April 23, 2009

Maneuver Training Center celebrates Earth Day

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Fort Pickett held its annual event April 21 to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment in anticipation of the nationwide Earth Day event. The event was hosted by Fort Pickett's environmental staff and included displays and presentations about the installation's environmental fields.

  Earth Day 2009

Amy Haynes, an environmental specialist with the Virginia National Guard Environmental Office, shows the worm compost container at the 2009 Fort Pickett Earth Day event April 21 at Fort Pickett. The plastic container contained wasted organic material such as fruits, vegetables, paper products and eggshells. The process works because worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm's body. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs)

Displays covered a range of topics, from the display of historical artifacts and green cleaning to spill response and forestry service.

A functional worm compost bin was one of the more visual and interactive displays. The plastic container contained wasted organic material such as fruits, vegetables, paper products and eggshells. The process works because worms eat food scraps, which become compost as they pass through the worm's body. Once the worms finish the work the remnants become nutrient-rich soil used for gardens.

“When we take the display to schools, children love to look at the worms in action,” Amy Haynes, an environmental specialist with the Virginia National Guard’s Environmental Program, said. “It really gives them a great visual to see how food waste can be turned into useful compost.”

Haynes also noted the school children will either run away from the worms or stick their arms in the pile to feel the texture and also to look for the baby worms.

Fort Pickett has an area of 41,770 acres, of which 32,897 acres are forested. Forestry supervisor Hylton Haynes ensures the forested lands are managed properly and the natural resources are protected.

“The goal of forestry management is to improve access to maneuver training areas and make them safer while allowing the land to be more sustainable,” Haynes stressed.

  Earth Day 2009

Col. Tom Wilkinson, commander of the Maneuver Training Center, looks at historical photos of Fort Pickett from the 1950s at the 2009 Fort Pickett Earth Day event April 21 at Fort Pickett. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs)

As part of the forestry program, money is put back into the Commonwealth of Virginia in the form of state entitlements through the sale of timber. In 2008, Virginia public school systems received almost $100,000 from the program. Trees are cut down when there is new construction or an area is cleared because of training.

“All tree removal we do is very well planned and has a purpose. We won’t do any unnecessary clearing,” Haynes said.

Pickett's recycling program was also highlighted during the event. Pickett has an active recycling program. They recycle oil, lubricants, antifreeze, paper, and metals. Pickett is the largest organization that recycles in Nottoway County.

Many of the environmental programs are proactive. However, the Fort Pickett fire department is ready to react to any hazardous material spills. The full time force will respond to a hazardous material spill on the installation at any time. It has equipment that can handle small spills on the ground to larger spills in streams or ponds. The department will also brief incoming units on spill procedures and provides spill kits for spills under five gallons for internal remediation.

Fort Pickett’s environmental program is very well rounded and integrates many areas of conservation. The program’s goal is to raise awareness of the environment and to comply with federal, state and local laws while maintaining the land viable for future training.

For additional information on the Virginia National Guard’s Environmental Program:

http://vko.va.ngb.army.mil/VirginiaGuard/environmental/index.html

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