Environmental teams recognized for excellence

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, recognizes members of the Virginia National Guard’s environmental team Dec. 18, 2015, near Fort Pickett, Virginia, for their success in the 2015 Army National Guard Environmental Security Awards. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, recognizes members of the Virginia National Guard’s environmental team Dec. 18, 2015, near Fort Pickett, Virginia, for their success in the 2015 Army National Guard Environmental Security Awards. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, recognized state employees for their success in the 2015 Army National Guard Environmental Security Awards Dec. 18, 2015. Virginia National Guard environmental teams, comprised of personnel from several facilities management offices, including environmental, fish and wildlife and forestry, placed first in the Natural Resources Conservation Team category and 3rd in the Environmental Quality Team category.

“There are so many people doing so many things in the background that never get recognized and this is an opportunity to show the Adjutant General his team and all the people who work together, quietly, solidly, over time to do the right thing and take care of the environment and the mission,” said Lt. Col. Charlton Dunn, Virginia National Guard construction and facilities management officer.

The Natural Resources Conservation Team award recognizes “efforts to promote the conservation of natural resources, including the identification, protection and restoration of biological resources and habitats; the sound long-term management and use of the land and its resources; support of the military readiness mission; and the promotion of a conservation ethic,” according to the National Guard Bureau.

According to the award nomination packet, “The Virginia National Guard has established a steller natural resources conservation team drawing on personnel from environmental, the Sustainable Range Program and Integrated Training Area Management, forestry and fish and wildlife offices.”

The packet provides highlights on the team’s success, including the reforestation of 84 acres of Fort Pickett over the past two years with the planting of approximately 900 loblolly pine saplings, income and cost savings to the Virginia National Guard through in-house administration of the timber harvest program, the firewood collection program as well as the selling of hunting and fishing permits. The team also actively burned between 2,000 and 5,000 acres for habitat management in the last two years while also managing around 5,000 acres of range fires, while allow for controlled burns incidental to training.

“All forest management activities are done in a manner that will not adversely impact any threatened or endangered species,” according to the nomination packet, which explains that forestry endeavors including the thinning and harvesting of timber, as well as reforestation and the establishment of 10 new orchard sites, designed to support and diversify the wildlife present in the area.

The NGB explanation of the award states that, “Protecting endangered plant and animal species on our installations and other Department of Defense lands ensures the preservation of these valuable environmental assets for current and future generations and assures the availability of these resources to sustain military readiness,” and Fort Pickett’s team manages the endangered Roanoke logperch, the Rhus Michaux sumac, the Atlantic pigtoe mussel and the northern long-eared bat as well as threatened bald eagles and the team conducts timber and forestry activities relative to the needs and requirements of these species.

The Environmental Quality Team award, recognizes “efforts to ensure mission accomplishment and the protection of human health in the areas of environmental planning, waste management and compliance with environmental laws and regulations,” according to NGB.

The most significant success of the Environmental Quality Team, as outlined in the nomination packet, was the establishment of monitoring devices to more than 385 fuel tanks. The device implementation began as a pilot project on Fort Pickett and was then successfully rolled out to every site throughout the state with fuel storage tanks, which resulted in reduced costs for the Virginia National Guard previously spent on monitoring and management and helped the team to identify and eliminate poorly functioning units. This project allowed the team to track fuel usage at a given site and use that data to determine if repairs are needed.

In addition to the monitoring devices, the team’s successes also include the installation of solar panels at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, which now receives 30-40 percent of energy from those panels, as well as the reintroduction of antifreeze recycling and a commitment to watershed protection.