Blackwater Worldwide, part of the Prince Group and one of the largest private military contractors in the world, proposed "Blackwater West" to be built in a valley just north of the small town of Potrero, in East San Diego County. The facility would have comprised 824 acres, including a portion of the Cleveland National Forest. The valley is one of a chain of valleys starting in Descanso, part of the original two-million acre preserve originally designated by Teddy Roosevelt. Since then, it has been reduced to 650K acres, and swiss-cheesed with private ownership. This valley has been used as a chicken ranch.
Blackwater pulled this project due to fierce public outcry on March 7, 2008. See Blackwater Otay to review their new secret invasion into Otay Mesa!
The proposed use will substantially develop the property and utilize it for target practice using pistols and carbines, a two-mile race track for emergency vehicle training, an 18,000 sqft armory, dormitories, mess hall, etc. The intention is to service 300 students each week (15,000 trainees per year) with 60 staff in residence on-site. See Blackwater West Project Description for details, and Detailed Plot Plan.
Blackwater does not want to admit that they represent a mercenary firm. "Civilians under arms for hire = mercenaries" precisely defines their activities. More than that, they frequently train and deploy foreigners, which makes the point even stronger. Although Blackwater says they will only engage in some activities at the proposed Blackwater West facility near Potrero, such as training of law enforcement and military, there is no licensing or oversight function that exists that can ensure that this is in fact the case, and the function of the facility could change overnight. Its proximity to Mexico is another concern.
Was this location selected so they can profit from lucrative border-security contracts, is it preferred so they can train cheap Mexican soldiers for their private army, or is this preferred so they can perform extraordinary rendition of "enemy combatants" in a partner facility in the El Hongo district of Tecate? Unfortunately, due to the Black-Ops contracts with the CIA, NSA, and military industrial complex, we may never know for sure.
One thing is certain, this insanity must be stopped.
Portion of Forest Service Map Showing the site. Cleveland National Forest is to the North, and a portion of the purchased property is within the Forest boundary. View looking northwest from the entrance of the valley. Chicken coops are the buildings in the distance. See Round Potrero Valley Images for more pictures!
Virtual Visit to the site:
The Rise and Fall of Blackwater in Potrero -- As seen on TV
@@ TODO - Make Media Topic for the above.
Status and Recent History:
Blackwater met with Rep. Duncan Hunter and Sup. Dianne Jacob in May, 2006.
Project opened at the San Diego County Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) June, 2006.
Cleveland National Forest Map - The project area is just south of the Hauser Wilderness, I think in squares numbered 24, 19, and 20. "Round Potrero Ranch" seems to be the main ranch house. Hauser Creek runs just behind the property and feeds Barrett Lake. Compare this map to the satellite map above as the cleveland national forest is not shown on the Google Map.
Official Department of Planning and Land Use documents
DPLUUses Blackwater Attorney As Planner - Attorney Lori Spar represented herself as Blackwater's Attorney at one planning group meeting and at the next, she was suddenly a key planner for the county on the Blackwater project!
Camp Lockett - Military installation used during WWII near Campo. Now a hazardous substances cleanup site. Why don't we use such ruined areas for new military bases instead of ruining sensitive and pristine valleys?
(M1160) Blackwater deaths suit tossed after six years -- Mike Baker, Washington Post, 2011-01-26 An unfortunate likely consequence when you pick a fight with a corporation with deep pockets and who was likely just following black-ops contract provisions designed to sacrifice the BW contractors in an orchestrated ambush so that the Bush admin had an excuse for the siege of Fallujah. You need money to use our court system if you want to be treated with any measure of fairness. No money, and you will not be able to withstand the tactics of a deep-pocket adversary. Very sad. --Ray
All Blackwater News Media - This page contains all the news media about Blackwater that has been submitted to the site. Some media that is very important was recently submitted to the site but has an earlier publication date... You can find it here.
Back Country Land Trust of the San Diego Conservation Resources Network
I have asked Duncan McFetridge of Save Our Forest And Ranchlands to provide his presentation as a video so we can distribute it more widely, as it is the only presentation where I have seen a picture of the valley and its relationship to the other remaining open space in the Cleveland National Forest.
Covert Canyon - discovered in May, and County stopped operation. Was Blackwater behind exposing this (competitor) facility? Perhaps. There is certainly less need for shooting ranges, etc. if Covert Canyon was already in operation.
Wind Zero - New proposal in the Imperial valley, just after the split of I-8 and 98.
Paramilitary Law - Laws that restrict the formation of private armies withing the US.
Suitable Locations For Training - Existing or closed military bases may be more suitable for training. (This whole topic assumes you think private training camps is a smart idea. Most people I talk with don't, for many reasons.)
Williamson Act - The California Land Conservation Act, better known as the Williamson Act, has been the state’s premier agricultural land protection program since its enactment in 1965. The Round Potrero Valley is protected by such a contract