While it may be commonplace in Twentynine Palms, it’s not often that we get a presentation by a uniformed Marine in Greater Palm Springs. But at our Sustainability Forum on March 13, we were lucky enough to have Maj. David Tran, Director of Environmental Affairs at MCAGCC as our guest speaker. He shared the most up-to-date information about sustainability initiatives aboard the base.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the environment is no mere afterthought to the Marine Corps. They take environmental stewardship as seriously as they do their training. Representing a base that covers over 1,100 square miles of fragile desert, the environmental and sustainability experts aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms have a big job to do.

Sustainability Highlights

  1. Because it’s so isolated, the cost to bring in water and power is very high. That’s why MCAGCC is, by design, a self-sustaining base. It has its own aquifer and its own water and power infrastructure.
  2. As a premier training ground, MCAGCC hosts units from all over the world. Every unit that comes for training attends a “shotgun style” sustainability class before training begins. This helps visitors to better understand how to protect the desert even while using it to train for conflict.
  3. On base, Marines “train like they fight.” That means they don’t use more resources while training than are absolutely necessary: this replicates real conditions in the field.
  4. MCAGCC has an award-winning desert tortoise program. One of UCLA’s leading tortoise biologists works closely with their office.
  5. No solid waste is exported from the base. There is a large and labor-intensive recycling operation in place, which will someday be made easier by automation.
  6. Eligible employees are encouraged to work remotely one day per pay period to cut down on their use of fossil fuels for commuting.
  7. The base generates about $1.4M in revenues annually from recycling programs. Other bases contract these services out, but at MCAGCC they are entirely owned, operated, and staffed by base personnel. These funds go towards pollution prevention and quality of life programs for Marines stationed in Twentynine Palms.

The next time you thank a Marine for their service to our country, you may also want to thank them for caring for the desert that they inhabit. They are protecting our country in more ways than one.

Sustainability Forums are made possible by a grant from SoCal Gas. Check out our events page for upcoming dates!