated to the National Register as historic landscapes. The park proposes to add Asan and Agat Beachheads to the Cultural Landscape Inventory (CLI) and seek funding to prepare Cultural Landscape Reports (CLR) of the two beachheads. [466]

In addition to threats to the resources from weather and climate, park staff was forced to contend with issues common to any historical park in an urban setting. Needs and demands of residents have often been in conflict with the mandates inherent in a historical park. Baseball on park property is an excellent example. In March 1994, the park Superintendent sent a memorandum to Marilyn Merrill, the Congressional Liaison of WASO:

Since 1980, when the park areas at Gaan were cleared and developed for interpretation of the historic defensive structures and caves, we have had to deal with special interest groups that do not understand the significance of the historic resources. Their idea of a "park" is a place to play sports. This consequently leads to some real confrontations.

Among the groups desiring to use the Gaan site for sports are the various organized baseball and softball teams. We have had Little League teams, Babe Ruth teams, and even teams from the Guam Major League (semi-pro) all playing in the open fields of the park. They contend that their presence in no way affects the visitors to the park (they do not consider the baseballs flying across the parking lots, trails and wayside exhibit panels as hazardous to anyone). The baseball practice also causes bare ground paths to be created in the landscaped areas and the players have openly stated that they have poisoned park vegetation to prevent interference with their activities.

The park has had a difficult time convincing the community of the need to preserve the historic resources. The usual response is one of indifference and actual animosity because they feel that a historic park does not serve the needs of the community. Many believe that if land is not used for houses, hotels, businesses, or sports fields, it is being wasted. [467]

The superintendent had attached several news clippings to his memorandum, one from the Pacific Daily News, a Gannett Newspaper, dated March 21, 1994. The article read, in part:

Almost every afternoon, young athletes and coaches gather at the long, flat open field at Agat's Gaan Point to practice baseball, soccer and other sports. But the National Park Service wants to put a stop to that. On Friday, Park Service workers placed a 5-foot high boulder on the field's pitching mound to render the field unusable for baseball games, village Mayor Antonio Babauta said. Yesterday, several Agat youths and village residents gathered to express their outrage with the Park Service.

The author of the news article failed to mention the attempts made by the Park Service over the preceding fourteen years to find some compromise, including arranging to modify the park boundaries to permit the construction of an alternative baseball diamond, and actually arranging with the U. S. Navy to have the alternate area graded and prepared for use as a diamond. [468]

The historical integrity of park resources not only had to be protected from local baseball, softball, and soccer teams, it also had to be protected from the United States Army. In 1995, the Army Corps of Engineers concluded that it would be nice to permit the construction of platforms over the lagoon at Asan Cut and Togcha Beach to be used by fishermen. As reported in an October 20, 1995, letter to the Corps from the superintendent, both areas are within the boundaries of the historical park, and their historical integrity would be diminished by the fishing platforms. Twelve days later, on November 1, 1995, the Corps of Engineer's Chief of Guam Operations wrote the superintendent asking what the superintendent's jurisdictional authority was for objecting. The superintendent photocopied the enabling legislation together with boundary maps, and sent it back with a cover letter that mentioned that the area in question (including the submerged area) was on the National Register of Historic Places and suggesting that the Corps of Engineers may also want to speak with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation since any modification to a historic scene by a federal agency required the Council's review. The next piece of correspondence in the file is dated four years later (August 12, 1999). It is a letter from the new park superintendent to the Army Corps of Engineers; the reference line of the superintendent's letter reads, "Application to construct public fishing platforms, Public Notice No. 990100143." The new superintendent patiently reiterated the Park Service opposition based upon historical integrity arguments. This interagency tug-of-war lasted over four years; time that could have been more productively spent playing baseball at Gaan Point.

Resources management cannot be discussed in a sociological vacuum any more than it can be discussed absent a thorough examination of climate and weather. War in the Pacific is an urban historical park not only exposed to an extraordinarily harsh tropical climate but also operated within a consumptive culture and a public assistance economy. Open space featuring manicured landscaping is rare on Guam. Rusting cars, refrigerators, discarded shreds of blue plastic tarpaulins, and empty beer and soda cans litter the margins between rights-of-way and impenetrable brush growth. Chronic traffic jams are more reminiscent of the Ventura Freeway than a Pacific island. It is telling that the single most notable attribute of the web page published on the Internet by Guam's chamber of commerce in 2001 was the boast that the island had the largest K-Mart in the world. Between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Marine Drive in the central west side of the island (the most heavily populated) is so filled with traffic that it is unable to move faster than a rapid walk. The beach running parallel to this four-lane, clogged roadway and less than two blocks away, is caressed by the gentle lapping of a crystalline blue lagoon, and is completely deserted. The economy of Guam rests squarely on three legs: government employment, government assistance, and tourism (with its typical minimum-wage jobs).

The park created an extraordinarily unique environmental feature on Guam — well-manicured, open spaces next to beaches without the suffocating presence of strip malls, the homogeneous facades of fast-food drive-ins, and four-lane roadways slowly undulating with the ebb-and-flow of shopping hours. The Park Service transformed what had been landfills camouflaged by vociferous jungle growth, into mowed lawns overpoweringly seductive to players of baseball, soccer, and Frisbee. What had once been the repositories of the detritus of consumerism — the battered and rusted toasters, automobile axles, differentials and misshapen wheels, the torn and frayed blue plastic sheeting, and the endless piles of plastic once containing promises of hair dye, fingernail paint, sugar water for Olympic athletes and luminescent prophylactics, had been cleared, scraped, planted, and mowed. And, all this within an urban area populated by persons who had never visited Yosemite, Yellowstone, Gettysburg, Olympic, or Denali. Into this setting, the Park Service placed its staff and charged them to literally stand alongside that four lane roadway, filled bumper-to-bumper with motorists heading home with shopping bags filled with future additives to the island's ad hoc landfill, and expected them to preach preservation and historical integrity. From the 1950s on, the Park Service dispatched historians, landscape architects, archeologists, generic planners, and real estate appraisers to investigate the historical integrity of extant artifacts, and the costs associated with the creation and growth of the park; however, NPS did not investigate the cultural climate its park would inhabit.

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Last Updated: 08-May-2005