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This map shows the mainside trail network, with historical range fans superimposed. People spending any time on the trails are advised to remain on the cleared pathways and not step off-trail. This is the best way to avoid any unexploded ordnance that may be in the area.

Photo by Quantico Natural Resources Branch

Stay on path; off-trail running and biking prohibited in mainside trail area

9 Mar 2015 | Eve A. Baker Marine Corps Base Quantico

Outdoor enthusiasts, including runners, hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and residents walking their dogs, are advised to stay on the designated pathways of the mainside trail network and not to venture off the trails or forge new ones of their own. Portions of the trail network fall within historical range fans, and trail users are more likely to encounter unexploded ordnance and other debris off-trail than on the well-worn pathways, said Restoration Program Manager Brian Ventura.

The base has acquired more land over the years, and the primary activities conducted in certain areas have changed. For example, remnants of a rifle range target/butts structure can be seen from Russell Road between the Marsh Building and Catlin Avenue.

A large cannonball was found in 2014 during the construction of new buildings at the Marine Corps University site, said Heather McDuff, a natural resources specialist with Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs aboard MCBQ.

Given that portions of the mainside trail network overlap with former weapons ranges, it is possible that recreational users could encounter UXO in the area. Maj. Peter Baker, deputy director of NREA, located such an item during a run on the trails last year.

What Baker did, and what Ventura advises all personnel to do, was to mark the area so it could be found later and then call the non-emergency number for the Provost Marshal’s Office to notify them of the situation. Personnel should not attempt to dig up the item or move it in any way; explosive ordnance disposal personnel handle the examination and removal of all such objects.

While the cannonball McDuff referenced was a solid ball containing no explosive material, other artifacts can in fact still be dangerous decades later.

Ventura said because the trails consist of clear spaces that experience regular foot traffic, it is far more likely that items could be seen in time to prevent stepping on them, and that anything in those areas that may have been left over from the weapons ranges has been found already.

Dangerous items in off-trail spaces may be obscured from view by leaves, tree branches and various other terrain features.

Anyone encountering any suspicious items along the trails or elsewhere, should call PMO at 703-784-2251.

— Writer: ebaker@quanticosentryonline.com