Marine Corps Installations West (MCIWEST) is comprised of five Marine Corps Bases and Air Stations in California and one Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. We provide the base and range infrastructure that enables our Marines to develop and sustain operational readiness. Marines are our nation's first responders for global contingencies. To be effective, we must train continuously under the most realistic conditions possible.
It is a common misconception that training Marines and maintaining sustainable habitats for endangered species and environmentally sensitive plants are mutually exclusive. Due to expanding urbanization and the suitable habitats that our training grounds provide, hundreds of these species have made our installations their home. We at MCIWEST are committed to coexistence ensuring that neither realistic training nor our natural heritage is compromised.
Marines routinely deploy into harm's way throughout the world and our western bases are optimized to prepare them to operate in diverse climates. From Pendleton's coastal beaches and Yuma's low desert, to the high desert of Twentynine Palms and the cold weather of the Sierras at Bridgeport, Marines develop 'environmental awareness' while training in various conditions that prepare them for any contingency.
When home, Marines are proud of being good neighbors. From assisting in disaster response to supporting local charities, volunteering in community organizations, and contributing to economic vitality, we are consistently involved community partners. We are a conscientious steward of the lands that the American people have entrusted to us. Our responsibility extends beyond that of providing our volunteer force with the tools to train, but to do so in an environmentally responsible way.
Aside from ordnance impact areas, most of the undeveloped land on military reservations is dedicated to training areas and safety buffer zones. It is this shared open space that requires a symbiosis of Marines and many protected species.
How well do your Marines manage their training areas and ranges to ensure sustainable natural habitat? The following graph shows that even with relatively less land, and compared even to government agencies specifically tasked with environmental preservation, America's military installations host a disproportionately larger number of federally protected species.
This success is not merely fortuitous. The Marine Corps and the Department of the Navy employ environmental professionals who partner with environmental protection officials to provide guidance to range managers and operational forces in an effort to avoid certain areas at critical points in species breeding, gestation, and development cycles. With careful, research based planning, the missions of habitat protection and training Marines can be accomplished.
Each of these environments has unique flora and fauna, and our installation maneuver areas provide native species the open space that enables them to thrive. This geographic diversity, combined with aggressive land and environmental management programs, to include innovative breeding and replacement programs, places MCIWEST installations at the forefront of endangered and protected species preservation programs.
Green Base Program
Buildings and other constructed facilities represent a significant and continuing commitment of Marine Corps resources. Regionally, the Marine Corps will spend more than $4.7 billion on new construction between 2009 and 2014. We will spend more than $260 million to maintain these facilities each year. As responsible stewards of the environment we are accountable to the nation to utilize our precious resources in a way that is both efficient and sustainable.
It is our policy to adopt “Green Basing” programs to reduce our environmental footprint to the minimum necessary to accomplish our national security mission. In real terms, this means that all new construction and renovation will comply with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Standard of the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED concept is to design, build, and operate sustainable facilities by taking special consideration for energy consumption, water usage, waste management and the use of sustainable or recyclable materials to minimize the project's construction and operational impact on the environment.
Sustainable practices result in reduced operating costs, optimized equipment life-cycle, improved air & water quality, and reduced strain on the local utility infrastructure (power, water, sewer).
When practical, recycled and renewable materials are used to reduce the requirement for waste management, and to eliminate ozone depleting compounds.
Where possible, we generate electricity with renewable resources such as geothermal energy, solar power, or wind turbines. The energy produced is used on the installations or re-introduced to the electrical power grid to offset that used in other locations.
Our programs have received national recognition: both Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow have received awards as Net Zero Green Bases by the Department of Defense.
New and renovated facilities and barracks are incorporating automated 'smart' building controls, solar heating, and water conservation systems. Alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal are being included into installation utility plans. In March, 2009, installation of the Marine Corps' first wind turbine was completed at our logistics base in Barstow, Calif. It provides 1.5 megawatts, or 30% of the base's electrical power needs. The Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California has been drawing on a 1.1 megawatt solar farm since 2003, once the largest photovoltaic system in the U.S. military.
At Camp Pendleton, natural gas powered vehicles have already joined the fleet of base vehicles and the base is partnering with commercial enterprises and the state of California in researching the future use of hydrogen powered vehicles. Recycling programs at MCIWEST installations recover materials ranging from aluminum cans to expended ammunition casings, all a part of our commitment to the environment and conserving natural resources.
In a growing and vibrant nation, economic and environmental demands will continue to challenge policymakers who must balance the needs of people with different priorities. How we use our public lands, protect endangered species, ensure economic growth, and maximize human health and productivity will depend on how well divergent interest groups converge to support the human good. We cannot afford to turn reasoned pragmatic discussion about our shared natural resources into litigious conflict that produces winners and losers. MCIWEST is a proud member of the Western Regional Partnership and many other organizations who seek to find common benefit among diverse interest groups.