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Wright-Patt AFB strives to create the ‘right’ habitats for endangered species

  • Published
  • By Jaima Fogg
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

 Two species of endangered bats are thriving due to the efforts of the 88th Civil Engineering Group’s Natural Resources Program.  

The Indiana and the Northern long-eared are two of the five bat species that are consistently observed on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Both are on the federal endangered species list.  

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 outlines a program for the conservation of threatened and endangered plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. Endangered species can include birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses and trees. 

“Every native species serves a purpose in the greater web of life,” said Danielle Trevino, 88th Civil Engineering biological scientist. “Biodiversity is important, as each species plays a specific role to support the ecosystems we need to maintain life on Earth. Bats provide numerous ecosystem services. They keep insect populations under control, which is a great benefit to humans.” 

Habitat loss is one of the largest contributors to the decline of any species. The natural resource managers at Wright-Patt work hard to protect and enhance the natural habitats of all native wildlife through monitoring programs, surveys and habitat restoration.  

“In terms of endangered species on the installation, our primary goals are to avoid any adverse effects to federally listed species and to minimize conflicts between listed species and the military mission,” said Trevino. “We primarily manage for three federally listed species; the endangered Indiana bat, the endangered Northern log-eared bat, and the threatened Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake.”  

Habitat restoration includes planting trees that benefit the bat population and removing invasive plants which helps to ensure the healthy growth of vital native plants. Bats roost in forested areas under the exfoliating bark of trees and forage for food in forested habitats with open understory--the layer of trees and shrubs between the forest floor and forest canopy.  

Scientists with the Natural Resources Program, along with volunteers, have planted maple, hickory, beech, birch and oak trees. The program restricts the removal of trees that may be inhabited by Indiana bats between April 1 and Oct. 1 to protect habitats.  

The Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, native to wet prairies and marshes, is on the installation’s threatened species roster, and measures are taken to protect its potential habitat even though it has not been documented at WPAFB since the 1990s.      

The Endangered Species Act requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they authorize, fund or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat of such species.   

Endangered Species Day is celebrated each year on the third Friday in May. The 88th’s Natural Resources Program promotes outreach and conservation efforts aimed at protecting endangered species on base and enhancing their habitats. 

“Endangered Species Day is all about learning about and taking action to protect threatened and endangered species,” said Trevino. “These are things we consider and manage daily in the Natural Resources Program. Our outreach and conservation efforts are consistently aimed at doing our part to protect these species and enhance their habitats.” 

Airmen are encouraged to participate in the efforts by volunteering to plant trees and take part in other events that promote the conservation of Wright-Patt's natural resources. Upcoming program events will be published in the Wright-Patterson digital newspaper, the Skywrighter and in the WP Weekly Bulletin. Interested volunteers can also contact Danielle Trevino: