MCAS YUMA, Ariz. --
In order to train “America’s finest” into the tactical warriors of today’s world, Marines are challenged in real-life training scenarios that test their ability to work against the elements they may face in combat environments around the world.
The Barry M. Goldwater Range has been affording service members the opportunity to perfect their skills in a desert environment for decades.
On September 20, 2019 the Arizona Game and Fish Commission awarded the Department of Defense the Award of Excellence for its dedication and contributions to conserving and protecting Arizona’s wildlife and outdoor heritage on the Barry M. Goldwater Range and other DoD lands in southwestern Arizona.
“Everything this team is doing here, in the long run helps protect our ability to continue the training we need to do and protect and serve this country," Col. David A. Suggs, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
“It’s important to recognize the Marine Corps as a whole for the fact that a very small team is doing a huge job,” said Col. David A. Suggs, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. “All the hard work they are doing is to ensure that we have future use of the ranges.”
The award was designated for the management of wildlife and recreational resources on the BMGR and neighboring DoD lands, which comprise of the BMGR West, managed by the MCAS Yuma; the BMGR East, managed by Luke Air Force Base; and Yuma Proving Grounds managed by the U.S. Army.
“The BMGR is one of the largest ranges in the military inventory,’ said Randy English, the MCAS Yuma conservation manager. “The training we do on the range, and within the larger BOB Stump Training Range Complex, you can’t replicate it anywhere else because the U.S. doesn’t have that kind of airspace or ground space elsewhere.”
Photo by Cpl. Nicole Rogge
The BMGR consists of about 1.7 million acres of land and MCAS Yuma manages over 650,000 of those acres. Part of the Department of Defense’s mission is to protect the plants and wildlife native to Arizona residing on the range.
“There are endangered wildlife, specifically on that piece of land,” said English. “We have the Sonoran pronghorn, which is federally endangered. But thanks to the efforts of DoD, Arizona Game and Fish Department, US Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners, the pronghorn population, which numbered as few as 21 animals in the US in 2002, has climbed to over 400 animals currently. We also have the flat-tailed horned lizard, which is a species of special management concern, but not endangered because we’ve managed it appropriately. That’s part of the reason we are being recognized.”
The 1999 Military Lands Withdrawal Act plays a big role in allowing the military to manage and care for the ranges while performing crucial training that would not be possible elsewhere, and is slated for renewal in 2024.
MCAS Yuma’s conservation team will be officially recognized at the Commission’s Annual Awards Banquet January 25, 2020.