Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Eleven Marines with Wounded Warriors Battalion West volunteered their time at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo Valley, Calif. June 15. They cleaned up the trails for both the visitors and the animals that call it their home.
The 31,000 acre preserve is one of the largest cottonwood and willow riparian habitats in California. It is an area meant to protect rare and endangered wildlife, promote the growth and restoration of a wide variety of plants, and offer educational opportunities to children from schools in the surrounding areas.
The Marines regularly volunteer in outreaches to the community. They conduct about one event per week, working with different national and local organizations. Their mission – to build confidence in Marines and reach out to the community.
“It gives Marines a chance to give back to the community,” said Cpl. Norman Robinson, WWBn. West. “The United States supports Marines and this how we show we appreciate it.”
The Marines split up into groups and scoured the man-made trails, clearing the pathways and taking unwanted materials, such as broken branches and loose grass and leaves, away.
All the Marines contributed in one way or another, raking the trail, lifting heavy lumber out to recycling bins, or throwing the broken pieces of plants onto a tarp to be taken away by another volunteer.
“A lot of our guys are wounded or injured and physically limited,” said Gunnery Sgt. Eric Esparza, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, WWBn, West. “None-the-less, they can still give back and support the community.”
By the afternoon there was a noticeable difference between what had been and what was. And just in time. As the Marines finished, a group of people entered the trail.
“I enjoyed giving back to the community,” Robinson said. “We did some work and had fun.”