According to Major General Michael R. Lehnert, the commander of Marine Corps bases in Southern California, “A country worth defending is a country worth preserving.” This philosophy is being put into practice on Camp Pendleton and other bases.

Camp Pendleton, at the northern border of San Diego County, is the crown jewel of Southern California’s coast. From coastal estuaries and sage scrub-covered hills, to the Santa Margarita River Valley, to vast oak savannahs and native bunchgrasses, its 125,000 acres are an ecological cornerstone and a repository for endangered species.

On a recent tour of the base, environmentalists saw a wide range of military facilities and training, but also a strong conservation ethic that seeks compatibility. For example, populations of least Bell’s vireos, an endangered migratory riparian bird, have skyrocketed under resource management plans developed in coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. A Conservation Exposition in March of this year provided a forum for discussions on ecosystem management, “buffering” the base with habitat acquisitions, and “best practices” for contractors who work on the base. The base is also a leader on recycling and energy efficiency.

We look forward to working in partnership with the Marine Corps, which is setting an example for responsible environmental stewardship.