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97 CES plants a greener future

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Members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing spread mulch around newly planted trees at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. Over 100 holes were dug and trees were planted in this project for a natural screen near the FamCamp Area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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Kelly Niland, a biologist assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, stands in front of freshly planted trees at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The initiative to plant these trees was tasked to Niland for trees around the main gate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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Lori Stevens, an environmental biologist assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, instructs other members on tasks in order to accomplish the tree project at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. This was an initiative to plant more trees around the base for the installation to qualify as a Tree City USA Community through the Arbor Day Foundation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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Some of the tools used to plant the trees are gathered in a pile at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The planting of trees allowed a more natural look entering the base and gave the FamCamp more privacy for its residency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ernesto Racoma, the operation engineering superintendent assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, plants a tree at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The members helping out with the tree project came from the environmental office, dirt boys shop, electrical shop, HVAC, and other units from around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cinthia Torres, a customer service specialist assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, smooths out the ground around a planted tree at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The trees that were planted were evergreen trees, meaning they will not lose their leaves and stay green all year long. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cinthia Torres, a customer service specialist assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, carries a bag of dirt to help plant a tree at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. Digging the holes and planting the trees was the combined effort of more than 20 people over a three-day time span. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Andrew Martin, an electrical apprentice assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, uses a line truck to drill holes to plant trees at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. With the help of a truck to dig the holes and several volunteers planting and fertilizing the trees, the project was completed quickly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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Dan Donahue, the environmental program manager assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, flattens the hole for a tree to be planted at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The tree planting was a way to honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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Lori Stevens, an environmental biologist assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, rakes the dirt around a tree at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The task to plant these trees took three days of digging, planting, and the use of heavy machinery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Joel-ira Willis, a pavement and construction equipment specialist assigned to the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron, shovels mulch around newly planted trees at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 30, 2020. The trees are Eastern Red Cedar and were picked because of their natural benefits and fast growth rate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

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.”