WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Not only is Wright-Patterson Air Force the worksite for over 27,000 employees, it is also home to numerous species of plants and animals living in the wetlands and prairies on 8,000 acres of land.
The 88th Civil Engineering Group Natural Resources Division is responsible for managing and focusing on the conservation of threatened and endangered species, the installation’s urban forest, 20 acres of wetlands, the restoration of prairie habitat, and the control of invasive species. They also manage the hunting and fishing programs for the installation.
“Our job is to enhance mission sustainability through environmental excellence,” said Danielle Trevino, Environmental Protection specialist. “Achieving and maintaining environmental quality is an essential part of the Air Force mission, and we are dedicated to do our part to sustain that mission.”
Unlike any other installation, Wright-Patterson AFB is also the home to the National Historic Landmark Huffman Prairie where the Wright Brother’s developed the world’s first practical airplane. Huffman Prairie is also one of the largest remaining stands of black soil tallgrass prairies in Ohio.
“We consistently work to maintain and enhance the habitat, with the collaboration of MetroParks, Fish and Wildlife, National Park Services, and numerous dedicated volunteers,” said Trevino. “We strive to increase native species, decrease non-native species, and reintroduce species that have been extirpated from the site.”
As an important part of managing the prairie, Trevino said rotational prescribed burns are conducted to stimulate the growth of the native plant species and to eradicate the invasive ones.
In addition to burning, prairie seeds from both Huffman Prairie and other local prairies are used to restore areas of Huffman Prairie that have a poor growth of native species. Last year, the Natural Resources division harvested seeds from the prairie that will be planted this fall to grow more habitats for pollinators. With the help of volunteers, invasive species are removed by hand throughout the year.
Along with being an optimal habitat for the pollinator population, Huffman Prairie is one of the most significant habitats for grassland birds in the region.
“The Natural Resources Division continuously strives to enhance the natural habitats for pollinators and wildlife on the installation and hope that visitors can come and enjoy, as well as learn, about the wonderful natural habitats that we have right here on the base.” said Trevino.
Continuing their commitment to pollinator conservation, the second annual Pollinator Expo will be held on June 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wright-Brothers Memorial near Area B.
At the expo, more than 30 informational tables from various organizations ranging from parks to colleges across the state will be in attendance highlighting their efforts and offering guidance on how to help improve the pollinator population.
For additional information about the 88th Civil Engineering Natural Resources Division and the pollinator expo, go to the Wright-Patterson Natural Resources Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WrightPattersonNaturalResources/ or contact Danielle Trevino at (937) 257-8555.