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Marine general a “champion” in environmental conservation

By Cpl. Priscilla Sneden | | November 24, 2009

The former commanding general of Marine Corps Installations-West, Maj. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert, was honored for his leadership in the protection and restoration of America's endangered wildlife at the Endangered Species Coalition’s Fall Celebration in Georgetown Nov. 19.

According to the citation, Lehnert was presented the Champion Award for Habitat Protection in recognition of his environmental conservation efforts and his enthusiasm with restoring endangered species and protecting habitat on military bases.

"Maj. Gen. Lehnert has been a champion of environmental stewardship within the Marine Corps, believing that it is possible to get Marines combat-ready while still being a good steward," said Leda Huta, executive director of the ESC.

"The restoration activities to benefit at-risk species on Camp Pendleton are a great example of that ideal put into action," she added.

Marine Corps installations have environmental branches that oversee the local energy, water, wildlife and habitat conservation.  

Throughout his time as commanding general, Lehnert encouraged and supported base commanders in their respective conservation efforts such as the recycling program at Camp Pendleton, which recently purchased a new bookmobile funded by its revenue. Camp Pendleton is home to 18 threatened or endangered species including the California least tern, least Bell's vireo, Pacific pocket mouse, and arroyo toad.

Upon receipt of the award, the Michigan native explained the various conservation efforts Marines are putting forth around the Corps, highlighting that more than 40 percent of government vehicles operated in the Corps are now energy-efficient.  

 “A country worth defending is a country worth preserving,” said Lehnert.

The Endangered Species Coalition is a national network comprised of several organizations that work to protect endangered species and the places they inhabit through education, outreach and citizen involvement. 

 The coalition annually hosts the celebration to honor those in support of their cause.

 “We try to recognize people from around the world, from every walk of life that care about wildlife,” said Huta.

Lehnert, in his last appearance on active duty, acknowledged the coalition for their dedication and expressed to the committee that Marines are motivated to assist their cause and will continue to support them.

 “The United States Marine Corps is on your side,” Lehnert said. “We’ve got your back.”

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