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  • By Joint Region Marianas

Fighting invasive species with fire

Christine Fejeran, Cooperative Fire Program manager for the Guam Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, begins a controlled burn during wildfire investigation training hosted by the department in the future Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz forest enhancement area in Dededo, Guam, Mar 1, 2020. Environmental conservation is an important part of the Marine Corps relocation to Guam, with the forest enhancement area being one of many areas set aside to help protect native plant and wildlife species (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. John Ewald)

Marine Corps Activity Guam and U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) worked closely with Guam Department of Agriculture (DOAG), Forestry and Soil Resources Division to coordinate and conduct a controlled burn on the southern tip of Naval Base Guam Telecommunications Station on March 1.

This initiative helped to control an invasive plant in the Forest Enhancement Area (FEA) for Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, while also providing a useful training opportunity for local and federal fire teams.

“This project was a great collaborative effort,” said Adrienne Loerzel, forest enhancement manager for Marine Corps Activity Guam. “The DOAG wa able to host a Wildland Fire Investigation Training Course and we were able to rid a portion of the FEA of a serious invasive plant in the process.” The training hosted by DOAG taught local firefighting teams how to identify the causes and sources of wildland fires. With the assistance of arson investigation instructors and the Navy Fire Department, the Forestry Team carefully conducted a series of controlled burns that were used to teach local and federal fire teams various wildland fire investigation techniques. “Wildland fires are not a federal, GovGuam or forestry issue, they are an island-wide issue, and it'll take an island-wide approach to combat it – that island-wide effort is the premise of the One Guam initiative,” said NBG Installation Fire Chief Gifton Lawrence Jr. “Federal entities, Guam Forestry and GovGuam partners sitting down together to receive training on how to identify the cause of wildland fires, and investigate the incident after the fact, solidifies the One Guam initiative.” In 2019, NBG Fire and Emergency services provided 298 mutual aid responses, including responses to Guam’s wildland fires. “Natural resource conservation is a large part of the Marine Corps relocation to Guam, and the FEA is just one great example of it,” said Albert Borja, Marine Corps Activity Guam environmental director. “This recent controlled burn exercise helped our team to learn from innovative methods of invasive plant eradication, which helps our goal of restoring populations of native plant species.” As our work continues to build the future Marine Corps Base, Camp Blaz, the Navy and Marine Corps team will remain steadfast in finding ways to partner with local and federal agencies to have a positive impact on the island of Guam.


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