An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 conducts aerial refueling during Integrated Training Exercise (ITX) 1-18 over Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms

Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey

A Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft hovers over the desert before departing from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms

U.S. Army Special Forces snipers, assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Operational Detachment-A and U.S. Air Force joint terminal attack controllers, assigned to the 284th Air Support Operation Squadron, guide AH1 Cobra attack helicopters, assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing conducting a close air support mission during Integrated Training Exercise 2-16 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Feb. 16, 2016.

Earth Day 2017: What I’ll be doing

As a volunteer with (and President of) Mojave Desert Land Trust, I’ll be working with our volunteers and Marines from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California to continue our work in restoring a 640-acre parcel of land we recently acquired that abuts Joshua Tree National Park. Here’s a recent photo (taken by one of our volunteers or staff). Working with the Marines is always fun, and an honor. But because I’m old enough to be each of their grandfather, I get really protective of the men and women in the Marine Corps, and worry about them.

A description of this parcel, and what our intentions are, from the San Bernardino County Sentinel:

The land had been owned for over a decade by Danmark Development, which had designs of subdividing the property for residential development. The property, an expanse of Joshua trees, piñon pines and brush, populated by no people and a smattering of desert tortoise, badgers, mule deer and an occasional bobcat, includes a ridge in the Little San Bernardino Mountains that presents a spectacular vantage over Long Canyon, both Yucca and Coachella valleys and the San Gorgonio Wilderness peaks to the west.

The land, nevertheless, is marred by debris, trash, old tires, discarded appliances, abandoned vehicles and upwards of 40,000 bullet casings, as over the years people have used it as a dump and unauthorized shooting range. An effort to clean the property up over the next several years is being planned.

It is the Mojave Desert Land Trust’s intention that the 640 acres will be absorbed into Joshua Tree National Park, becoming a protected area, meaning it will be off limits for development of any sort but will be open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, and will stand as a wildlife preserve. This last function is significant, as the property is located within the wildlife corridor between Joshua Tree National Park and the Sand to Snow National Monument.

I have a couple of events bookended around Earth Day. Tomorrow, several volunteers and staff with the Wildlands Conservancy are guiding 200 elementary school kids (4th through 6th grades) through the Wildlands’ Mission Creek Preserve to explore and study desert wildflowers. Then on Sunday, I’m volunteering to work with a group that will be hiking along the Pine City trail in Joshua Tree National Park. All good stuff. I’ll be ready to do my couch potato thing Sunday evening.

Marines dismount from a Light Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle to raid a compound during the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Combined Arms Exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, June 12, 2016.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery Laning)

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dacotah E. Roskop fires an M27 infantry automatic rifle down range on Camp Wilson, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 20, 2015. Roskop is an automatic rifleman assigned to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson 

Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines patrol towards their objective during an airfield seizure exercise as a part of Exercise Steel Knight 2014 aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Dec. 11, 2013. Steel Knight enables 1st Marine Division to test and refine its command and control capabilities by acting as the headquarters element for a forward-deployed Marine expeditionary force.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Justin A. Bopp/ Released)

Heavy Ruck: Check

Long distances walking: check

Soon to be my life. 


Pfc. Cristian Mejia, Javelin gunner, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and a native of Raleigh, N.C., shoots a javelin missile during a live-fire exercise at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Jan. 26, 2014. Bravo Co. is dedicated to helicopter operations during their upcoming combat deployment to Afghanistan. The Marines were transported to the range by CH-46 sea knight and CH-53E super sea stallion helicopters. After they landed, the Marines maneuvered through a simulated urban environment with unique shock-absorbent walls. This allowed for them to engage in realistic live-fire training.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Scanlan / released)