Twentynine Palms -- TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - When visiting Section 33, a 623-acre site, Morongo Basin residents and visitors can behold stretches of serene hiking trails and a natural habitat teeming with native plants and animals. Few would guess that the acreage was once used as illegal dumping ground and targeted for a 2,400-unit housing development.
Section 33, located just south of California Highway 62 between La Contenta Road and Joshua Tree Memorial Park, is scheduled for the fourth annual cleanup effort between Combat Center Marines and Morongo Basin community members April 23, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. until noon. The land was purchased by the Mojave Desert Land Trust in conjunction with the Combat Center, The Trust for Public Land and the California Wildlife Conservation Board.
“Mojave Desert Land Trust works closely with the base in projects that support flight and wildlife corridors,” said Danielle Segura, executive director, MDLT. “We celebrate the collaboration that made the cleanup of Section 33 a success with this Earth Day event every year.”
Volunteers from the Combat Center, MDLT, Armed Services YMCA, Morongo Basin Transit Authority as well as the local community will be contributing to the cleanup.
“It’s a basin-wide event,” said Kristina Becker, community liaison, Community Plans Liaison Office. “Community members can come and work side-by-side with Marines and family members to do trail restoration and remove trash to help preserve this property for family and children to enjoy for years to come.”
According to Becker, the event has previously drawn more than 100 participants who pitched in by maintaining trails and removing trash and debris.
“The base always wants to be an active part of the community,” Becker said. “Through these events we afford Marines the opportunity to meet new people and learn about desert landscapes and conservation.”
The Department of Defense’s Readiness Environmental Protection Integration Program played a role in the installation’s participation in the event. According to http://www.repi.mil/, the program is a key tool for combating encroachment by protecting against land development that destroys or fragments an endangered species' habitat and pushes those species onto less developed military lands, which in turn limits or restricts military training, testing and operations.
“I think it’s great that we can all come together to help preserve this land,” Segura said. “I feel that we have a really unique partnership with that base that works really well to support a healthy community.”