Environment takes center stage on final day of LA Fleet Week – Daily News

LA Fleet Week may be drawing to a close this Memorial Day, with the holiday drawing large crowds, but some organizations are hoping their outreach will last over the long weekend.

The event — the first in-person Fleet Week since 2019 — featured four days of combat by the armed forces, targeting naval services including the US Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. Today’s events concluded with a Memorial Day Service honoring veterans across the country.

While Fleet Week offers attendees a look behind the closed doors of the military’s technical operations and equipment, it’s also a forum for community outreach. This year, environmental education took center stage at Fleet Week—with attendees ranging from the Navy’s Stewards of the Sea to San Pedro’s Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

“What we’re talking about are the environmental actions that the U.S. Navy needs to take to protect, conserve, and preserve the environment,” said Helen Haase, environmental public affairs coordinator for the Stewards of the Sea program. the Navy.

Founded in 2013, Stewards of the Sea is sponsored by the US Fleet Forces Command. Its goal, according to the program’s website, is to educate “about the Navy’s environmental policies and initiatives — and to increase support for its training and grassroots activities among public, scientific and regulatory communities.”

Stewards of the Sea has several environmentally-focused programs — and with the help of biologists, geologists, and historians, it’s helping to conserve, restore and conserve the areas most affected by Department of Defense operations across the globe. country.

Stewards of the Sea settled in just off the USS Iowa for the long weekend during Fleet Week in hopes of educating the community about the Navy’s environmental protection efforts.

“Our interest in the environment has to do with the fact that we overdeveloped the southwestern region,” Haase said, “and that much of the (Department of Defense) land was ultimately home to many endangered species.”

Haase cited San Clemente Island, which lies off the coast of California and is used solely for Navy training operations, as an example of the habitat restoration the Navy is undertaking — on land they still actively use.

“We study them (wildlife from the native island), and we make sure we don’t train where they have babies or during the mating season,” Haase said. “We have some great stories about species living on the island that have been removed from the endangered species list.”

Since the U.S. government began watching environmental protection regulations, Haase said, the Navy has learned to adapt as stewards of Earth-friendly operations.

“We put a lot of effort into it and we are very proud of it – otherwise we would lose the trust of the public and the country we work in,” Haase said. “We have better standards and we follow them, and there are a lot of people who are very passionate about doing their job well.”

Also in attendance at Fleet Week was the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention, known as Cal Fire.

The California Department of State controls 31 million acres of private California wildlife, according to its website. In addition to providing vital wildfirefighting services, the department provides a range of emergency services to local municipalities in 36 counties across the state.

As California wildfires continue to worsen in intensity, frequency and duration — fueled by rising temperatures and climate change — CAL FIRE has made an effort to shift some of its focus from wildfire response to wildfire prevention.

“The department’s fire prevention program consists of multiple activities, including conservation engineering, vegetation management, fire planning, education and law enforcement,” the agency’s website says.

For Windy Bouldin, head of the Office of Program Accountability at CAL FIRE, Fleet Week serves two essential functions: it is an opportunity to educate the public about fire prevention tips and to connect with veterans seeking post-service a new career. In addition to her position as accountability chief, she is the coordinator of RVETS – short for Returning Veterans: Enlisting Their Skills, which aims to connect veterans with career resources.

“We have a lot of partnerships with the military and its various branches,” Bouldin said, noting that many veterans are trying to transition into firefighting after service. “What we’re saying is that this is Cal Fire’s foundational effort to integrate and transition service workers and their families into the service of CAL FIRE.”

The process can be daunting, Bouldin said, and RVETS’s mission is to clarify requirements and match veterans with jobs that match their existing skills.

“It’s quite a labor-intensive process to get (a job) with the state,” she said, “so we’re trying to help them do that because most don’t understand that the application you’re submitting might just be for an exam and not a real vacancy.”

California has several benefits for veterans that they may not be aware of.

“It can be overwhelming, and often veterans are underemployed,” Bouldin said. “It’s necessary to match veterans with jobs at their skill level — or it’s a waste of talent that weighs on morale.”

Expanding the pool of applicants who can apply for positions at CAL FIRE, Bouldin said, will help the agency fulfill its mission of statewide fire management, prevention and response.

Fleet Week has also helped CAL FIRE provide basic fire prevention tips to the public, Bouldin said.

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, just a few blocks from the Fleet Week expo in San Pedro, also made an appearance this year.

The aquarium’s booth — filled with educational materials and conserved marine creatures on display — provided Fleet Week visitors with a hands-on opportunity to hatch grunion eggs.

Native to Southern California, grunion is known for their annual nighttime shore excursion to lay eggs. They’re the only fish to do this — and that, along with the iridescent glow produced by the moon’s reflection on their scales, has drawn hundreds of crowds to local beaches to watch the process.

“We want to teach the kids more about the aquarium,” says Mckenna Quick, who works at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. “We brought in the grunion so they could hatch one of the fish native to our shores — we’re one of the few beaches where they’re most common.”

Even some residents, Quick said, have never heard of the grunion.

“It’s really cool for them to be able to come to the beach and see these animals — and then come back to the aquarium and hatch these eggs themselves,” Quick said.

Aside from grunion hatching and viewing, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium offers whale watching excursions, local island tours, nature-focused lecture series, and more.

While Memorial Day was the last day of this year’s Fleet Week, the event is sure to return next year, with issues impacting the environment once again part of the message.

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