The safety of National Park Service (NPS) staff in the field is paramount. Dangers take many forms and we must be prepared for them. When NPS Pacific Island Inventory & Monitoring Network biological technicians Melissa Simon, Lindsay Moore, and Elizabeth Urbanski, and UH Cooperator Meagan Selvig came across a WWII era grenade in a vegetation monitoring plot they knew what to do.
It started off like a normal day. We put on our long sleeves, repellent, and sunscreen, then set out into the forest above Asan Village at War in the Pacific National Historical Park. We set up our transect tapes outlining the plot the day before to get a head start on our vegetation monitoring.
We were about an hour into our data collection when Meagan exclaimed, "Guys! I think I just found a UXO (unexploded ordinance)!" We all dropped what we were doing to check it out. Sure enough, there it was – a hand grenade just off of the transect. It looked old and rusty, blending in with the surrounding leaf litter.
We immediately left the area and called NPS Resource Management Chief, Mike Gawel. He assured us we were doing the right thing by following the three R's: Recognize, Retreat, Report. He told us to hold tight while he reported the UXO to 911. Minutes later, we received phone calls from the Guam Fire Department, and the Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit (EOD).We met both groups at the trail head. The EOD had us clear the area while they examined and collected data on the UXO. After calling the coast clear, we learned that it was a US “pineapple grenade” from WWII. They were able to safely collect the grenade and remove it from the area to be properly disposed of later that day in a controlled explosion at their base.
The day would have progressed differently had we not followed the safety guidelines created for these situations. Watch where you step out there.
– M. Simon, NPS, 2014