May 22, 2006

Earth Day celebrated at Fort Pickett

From Staff Reports

Brett Saunders, Nottoway County Game Warden, explains to families what types of snakes live in our local ecosystem as he displays this black rat snake. (Photo courtesy Virginia Guard Environmental Programs Office)

BLACKSTONE, Va. -- The Virginia National Guard Environmental Team and Fort Pickett hosted its 4th Annual Earth Day Environmental Education and Awareness Celebration at the Twin Lakes Recreation Area on April 20.  Over 160 citizens from the surrounding communities enjoyed the sunny, spring afternoon learning more about how the Virginia National Guard is committed to responsible environmental stewardship while successfully accomplishing the training mission.   

Post Commander Col. Robert Sparks welcomed the crowd to the event, thanked all the people who planned and conducted the event, and reminded participants of the importance of good environmental stewardship. Many different Directorates within the Virginia National Guard worked together to make the event a success.  Personnel from VAFM, DPW, DPTS, and MATES were involved in conducting this event to educate the general public by raising environmental awareness and reinforcing how the Virginia National Guard considers its mission impacts on the environment and how it works hard to preserve and enhance these training lands which are rich in natural resources. 

Earth Day participants sieve soil looking for artifacts as they learn about the daily duties of the archaeology team here at MTC Fort Pickett. (Photo courtesy Virginia Guard Environmental Programs Office)

Participants enjoyed the armored vehicle static display provided by MATES while learning from the Environmental Team how oil spills in the field are cleaned up properly and how soldiers are trained to service this equipment regularly and dispose of the used motor oil and antifreeze in an environmentally friendly manner.  Members of DPTS gave presentations on the hazards of unexploded ordnance while members of the Sustainable Range Program conducted a hayride highlighting maneuver land rehabilitation projects. Fort Pickett Forestry Department explained to participants how they manage the thousands of acres of forests here at Fort Pickett using techniques such as prescribed burns which enhance the lands for training and wildlife. 

The Cultural Resources team educated participants about the pre-historic inhabitants of the land we now call Fort Pickett by displaying artifacts including spear points, primitive tools, and pottery collected from various sites.  The families attending enjoyed participating in an archaeological survey and learning how the cultural crew surveys training areas and documents significant historic and prehistoric sites.

The Virginia National Guard Environmental Team, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Va. Tech Conservation Management Institute, USDA, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries engaged participants with hands on fish, snake, amphibian, coyote, and macro invertebrate ecology exhibits and led guided biology tours on the Twin Lakes Nature Trail. The participants enjoyed the afternoon while the Virginia National Guard accomplished its Environmental Awareness Mission.

Dan Michaelson, Fish Biologist with the Va. Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries, sampled twin lakes and identified the different species of fish and explained their different physiological features which make each one unique. (Photo courtesy Virginia Guard Environmental Programs Office)


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