Explosives Safety Awareness on the former California-Arizona Maneuver Area


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Range Support Center, Bureau of Land Management, National System of Public Lands. Explosives Safety Awareness on the former California-Arizona Maneuver Area Narrator: Welcome to the California and Arizona recreational area a vast landscape stretching over 300 miles of the lower Colorado River. The lands along the lower reaches of the Colorado are rich in year round opportunities to hike, camp, hunt, fish, rock hound, and even ride off high vehicles in designated areas all managed by the Bureau of Land Management. As you explore and enjoy the natural wonders that abound here you also need to appreciate that you are on a formerly used defense site. Learning a little history of the area’s military activity and following the three R’s of explosive safety will help you enjoy a safe visit. During World War II, the United States War Department saw a need to prepare for fighting in the deserts of North Africa. The landscape and climate in Southwestern Arizona and Southeastern California were similar to North Africa leading the War Department to establish the Desert Training Center or the DTC on April 30th 1942. At that time General George S. Patton, Jr. was appointed commanding general in charge of the training center. In October 1943 the DTC’s name was changed to the California – Arizona Maneuver Area or C-AMA. Between 1942 and 1944 C-AMA encompassed about 12 million acres of land in the Southwestern United States. Approximately 1 million troops trained at the 10 camps developed at C-AMA which consisted of facilities from housing, health, sanitation, and the safeguarding of government property. C-AMA’s purpose was threefold – to train infantry and mechanized units to live and fight in the desert; develop and test equipment; and create a tactical doctrine for desert warfare. Special emphasis was placed on training operations in remote locations where the water supply was restricted and the infantry was under constant threat of attack. In January 1944 the War Department announced that internal operations and training exercises at C-AMA would come to an end on May 1st 1944. Before returning the land to civilian use the Department of Defense ordered two major operations to clear C-AMA of unexploded ordinance remaining on the land. The first clearing occurred in 1944 when all known C-AMA impact areas were cleared. The second clearing operation was conducted between 1951 and 1954 by two detachments of the 9800 technical service unit engineer range clearance team. In 1991 the US Army Corp of Engineers began conducting site surveys of the 10 camps at C-AMA. The results of the survey indicated that these camps were eligible for the Formerly Used Defense Sites program or FUDS. Under the FUDS program the US Army Corp of Engineers manages the environmental restoration of properties that were utilized by the Department of Defense. At C-AMA the Corp ultimately designated over 2.5 million acres of land for the FUDS program. Because munitions debris may be found on land that was part of C-AMA it is important to be able to recognize and respond appropriately should you encounter any during your visit. While you enjoy the resources of this vast area be sure to follow the three R’s of explosive safety. Recognize. If you come upon anything you suspect could be military munitions – leave it alone! Do not touch, move, or disturb the munitions item. All munitions, whether intact or in fragments, present a potential explosive hazard. If you suspect that you have encountered a munitions item stop! Scan the area for additional munitions, but do not move closer. Most importantly do not use two way radios or cell phones within 100 feet of the find unless it is an emergency. Retreat. Immediately and carefully leave the area following the same path on which you entered. If you can, mark the general area, not the munition, in some manner. Report. Immediately notify local law enforcement of what you saw and where you saw it by calling 911. Describe where the munitions item was encountered and provide a general description of its size, shape, color, and markings. For additional information regarding C-AMA or to obtain information on military munitions projects please contact the US Army Corp of Engineers Los Angeles District Public Affairs office by email or by calling 602-230-6990. Happy Trails and be safe. The information in this film focused on public and private lands that were associated with C-AMA. Other lands outside of C-AMA’s historical boundaries may contain ordance from other government activities. Please remember the 3 R’s of Explosives Safety no matter where your adventures take you. Recognize, Retreat, Report!

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