By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Sunday is Earth Day, a day for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and social classes to show their appreciation for the planet and take measures to protect the environment while promoting a more environmentally friendly culture.
Team Little Rock is scheduled to take an active role in the promotion and celebration of Earth Day with a slew of on and off base events and volunteer opportunities during the week of Monday through April 27.
James Popham, the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron natural resources manager at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., said there are many agencies involved, with diverse opportunities for base personnel interested in volunteering.
“Right now, we have 11 different state, federal, local and base environmental agencies set up to do Earth Day displays and demonstrations at Tolleson Elementary School,” said Popham.
Tolleson Elementary is located outside of the base housing gate on base, and the Earth Day festivities are scheduled to take place from 9a.m. - 3 p.m., April, said Popham.
“Some of the different agencies coming out include Arkansas Parks and Tourism, Arkansas Highway Department and Transportation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville recycling, Little Rock AFB Natural Resources, CE Energy Office, Storm Water Management, and the base Fire Department might partner with the Arkansas Forestry Commission,” said Popham.
There will also be handouts and literature distributed about other environmental agencies, as well as a raptor rehabilitator, a professional who specializes in helping restore sick or injured birds of prey into a healthy condition.
In addition to the festivities at Tolleson Elementary, the base environmental office will also organize multiple projects on base during the week, ranging from routine cleanups, to mulching trees around base, to cutting down invasive trees and vines.
“We usually try to clean up the nature trail, and clean up around the base lakes,” said Popham. “More involved projects include cutting down mimosa trees, and other invasive types of trees or bushes in the woods.”
Cutting down invasive trees will include the use of chainsaws, said Popham. Personnel interested in volunteering for a project that involves the use of a chainsaw are required to be trained and to wear the proper safety equipment. Training will be provided by base agencies.
One project that Popham is hoping to successfully orchestrate during the week is to clean up the streams behind base housing.
“We’ve only had volunteers to clean the streams a couple of times,” said Popham. “Those streams are a collection point for trash, a lot of waste goes down there. Of course if anybody works in those streams, they should be careful about poisonous snakes like water moccasins and copperheads. That’s probably why we don’t get a lot of volunteers for this at this time of the year.”
Popham said there is a way to help clean up around the streams without having to worry about snakes, people can still clean up waste around perimeter road by the woods by base housing.
The 19th CES pollution prevention manager Lynn Shaw said he would like to get volunteers to clean up illegal dumping areas on base.
“In addition to trash that gets into the streams in base housing, sometimes there’s illegal dumping that happens behind base housing too,” said Popham.
Each project is intended to be run on a different day of the week, and Popham said he is looking for volunteer leaders to take charge of them.
Anyone interested in getting a detailed list of the intended Earth Day projects on base, or wishing to volunteer to lead or participate in a project, can contact Popham at firstname.lastname@example.org.