Air Force Bases Lauded for Environmental Restoration, Conservation

Four missions at three Air Force bases were honored Wednesday for their stewardship of natural and cultural resources during a Pentagon ceremony marking the 2011 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards.

“When I visit installations, I am humbled by the dedication, and the skill and competence when it comes to protecting the natural and cultural environment — and today we honor the best,” said Dorothy Robyn, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment. The department oversees 28 million acres that include 1,400 threatened or endangered species, 40 of which are found only on military property, she said, according to American Forces Press Service.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., won for environmental restoration. The station developed partnerships with regulatory agencies, nonprofit groups and others to streamline the cleanup of ground contamination as part of $23 million in cleanup projects. Officials also developed and tested environmental technologies and sought out opportunities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,cost and environmental footprints.

Eglin AFB,Fla., received two awards — one for natural resources conservation and the other for cultural resources management. The base hosted a prescribed burn in which wildland fire professionals were able to test new technologies and practices in a controlled environment. The base also helped to increase the nesting clusters and breeding pairs of the endangered red cockaded woodpecker. The cultural resources management team at Eglin, meanwhile, identified hundreds of sites and buildings for their archaeological merit or eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places.

The 88th Air Base Wing Civil Engineering Directorate’s environmental branch at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, was honored for cultural resources management. The organization crafted a historic preservation guide book at the base where the Wright Brothers had developed the first practical airplane. Officials also completed an adapted reuse of a historic building, promoted awareness of the area’s Native American culture and preserved one of the state’s few remaining natural prairies.

“We celebrate their successes not only because they enhance mission capability, but because they provide a sustainable, long-lasting, and flexible approach to national security,” Ashton Carter, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said in a prepared statement.

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