Arnold AFB brings home DOD environmental award

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The 704th Civil Engineer Squadron's environmental flight has earned the 2006 Secretary of Defense Natural Resources Management Award in the large installation category. The award recognizes excellence in managing natural resources to support the military mission and stewardship mission goals of the Air Force.

Arnold Air Force Base, with approximately 40,000 acres of prime wood land, competed against eight other military installations for the award given every other year to installations larger than 10,000 acres.

A major accomplishment leading to this DOD-level award was managing the comeback and delisting of a federally threatened species, the Eggert's sunflower.

Arnold is the first base in the Air Force to manage the comeback and delisting of a federally threatened species. The flower was considered endangered for seven years, and even though it is now delisted, base environmental scientists continue to closely manage it.

Another key to winning the award was controlled burning on 2,000 acres of Barrens habitat to conserve 47 rare and sensitive species of plants and animals.

The environmental flight was also recognized for monitoring numerous rare species of plants and animals, providing data for base-level tracking and contributing valuable information to state, regional and national environmental efforts.

Environmental scientists also organized, wrote the charter and chaired the Tennessee Bat Working Group to protect a federally listed endangered bat species, the Gray bat. The group partnered with federal, state and private conservation organizations as well as several universities.

Adding to the list of environmental accomplishments, Arnold managed multiple timber harvests and sale activities, totaling 46,310 tons of pine and hardwood pulp wood and nearly 3.5 million board feet of hardwood and pine saw timber.

The base was commended for promoting conservation education through internship opportunities and field trips and a variety of presentations for school groups, and providing outdoor recreation opportunities including hunting, fishing, skiing and boating.

The Air Force captured four of eight Secretary of Defense environmental awards in 2006.