April 23, 2008

Pickett protects the planet at Earth Day 2008

By Capt. Dayna Rowden
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

At the Fort Pickett Earth Day celebration April 22, James Daniel, 4, looks on warily as Capt. Jaycee Shaver holds a cornsnake. (Photo by Capt. Dayna Rowden, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. The Virginia Army National Guard environmental programs office hosted the 6th annual Earth Day celebration at the Twin Lakes recreational area on Fort Pickett April 22. The Virginia Guard partnered with the local community and state agencies for the event to give guests the chance to learn about the ways in which the Army National Guard is working to sustain the environment.

Fort Pickett, which is an active military training center that host thousands of troops each year, is also an environmentally and historical diverse location. The Army National Guard has a commitment to preserving the natural environment not only to sustain current installation operations but to improve training lands and recreational opportunities, make healthier communities and to forge new partnerships. 

One new partnership is the Army Compatible Use Buffer program. The Virginia Army National Guard is partnering with the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Tech’s Conservation management Institute and Conservation partners to encumber land development around Fort Pickett to protect habitat and training without acquiring any new land for Army ownership. The program allows the Army to contribute funds to the partner’s purchase of easements or properties from willing landowners. These partnerships preserve high-value habitat and limit incompatible development in the vicinity of military installations. 

“We have to think about the part we play on this Earth,” said former NASCAR driver Ward Burton and founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. “We all can play a part, no matter how big or small, to make this a better place for our children and their children.”

Guests at the Earth Day celebration learned more about the ACUB, the diverse environmental resources at Fort Pickett and ways in which they could help sustain the environment.  The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries collected fish from the Twin Lakes and showed to curious onlookers the variety of aquatic life that inhabit the lake. American eels, large-mouth bass, red-eared brim, blue gills and catfish were on display. The lake was even being stocked with hundreds of catfish to make ready for “Fishing is Fun Day” to be held in June.

Bev Boyko, a curator from the Fort Pickett artifact facility, brought archeological items found on Fort Pickett including pre-historic arrowheads, Spanish coins and bottles from the colonial era.

“This is our chance as Soldiers to let our communities know what we do to help the environment,” said Capt. Jaycee Shaver, Virginia Army National Guard Environmental officer. “We’re all tied together.”

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, and over 200 celebrations and observance were scheduled at Army commands and installations around the world. These efforts help foster increased awareness of environmental progress among Soldiers, Families, installation staff and community neighbors.

“Earth Day is a chance for us to give a voice to something that doesn’t have a voice,” said Burton.

Shaver reminds Soldiers to consider the impact they make on our environment.  Each Soldier can make a difference by thinking about how their actions impact the world we live in.

We must conserve and preserve while we serve. By sustaining the environment together we can ensure our strength and a great quality of life for our families that will last for generations to come.

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