By Mario Icari, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NNS) -- The Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) announced, April 20, the selection of Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake and Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Seal Beach as winners of the 2020 Secretary of the Navy Environmental Awards.
NAVFAC Southwest manages the environmental programs for the two Navy Region Southwest installations.
NAWS China Lake received award for Cultural Resources Management in the Large Installation category. NWS Seal Beach received award for Natural Resources Conservation in Small Installation category.
"It is a privilege for our program to be recognized at such high levels. While this recognition highlights three major actions, our program succeeds every day in balancing mission demands with the Navy’s cultural stewardship responsibilities at China Lake,” said Tracy Buday, NAVFAC Southwest Environmental Division Cultural Resources Program archaeologist for NAWS China Lake. “We will continue to approach our work with care to ensure we protect the cultural resources on the installation, while supporting the warfighter."
NAWS China Lake’s focus is on supporting the Navy’s research, development, acquisition, testing and evaluation (RDAT&E) of cutting-edge weapons systems for the warfighter. Out of the 1.2 million acre facility, 1.1 million of those acres are dedicated ranges for direct RDAT&E. The Cultural Resources Management Program efforts demonstrate how an environmental program can enable unlimited usage of range space for both training and RDAT&E efforts that directly tie to the warfighter, dependents and the civilian community.
NAWS China Lake’s Cultural Resources Management Team demonstrated professionalism and courage as they faced adversity by promoting effective cultural resources management through proactive stewardship of NAWS China Lake’s extensive and rich heritage assets, which includes archaeological sites, cultural items, historic built environment, and cultural landscapes, while proactively engaging and partnering with 10 Native American Tribes. The team received recognition for their work in NWS China Lake Curation Facility earthquake damage, assessment, and recovery; installation wide cultural resources support during earthquake recovery efforts; and a long planned repatriation event at San Nicolas Island.
NAWS China Lake’s Cultural Resources Management team included NAVFAC Southwest Conservation Branch Lead Michael McDaniels, Archaeologists Tracy Buday and Nancy Pahr, and Navy Region Curation Specialist Elizabeth Negrete.
"It was a great honor to see the completion of the Repatriation process as the ancestors were returned home,” said Buday. “The relationships the cultural resources program have developed working with the four Tribal partners for the San Nicolas Island reburial, and with the nine Tribal partners for China Lake have benefitted both us, and the Navy."
NWS Seal Beach Detachment Fallbrook serves as a vital strategic munitions supply point for the Pacific Fleet and the U.S. Marine Corps. The mission entails the safe and secure handling, storage, and transport of ordnance, which requires safety and security buffer zones that restrict land development, public access, and recreation activities. The metropolitan areas of San Diego to the south and Los Angeles to the north have encroached upon the boundaries of local military installations and nearby open-space preserves, creating ecological islands within a sea of development. Detachment Fallbrook is widely recognized as an important partner in the conservation of regionally significant natural resources. Approximately 90 percent of the 3,582-acre base is undeveloped which provides habitat for seven species listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), breeding ground for migratory birds, wildlife corridors for megafauna, and refugia for native flora and fauna.
NWS Seal Beach’s Natural Resources Conservation program successfully balanced stewardship of regionally significant resources and mission support that relied on early integration in planning cycles, closely collaborated with mission stakeholders, maintained excellent regulatory relationships and resource management.
The Natural Resources Conservation team’s accomplishments include reduced light pollution while enhancing NWS Seal Beach’s mission, leading readiness and enhanced preparedness of NWS Seal Beach’s Wildland Fire Management plan, and leveraging local climate adaptation experience to benefit Department of Defense. NWS Seal Beach’s natural resources conservation team’s efforts were recognized for saving the military more than a million dollars during installation of a pipeline by allowing open trenching across Fallbrook Creek, streamlining project approvals and consultations, and negotiating innovative solutions to save tens of thousands of dollars and time from additional protracted environmental reviews and assessments.