Hill AFB to benefit from land enhancement award

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 75th Civil Engineer Group Natural Resources Program here received notification recently that it had been selected to receive a grant to undertake a land enhancement project on the base.

The Department of Defense Natural Resources Program provides funds to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) for National Public Lands Day (NPLD) partnership projects on military lands, which are open to the public for recreation activities such as birding, fishing, and hunting. Funds are available for volunteer-based, base-level projects on any DOD site that supports NPLD goals to improve the quality of public lands and to educate the public about natural resource issues and stewardship.

The base will receive $6,500 and according to Nick Brown, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist and Hill AFB liaison, the money will be put to good use.

“We have a few places on base we would like to remove invasive plants (weeds), and in their place, put a variety of seedlings, as well as a native seed mix in the ground to keep the invasive plants from coming back in,” he said. “We will also install a wildlife water guzzler in a strategic location, which will greatly benefit deer and many other wildlife species during our dry summer months.”

The project will also be a vehicle to educate others about good land stewardship.

“Our hope in doing this project is to provide an opportunity for project volunteers to connect with ‘Mother Nature’ and see what a little involvement from others can accomplish,” said Brown. “Hopefully over the years they can look back at this project and see the plants they, themselves, put in the ground and get a sense of pride from it.”

In addition to benefiting wildlife and educating others on land enhancement, this project will also bring awareness about the efforts the Air Force makes in managing the land it occupies.

“I think a lot of the general public, as well as base personnel, don’t realize the Air Force has a natural resource program on base, which manages the habitat and wildlife on Hill AFB’s lands,” said Brown. “Yes, the Air Force does care about its lands and wants to sustain them, enabling them to train in the future as well as keep the ecosystem healthy.”

While this land enhancement project is in the spotlight, the base has many others ongoing or planned.

“Due to the fact that Hill AFB is a very active base, there are always construction projects occurring. As these ground disturbances occur out of necessity, we try and reseed the area with native seed to get a head start on the invasive plants,” said Brown. “As you look around base, if you keep a close eye out, you will see new trees being planted every year to replace trees which have died or had to be removed. A pollinator garden will be put in by Pond 3 in the near future, as well.”

Many of these projects require volunteer support. For the project highlighted in this article and tentatively scheduled for late October, about 30 volunteers from the base and throughout the community are needed. Volunteers will be working outside in the soil planting seedling trees and shrubs, as well as putting in a wildlife water guzzler tank at the restoration site. Gloves and a willingness to work are required.

If interested, contact Nicholas Brown via email at nicholas.brown.51@us.af.mil or 801-777-7652, or Russ Lawrence via email at clair.lawrence@us.af.mil or 801-775-6972.