Dry season grass fires

In early April, 2014, there were a large number of grass fires that burned several hundred acres from Nimitz Hill where I live all the way south to Mt. Tenjo and further south to the Mt. Alutom area. Grass fires are not uncommon on Guam, in fact they occur just about every dry season in the spring. Of course you have unintentionally set fires, the result of carelessly discarded cigarettes along the roadside, but quite often these fires are set intentionally by poachers. Heavy underbrush provides cover in which pigs and deer can hide, so burning this cover eliminates hiding spots. Additionally, the new grass that grows following a fire is tender and attracts animals.

Unfortunately, these fires cause quite a bit of damage. Aside from the risk to residences, these fires often decimates endangers species which are unable to escape the burn. Additionally, the burned areas lost their grass cover which anchors the soil, so rains cause heavy erosion which blankets the coral reefs with smothering silt.

Following earlier fires that burned the summit of Mt. Tenjo, I decided to hike out to try to locate remnants of the old WW1 era Marine battery that used to be located there.

Looking north to Mt. Chacao, you can see how the burned areas contrasted with the green unburned foliage.
From the summit of Mt. Tenjo, looking west at the whole of Orote Peninsula, which is where Naval Station Guam is located.

Atop Mt. Tenjo, remnants of the gun battery were easy to locate because all the grass had been burned off. What I was not expecting were foxholes – many of them – guarding the summit. It turns out that these are WW2 era and I will post about them more in depth later.

Foxholes aren’t very photogenic, however this one can be easily discerned, guarding the southern approach to the summit.
At the true summit, this remnant was part of a visual signaling device that allowed the battery to communicate with those down on Orote Point. (WWI era)
You can see some of the original mounting bolts used to hold down one of the three 6″ naval guns placed atop Mt. Tenjo,
This is a section of the trench dug by the Marines during the prewar years, to defend the rear of the redoubt.
This is the only structure that remains at Mt. Tenjo. Shielded from the fires by an oasis of sorts, this building is often mislabeled as being Japanese Occupation in origin. In fact, it was built during the construction of the battery in the early post WW1 years.


Sorry for being a bad blogger

The past few months have been hectic ones for my family and I, but for good reasons. Following my recovery from my surgery in December, I wanted to spend as much time out-and-about as possible during my remaining time in Guam. In June of this year, my family and I moved from Guam to Honolulu, Hawaii, where I will be stationed for the next four years, continuing my service as a member of the US Coast Guard. Uprooting and moving your entire family from one island to another brings forth challenges, and I’ve been quite busy as a result getting settled into our new place. Finally, I have had recent travel, first to Boston MA for the World Radiosport Team Championship and a few days later back to Guam for a work trip.

As you can imagine, I’ve not been idle over these past few months. It is my intent to catch up here on this blog, so over the next few weeks you can expect to see a mix of updates, current and past.