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1st SOCES maintains "Tree City" status

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kentavist P. Brackin
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The title of "Tree City USA" is not something just any community can obtain and yet, Hurlburt Field has won and maintained this status for almost two decades.

Hurlburt Field has been a certified Tree City since 1994, according to said Krystal Walsh, natural and cultural resources manager for 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron. "No other military installation in Florida has ever been designated as a Sterling Tree City USA as we are now," Walsh added.

The award recognized Hurlburt Field's excellence in the management of its urban forestry programs and resources while meeting standards set forth by the National Arbor Foundation.

To remain a Tree City USA community, Hurlburt Field continuously met the four standards required, including the creation of ordinance providing clear guidance for planting and maintaining and removing trees from public places.

Additionally, requirements demand that individuals be appointed to develop and administer tree management programs, create annual budget plans showing community support for tree resources and probably the simplest of all, hold an annual tree-planting event or ceremony known widely as Arbor Day.

During this year's Arbor Day ceremony, children and officials from Hurlburt Field recognized the new Child Development Center East Facility during a tree-planting ceremony in celebration of Arbor Day in front of the CDC East facility, April 24.

The Arbor Day celebration, hosted by 1st SOCES, recognized the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, an environmentalist born on April 22, 1832 and a former Secretary of Agriculture.

"Each year we like choose a different site around Hurlburt Field that we want to honor with a tree planting," said Walsh, host for the event.

Tree planting helps minimize erosion, provides wind breaks and cuts cooling and heating costs. Even the planting of alternative grass is beneficial to the base, helping minimize birds on airfields and potential damages to aircraft.

Other events carried out by the 1st SOCES personnel include managing 3000 acres of forested wetlands around Hurlburt Field and conducting monthly to quarterly prescribed fire-burns totaling 800 acres to help promote ecosystem health and species habitat.

According to Walsh, the events help strengthen the Hurlburt community by bringing environmental awareness to military families and offsetting the nature deficit issue with children and families today.

Although the effects of striving to keep the designation of "Tree City USA" are varied, they are all beneficial to health and wellness of the base, its personnel and the environment around it.