MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs staff showed Brad Mitzelfelt, San Bernardino County First District supervisor, to the Combat Center Tuesday.
Mitzelfelt plays a major role in keeping the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors updated with environmental issues, and spent the day learning how NREA works to improve the environment at the base.
Brig. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, Combat Center commanding general, was the first to welcome Mitzelfelt and his staff to the Combat Center before they started their tour.
After the-meet-and greet with Spiese, Brad Henen, NREA ecologist, led the tour to the Tortoise Research and Captive Rearing Site at Combat Center Sand Hill Training Area and explained NREA’s involvement with the threatened desert tortoises aboard the base.
The TRACRS is a facility dedicated to monitoring desert tortoise egg production and disease status using cutting edge technology.
The highly qualified staff of the Natural Resources Section involved with TRACRS helps by bringing female tortoises to the facility pens to lay their eggs.
The TRACRS protects the nests and baby tortoises through their growing stages until they are large enough to become resistant to predators such as ravens, coyotes and ground squirrels.
The genetic, growth and bacterial analyses will also help in the assessment of the Combat Center population, according to the TRACRS information sheet.
“The TRACRS program is an effective way to save desert tortoises on base that the county would like to implement on private property,” said Metzelfelt. “It was very nice to get an opportunity to see it first-hand.”
Henen also explained the NREA involvement with Marines in case of direct contact with desert tortoises.
“The main focus is to keep the tortoises in the local area, but Marines occasionally encounter them in the training area,” said Henen. “Every Marine who enters the training area is made aware of the proper steps to take when they spot a tortoise.”
After the informational walkthrough of TRACRS, the tour moved on to the Range Residue Processing Center to learn about the recycling process.
Mike Quintana, RRRC supervisor, explained how used ammunition and materials from the Combat Center training area are reused.
“I was very impressed by the base’s recycling programs,” said Mitzelfelt. “It’s good to see the base takes recycling very seriously and they’re doing well.”
Mitzelfelt and his staff moved from the RRRC to learn about the base’s progress with residential recycling from Sue Corney, Qualified Recycling Program manager.
“We’re working to establish a recycling center on the base so Marines and their families don’t have to go out into town to receive cash value for their recyclable items,” said Jim Lessard, NREA deputy director.
The NREA staff thoroughly informed Mitzelfelt of desert tortoise protection and recycling to give the county supervisor a better understanding of the steps being taken to improve the Combat Center environment.