AFCEC cares for the environment to keep the Air Force in flight Published April 22, 2022 By Aneta Veedmont AFIMSC Public Affairs JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – While Earth Day focuses worldwide attention on environmental issues every April, a diverse team of Air Force professionals are protecting the environment and assuring mission success every day. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s environmental and Base Realignment and Closure teams are helping preserve the Air Force’s natural infrastructure across nine million acres of land, including forest, prairies, deserts, and coastal habitat through its headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and installation support sections across the U.S. Leslie Peña, left, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Natural Resource Program manager and Karen Gallardo Cruz, Colorado State University wildlife biologist, inspect an earthen dam partially blocking Union Creek June 11, 2021, at Travis Air Force Base, California. Travis AFB’s Natural Resources Program is responsible for surveys, analysis and documentation of threatened and endangered species, wetlands, forest resources and other field studies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heide Couch) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res From restoring environment impacted by Air Force mission activities, to protecting endangered species and cultural and natural resources, to ensuring compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, Air Force stewardship of the environment is expansive. As the execution agents for the Air Force, AFCEC has a role in virtually every aspect of environmental management, including leading restoration efforts at active and closed installations and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. For example, since 2010, AFCEC has awarded about $1.3 billion in performance-based contracts to address restoration needs at various active installations. The former Griffiss Air Force Base restoration project team is named one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021 National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse award winners. Now designated the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, the award recognizes the hard work, innovative thinking and cooperation among the Air Force Civil Engineer Center BRAC program, EPA and state and local redevelopment agencies. Griffiss AFB was on the list of bases in 1993 slated for realignment and/or closure under BRAC. (Courtesy Photo) . Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “We are here for the long run doing whatever it takes to protect human health and the environment,” said Dr. Stephen TerMaath, AFCEC BRAC Program chief. "Our restoration mission doesn't stop when the installation closes, we continue our environmental responsibilities even after the property is transferred.” With AFCEC’s support, Air Force installation natural resources teams sustain bio-diverse habitats for 123 threatened and endangered species at 54 bases. Eglin AFB, Fla., recently received the 2021 DoD Environmental Award for Natural Resources Conservation at large installations for their four-pronged approach gopher tortoise conservation. Tortoise relocation Photo Details / Download Hi-Res SLIDESHOW | images | Tortoise relocation Tortoise relocation Photo Details / Download Hi-Res SLIDESHOW | images | Tortoise relocation Tortoise relocation Photo Details / Download Hi-Res SLIDESHOW | images | Tortoise relocation Tortoise relocation Photo Details / Download Hi-Res SLIDESHOW | images | Tortoise relocation “Eglin’s natural resources team moved to the installation more than 2,300 gopher tortoises displaced across Florida due to alternative energy production. The goal is to receive 6,000 tortoises by 2023,” said Karla Meyer, Air Force natural resources subject matter expert at AFCEC. When Air Force construction and mission activities encroach on these habitats, the National Environmental Policy Act division conducts Environmental Impact Statements to ensure the installations are in compliance with federal and state regulations. Often times Environmental Assessments need to be done in difficult terrain and without disrupting the natural surroundings. An unmanned aerial system is prepared for a test flight July 9, 2020, at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis, Texas. Photo Details / Download Hi-Res “AFCEC funds environmental projects to cultivate population growth for threatened and endangered species,” Meyer said. “If we’re not in compliance with the Endangered Species Act we can’t execute our missions.” On Earth Day, and every day, the AFCEC team works to encourage and grow the partnerships that will sustain environmental health and Air Force mission success for many years to come. "We have great things happening all over the country because of our environmental partnering efforts, but we still have a lot more to do," said Kenny Johnson, AFCEC Restoration and Clean Up Division chief. "We will continue to rekindle and create new partnerships so that together we can protect and sustain our natural resources."