ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Several members from the 97th Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) and across the 97th Air Mobility Wing came together to plant more than 100 trees to positively impact the quality of life around the base, April 28-30, 2020.
To assist in qualifying as an Arbor Day Foundation “Tree City USA Community,” members from the Mighty 97th planted more trees around the base. The initiative to plant these trees was overseen by Kelly Niland, a biologist assigned to the 97th CES.
“The goal of this project was to give a natural screen for the front gate area and the rest of the base,” said Niland. “This gives the front gate area a more welcoming look and also gives some privacy to the members living in the FamCamp.”
Digging the holes and planting the trees was the combined effort of more than 20 people over a three days time span. The various members helping out with the project came from the base environmental office, “dirt boys,” electrical shop, HVAC, and other units from around the base.
“Everyone during the process had a positive attitude while we were working the project,” said Niland. “I’m sure after everybody has been stuck inside; it was a nice time to get outside with the few people we had and everybody definitely worked hard.”
The young trees were Eastern Red Cedar Trees that were purchased through a nursery in Texas and were a part of an initiative to celebrate Earth Day.
“This year was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and planting trees was a great way to honor that,” said Niland. “The trees that were planted were selected for several reasons like, how they are evergreen trees so they look good all-year-round- and won’t lose their leaves, they are native to the area, they are drought-tolerant, pollution tolerant, provide natural cooling, grow fast, and help in reducing floods.”
With the help of a truck to dig the holes and several volunteers planting and fertilizing the trees, the project was completed quickly. Trees that were not planted were stored away for later use with the goal of accomplishing more environmental projects in the near future.
“It’s nice to add some variety to the land space and fill some of the open spaces,” said Niland. “In the future, I hope for more restoration of open spaces to a natural prairie, adding on to the quality of the base.”