BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 518

Avoiding blasts from the past 

The BLM El Centro Field Office took part in training designed to inform and educate staff to the presence and danger of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from military training activities during WWII. With a good deal of the resource area located in the former California-Arizona Maneuver Area (C-AMA), the odds of finding munitions and munitions debris from these training activities remains high. The BLM California Desert District manages the majority of the former C-AMA in southeastern California. (more text below)

participants pass around replicas of a grenade, a large shell and other ordinance
El Centro staff get hands on with replicas of unexploded ordnance (UXO) they may encounter in the field.

The training was provided by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for the clean-up and environmental restoration of these areas. Instructor Sonny Franks provided hands-on examples of the seven general types of munitions that may be found on BLM's public lands. These include small arms ammunition, projectiles, mortars, land mines, rockets, grenades and smoke pots. (Readers may remember a 40mm grenade found by a camper in the Dune Buggy Flats area of the Imperial Sand Dunes in November, 2011.)

Visitors to BLM public lands, and other Imperial Valley desert locations, are reminded that unexploded ordnances (UXO) are often very unstable and dangerous. Because not every bomb looks like a bomb, keep away from strange looking devices and contact authorities immediately. Here are some guidelines to follow should you encounter a UXO:

  • If you see UXO, STOP, do not move closer.
  • Do NOT transmit radio frequencies near UXO (this includes cell phones, two-way radios or citizen's band radio. Keep at least 100 ft. away).
  • NEVER touch, move, or disturb UXO.
  • NEVER remove anything near UXO.
  • Call 911 and report UXO. Move 100 ft. away before using cell phone or radio.
  • Avoid any area where UXO is located.

Remember:  Recognize.  Retreat.  Report.

For more information on the history of C-AMA, contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Public Affairs Office at 213-452-3921. For more information on lands managed by the BLM in the El Centro area, contact 760-337-4400, or visit our web page at

a speaker addresses a class full of people
U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Instructor Sonny Franks provided the training.

- Joya Szalwinski, interpretive park ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office/Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (February 14, 2012)

BLM-California News.bytes, issue 518 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.