Land project aids wildlife, benefits base

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Employees from the 75th Civil Engineer Group Natural Resource Program, along with volunteers, planted hundreds of wildlife-friendly seedlings on the base’s north side, Nov. 9.

Four individuals spent the afternoon planting gamble oak, serviceberry, sagebrush, bitterbrush, cliffrose and wild rose on a steep slope at the former landfill site.

These native plants are beneficial to the base’s wildlife population, especially deer because their leaves, twigs and buds serve as a food source. The base’s human population benefits, too, because many feel that quality of life is improved by the presence of wildlife.

“The idea is that this will be a lot like the brushy surrounding area and that it’ll make a good bedding area for the wildlife,” said Nick Brown, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist and Hill AFB liaison, about the expanse of bare ground being planted. “The animals feel more relaxed when there’s something between them and visitors.”

Fall and spring are ideal seasons for planting seedlings, which when mature will also provide soil stabilization.

“This time of year there’s not a big need for growth and water,” said Brown, “so we can get them in the ground over winter without the plants having a lot of stress on them. Then they can really establish themselves when things start to warm up, the snow starts to melt, and the soil is really moist.”

Those participating in the land enhancement project welcomed the chance to be outside on the warm, sunny afternoon.

“This project is important because if we don’t try to take care of the resources that we have, we’ll lose them,” said Jace Taylor, a base contractor. “We all have a stewardship to take care of it.”

Jimmy Snyder, an environmental protection specialist assigned to the 75th Civil Engineer Group, said, “It’s a worthy cause. It’s good to be able to help out.”

Volunteer Richard Abderhalden, who is considering enlisting in the Air Force, said he and his project coworkers were doing something important, which would benefit people and animals.

“I like environmentalism and even though [the mission of this base] is defense, we should still focus on protecting the environment,” he said. “This project also helps the living environment of the folks protecting our country.”

To fund the land enhancement project, the base used a $6,500 grant it recently received from the National Environmental Education Foundation, which supports National Public Lands Day projects aimed at improving the quality of public lands and educating the public about natural resource issues and environmental stewardship.

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