A petition to list Yilan County’s Turtle Island (Gueishan Island, 龜山島) as a county-level cultural heritage site was accepted on Wednesday, the county government said on Saturday, adding that the outcome would be decided within six months.
The petition was launched by former Turtle Island resident Chien Ying-chun (簡英俊), who said he wanted to preserve history and his childhood memories.
Records show that the island was first inhabited by people during the mid-1800s, and at its peak, was home to about 700 people.
Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times
Yilan County Government negotiated the relocation of the island’s inhabitants in 1974 and the Ministry of National Defense closed it off for military purposes.
It was reopened to the public in 2000.
Chien, who lived on the island for 23 years before being relocated, said that the ministry had damaged property on the island without notifying the residents.
Yilan lost significant cultural heritage assets thanks to the ministry’s actions, he said, adding that the Northeast and Yilan Coast National Scenic Area administrative office is suspected of introducing foreign plants onto the island, which could affect local flora.
The administrative office said it considers the island an ecological preserve and has not attempted to develop it, adding that it hopes the tourist center will be exempt from the cultural asset petition so that it can be repaired.
The island has a unique culture, and unique tales involving a Kavalan princess and a “turtle general,” as well as other literature about the island, Chien said.
The island has significant and unique importance, to the people who used to live on it and to Taiwanese, and should not be allowed to be developed, he said.
The Yilan Cultural Affairs Bureau on Wednesday dispatched officials to the island for a preliminary investigation.
The county government said it would compile a report regarding the petition, which would be used as the basis for public hearings that it would hold at Toucheng Township (頭城).
No date has yet been set.
A cultural heritage review committee would be convened within six months of the bureau’s visit to the island to review the petition, the county government said.
Should the committee approve the petition, the island would become a cultural heritage site, it said.
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