Marines

Lejeune protects endangered plants, dune-builder

12 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor A. Barrera

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is home to a number of infantry, artillery, logistical and special operations commands. Day and night, these Marines train on all types of terrain, both on land and water.

In spite of the continuous training regiments, environmental personnel at Camp Lejeune watch where these Marines tread to ensure their training does not affect the diverse plant life.

Among the countless number of plants that decorate the Lejeune area two stand out above the rest. The North Carolina Fish and Wildlife Service lists the Rough-Leafed Loosestrife as an “endangered” species and classifies the Seabeach Amaranth as a “threatened” species.

Craig Ten Brink, the Threatened and Endangered Species Program manager for Camp Lejeune, said similar protective measures are in place for both endangered and threatened species.

Environmental personnel have taken proactive measures such as prescribed burning and blocking areas to protect these endangered species.

Prescribed burning is used to remove foliage and shrubbery that would otherwise prevent sunlight from reaching the smaller, endangered plants. Blocking areas with signs, ropes and other cautionary measures that identify where these endangered species reside helps service members identify where they may and may not tread.

Ten Brink said, good management and prescribed burning has helped the Threatened and Endangered Species Program personnel find an increasing amount of Rough-Leafed Loosestrife. Finding more Loosestrife could mean the plant may be removed from the endangered species list someday.

Another way endangered plants are being protected is through close monitoring of their growth and population. Environmental personnel also paint a white band around trees and place endangered species signs to warn people not to tamper with them.

According to the North Carolina Endangered and Threatened Species website, www.fws.gov/nc-es/es/, the Seabeach Amaranth, a plant which plays a big role in the natural creation of sand is also treated with extra care.

The Amaranth catches and slows down oceanic winds which in turn drop sand that is blown and creates little piles which, with the help of other Amaranths, can fortify dunes throughout Onslow Beach.

Ten Brink also said, off-road vehicles, erosion and the construction of beach stabilization structures are some of the biggest threats posed to the Amaranth.

The Fish and Wildlife Service monitors the status of plants aboard Camp Lejeune, and if the plants are prospering then Camp Lejeune gets some leeway on where Marines can conduct their training.

The mission of the Camp Lejeune Threatened and Endangered species program is to support the Marine Corps mission, said Ten Brink. By protecting endangered species not only does the environment benefit but, ultimately the Marines aboard Camp Lejeune as well.