MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER BRIDGEPORT, Calif. – Sixty-four Marines and sailors aboard the Mountain Warfare Training Center participated in Operation Mountain Sweep Oct. 18 and 19 in the Toiyabe National Forest.
The MWTC conducts the biannual cleanup effort to ensure that the training areas used by the installation, to train military units in various types of mountaineering skills, are kept clean to ensure national forest and wildlife preservation.
Parts of the Toiyabe National Forest used by the MWTC are also accessible to civilians making the biannual clean-up not just a must for units going through future courses, but for other outdoor enthusiasts who visit the park.
“It’s really important that we keep the area clean,” said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Wennberg officer in charge of Operation Sweep, “Being good stewards of the land, as well as keeping good relations with the U.S. Forest Service, has allowed us to add over 12,000 acres to our training areas.”
Captain Andrew Irvin, the natural and cultural resource manager for MWTC, agrees the mountain sweep positively affects training operations here, but that the most profound benefits are for the environment and wildlife.
By disposing of trash, personnel with MWTC get rid of unnatural food products predators would otherwise eat, combating a potential explosion in the rodent population, he said.
“Because the predators would eat garbage, they wouldn’t rely on rodents to fulfill their diet,” Irvin said. “An increase in rodent activity increases the risk of plague and the Hanta virus, both of which can jump to humans.
“It is our training area, and it is our responsibility,” he added. “Not only do we pick up Marine Corps trash, we pick up civilian trash from hunters, campers and fishers. What we do is identify the problem areas in the training area for the National Forest Service, and then we take care of it.”
Private First Class Yong Kim, a supply administration and operations specialist at MWTC, took the chance to get out of the office Tuesday to help with the effort and reflected on his fortune as he picked up trash.
“It was good to get out and see all the views of the training center while helping to clean the mountain of trash left behind by campers and others that use the park.” he said.
Wennberg said he has no doubt clean-up projects will continue into the future at MWTC as units continue to prepare and train for the deployments. Future clean-ups will also preserve lands for visitors and outdoor enthusiasts.