MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Combat Center Explosive Ordnance Disposal conducted demolition operations in the Rainbow Canyon Training Area, Oct. 8, 2015, to better the survivability of wildlife aboard the installation.
EOD assisted Natural Resource and Environmental Affairs Division in creating level areas for placement of two 2,500-gallon underground water containers designed to store and provide water for Big Horn Sheep, a sensitive species that migrates throughout the Combat Center. According to www.fs.usda.gov, if a species is classified as a sensitive species it is not yet endangered, but needs special attention to maintain and improve their population. According to Brent Husung, natural resource specialist, NREA, that is exactly what this project intends to do, and with a little help from EOD, the guzzlers can become a reality.
“We are assisting NREA to by performing excavation demolition operations at two separate sites while concurrently meeting our training requirements,” said Sgt. Alexander Strait, EOD technician, EOD. “Today, we had the opportunity to utilize our skills with explosives and explosive effects. We went out with several types of explosives and got an idea of how much more we will need to finish the job.”
EOD used three M2A4 shaped charges, approximately 40 blocks trinitrotoluene, approximately 30 sticks of dynamite, 20 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives, and an M107 155mm High Explosive projectile to level the area for the water tanks.
“The training allowed us to observe the way the ground moved in the area,” said Sgt. Robert Bouchard, EOD technician, EOD. “Thanks to this, we know that the ground in the area is soft for a few feet then we hit almost solid rock. We are going back out there with more explosives so we can finish the task and prepare the area for heavy equipment to dig out to the depth they need.”
EOD will continue to work to create a 40 square-foot area, level enough for two 2,500-gallon underground tanks. The tanks are intended to provide a water source for bighorn sheep and other wildlife throughout the combat center to find fresh water.
“The purpose of the guzzlers is to provide a renewable water source primarily for the Big Horn Sheep, who will only travel through areas where there is water,” said Husung. “They are a self-sustaining water source that refills itself with rain water or snow that falls. Since the natural springs have begun to dry up, we are adding these man-made water sources for the combat center wildlife.”
The combat center has put into place a five-year Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan to contribute to the installation’s environment, according to Husung. Protecting the bighorn sheep is one goal set by the plan.
“As good stewards, we need to take care of the environment that we are using,” said Husung. “The bighorn sheep are also what we call an indicator species, which means that if the sheep are healthy and doing well, the environment is doing well.”
With the installation of the guzzlers, the bighorn sheep population will have the opportunity to grow as they migrate through the base as well as return to the Combat Center in the future, according to Husung.