ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --
The Air Force’s largest installation was named a recipient in the 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards.
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, received the 2019 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards Natural Resources Conservation, Large Installation Award. Eglin AFB spans more than 460,000 acres of land and 120,000 square miles of water test ranges and contains 34 distinct ecosystems that are home to more than 100 rare or endangered plants and animals. Effective management of natural resources directly supports the Eglin AFB mission by alleviating or eliminating regulatory restrictions that would otherwise impede the current military training mission or hinder our flexibility to meet future mission changes.
During the achievement period, the installation conducted 160 prescribed burns across more than 145,000 acres on base, removing 290,000 tons of hazardous fuel biomass in fiscal 2017 and 2018, reducing wildfires caused by mission activities on test areas by 20 percent and decreasing wildfire suppression time by over 300 man-hours. Prescribed burns also contributed to population expansion of the fire-dependent and endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, and supported habitat restoration for the endangered reticulated flatwoods salamander and the rare Florida bog frog. With more than 250,000 acres of conditionally opened land, the installation supported an overabundance of recreational opportunities which promoted greater public awareness and appreciation of the efforts to preserve Eglin AFB’s natural environment.
The SECDEF Environmental Awards honor installations, teams and individuals for outstanding conservation achievements, innovative environmental practices and partnerships that improve quality of life and promote efficiencies that support, without compromising, the Defense Department’s mission success.