MORONGO VALLEY, Calif. --
MORONGO VALLEY, Calif. – When Marines and sailors are not training or on liberty, many take the time to volunteer in the local community cleaning up trash and tidying up the area’s parks.
On Oct. 7, 19 Marines and three sailors from Combat Logistics Battalion 7 ventured to the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo Valley, Calif., to help the caretakers clear the hiking trails for local residents and other travelers to enjoy.
“I took a class at National University about a month ago and it was part of a field trip that we came out here,” said Staff Sgt. Rocco Possemato, the training chief for CLB-7. “That’s when Betty asked us if we had any volunteers who could help clean up the preserve.”
Betty Zeller, one of the on-site hosts and administrators of the preserve, said most everything in the preserve is done by volunteers from the Combat Center and the local community. The staff and volunteers at the preserve are able to handle small jobs by themselves, but require additional resources for more large-scale clean-ups.
“Rocco came out here and volunteered, which was wonderful,” said the Bryon, Ohio, native. “We have a handful of volunteers here, but many of us are older and can’t always complete these big jobs.”
The CLB-7 volunteers started early. After arriving at the preserve around 7 a.m., they almost immediately began working. Many of the trails were so overgrown it was hard for hikers to traverse them, which meant there was a lot of work to be done.
“We conducted a site survey last week and found there was at least a mile of trails that needed to be cleared out,” said Possemato, a Northlake, Ill., native. “We recognized there was a lot of work to do, but we worked hard to get the job done.”
By 2 p.m., the Marines and sailors had cleared out nearly a mile’s worth of trails and trimmed the tall grass and shrubs surrounding the bird observation deck. The work was hard and the hours were long, but the CLB-7 volunteers recognized what they had accomplished.
“Coming out here today was a great experience,” said Pfc. Anthony Smith, a tank mechanic with CLB-7, and native of Claiborne County, Tenn. “It was great to come out here and help out, see something new and break away from our day-to-day work.”
The Marines and sailors of CLB-7 plan to conduct volunteer work in the community at least once a month – a gesture the staff at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve appreciates.
“We’re very thankful for all the work you guys put in today,” said Dee Zeller, one of the on-site hosts of the preserve. “Please know you are welcome here any time, and if you come here for recreation, you can always stop by and say hello.”
For more information about the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, call 760-363-7190 or visit http://www.bigmorongo.org.