WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio—Some of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s most prominent outdoor employees spent an afternoon investing in the long-term health and beauty of the local ecosystem April 7.
Ten members of the 88th Security Forces Squadron planted 180 maples, oaks and shagbark hickories along Trout Creek near Huffman Prairie Flying Field, a project headed by Danielle Trevino, biological scientist at the 88th Civil Engineer Group.
This year’s effort was continuation of a long-term project to halt invasive honeysuckle, replace it with native varieties and restore habitat for endangered animal species.
“For instance, the Indiana bat, a federally endangered species, will roost under trees with loose, shaggy bark,” Trevino said. “A roost is a place for a bat to rest and raise its young. All the tree species we planted for this project are beneficial to the Indiana bat in this way.”
Less than half the seedlings, no larger than twigs a foot or two long, will continue to grow, she said, but planting them takes so few resources and offer so many benefits that the effort is worth it.
The volunteer Defenders took initiative to find ways to improve the general area in which they live and patrol.
“They were all outdoor enthusiasts and reached out, asking if they could participate in projects to help enhance the natural areas on the installation,” Trevino said. “We are always happy to have help, and we are grateful for their interest and hard work getting the trees planted.”
Volunteers picked up planting on the bank of Trout Creek where the group left off last year.
“Wright-Patt has a lot of wilderness around it,” said Tech. Sgt. Sawyer McIntyre, a combat arms instructor with 88 SFS. “It’s good to take care of it, especially as this is a historical area. People are walking and jogging, and it’s a nice place for us to exercise and get away from the more-built-up side of base.”
Ohio’s largest surviving prairie remnant, Huffman Prairie testifies to both historical and natural wings. It became the runway for 150 of the Wright brothers’ flights, developmental lab for the first practical plane in history, and training grounds for hundreds more military and civilian pilots. Today, it hosts over 200 species of moths and 30 types of butterflies, as well as pollinators and birds.
“It’s just good to give back to nature and give animals their habitats back,” said Staff Sgt. Bryce Sharon, NCO in charge of the armory. “That’s why I want to be out here helping with this. I love the outdoors—hiking, biking, sightseeing—I just love being out in nature.”
Extending the Earth Day impact, 88 CEG will partner with the city of Fairborn and Beavercreek Wetlands Association for a litter pickup April 22. All are welcome to meet at Community Park in Fairborn between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to help. Supplies will be provided.