FORT PICKETT, Va. , –
Virginia National Guard Soldiers and civilian employees of Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett planted two trees at the MTC garrison headquarters in honor of Earth Day April 22, 2021, at Fort Pickett, Virginia.
Under the guidance of the Fort Pickett forestry program, the team dug holes and prepared soil for two small serviceberry trees, one on either side of the MTC Fort Pickett headquarters sign.
The trees, though small in stature, produce berries which are beneficial to regional wildlife. In addition, it provides some simple beautification to the installation headquarters building.
Once the trees were planted this year, they were wrapped with fabric bags which capture rainwater and slowly feed the water to the root system, encouraging healthy growth.
“Earth Day is important for MTC to recognize since the natural environment plays such a large role at the installation,” said Col. Timothy D. Pillion, MTC Fort Pickett’s garrison commander. “It’s important to take the proper steps to protect it, not just on Earth Day, but in all aspects of training and operations at Fort Pickett.”
MTC has observed and celebrated Earth Day for years, usually marking the occasion with environmentally-friendly projects. In 2019, a team of Soldiers, civilian employees and local students joined forces to plant flowers and mulch the area around the Fort Pickett welcome center, increasing the area’s pollinator habitat and highlighting the post’s environmental objectives.
Outside of the annual Earth Day projects, efforts to protect the environment at the installation are continual. Because of those efforts, MTC took third place honors in the Natural Resources category of the Fiscal Year 2020 Army National Guard Environmental Security Awards, according to announcement published Dec. 8, 2020, by National Guard Bureau.
“Congratulations on your winning entry for the FY 2020 Environmental Security Awards,” wrote Col. Anthony Hammett, Army National Guard G9, in the announcement. “Your outstanding program has resulted in environmental excellence. You have set the standard for the states and territories with your innovation and accomplishments.”
The submission packet, primarily assembled by Scooter Cogar, the environmental compliance manager for the Virginia Department of Military Affairs, and Kristin Petersen, a National Guard Bureau contractor, outlines the robust Natural Resources Conservation Program sustaining the habitats enabling critical training and integrating Environmental, Sustainable Range Program, Integrated Training Area Management, Forestry, and Fish and Wildlife offices in a holistic management approach.
“The in-house talents of this staff are bolstered by valuable partnerships which have made MTCFP a regional leader for environmental conservation,” wrote Cogar in the submission packet.
One of the other highlights cited is MTCFP’s management of Michaux’s sumac, an endangered plant found in parts of the property, which has forced some training restrictions. The NRC program partnered with other agencies including Fort Bragg and the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation to conduct a first of its kind study of the plant’s genetics.
“Results of the study will guide future management actions of the species across its distribution and will place reclassification and eventual delisting of the species within the possibility of the near future,” Cogar wrote in the report.
Maneuver Training Center Fort Pickett is the premier training site for the Virginia Army National Guard, a designated Regional Training Center offering a wide variety of training experiences for the VAARNG and units from throughout the nation. On its nearly 42,000 acres, MTCFP provides 20 live fire ranges for weapons and simulations including state-of-the-art Multipurpose Range Complex and Multi-Purpose Machine Gun Range as well as numerous non-standard live-fire lanes, a forward operations base, a 16-building Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain site with a Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, Urban Assault Course, shoothouse, several village simulation sites, Infantry Platoon Battle Course and an Engineer Float Bridge training area. Also present on MTCFP are pristine forests, threatened and endangered species and high-quality wetland habitats.