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GAFB enriches base ecosystem

Members of the 17th Civil Engineer Squadron pose with a Bur Oak on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, April 21, 2021. The team planted the Bur Oak to support Earth Day 2021, which is an environmental movement that raises awareness about ways to maintain a clean habitat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall)

Members of the 17th Civil Engineer Squadron pose with a Bur Oak on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, April 21, 2021. The team planted the Bur Oak to support Earth Day 2021, which is an environmental movement that raises awareness about ways to maintain a clean habitat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall)

A Bur Oak tree stands in an open area near at the south end of Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, April 21, 2021. This tree was planted for Earth Day 2021 in an effort to improve the environment for on-base wildlife and to deter deer from venturing onto the nearby highway. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall)

A Bur Oak tree stands in an open area near at the south end of Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, April 21, 2021. This tree was planted for Earth Day 2021 in an effort to improve the environment for on-base wildlife and to deter deer from venturing onto the nearby highway. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christopher Higgins, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, breaks ground to plant a Bur Oak tree on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, April 21, 2021. This tree was planted for Earth Day 2021’s theme of “Restore Our Earth”, which focuses on innovative thinking that can improve the world’s ecosystems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christopher Higgins, 17th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, breaks ground to plant a Bur Oak tree on Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, April 21, 2021. This tree was planted for Earth Day 2021’s theme of “Restore Our Earth”, which focuses on innovative thinking that can improve the world’s ecosystems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrell Hall)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Members of the 17th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental management team kicked off Earth Day 2021 by conducting the first ever Earth Day tree planting, here, April 22.

Due to the pandemic, the 17th CES environmental management team hasn’t been able to conduct their outreach as in prior years, such as hosting seminars and setting up booths during community functions. This year, they decided to get creative.

“We have chosen to plant a 50-gallon size Bur Oak,” said 17th CES environmental protection specialist, Allen Hotchkiss. “A lot of thought went into the species selection, and for many reasons. We needed to choose a native species that is drought, heat, and sun tolerant.”

Bur Oak trees are also in the White Oak family, which is less susceptible to oak wilt, a fungal disease that can attack oak trees.

The theme for Earth Day 2021 was “Restore Our Earth”. Hotchkiss explained this tree will eventually produce food and shade for the local wildlife, and create a place designed to encourage deer away from Kearney Blvd.

 “Trees are the lungs of the earth,” said Hotchkiss. “Trees clean the air, adding valuable oxygen that humans and animals need. They also help to clean water, prevent soil erosion, and even provide habitats for organisms to live in and feed on.”

Hotchkiss explained they chose the south end of the base as a location for the tree planting due to the availability of water in there, which will help to keep the tree healthy and strong for years to come.

“We thought the best thing we could do is provide a beautiful tree the produces so many positive factors on the environment,” said Hotchkiss.

According to Earth Day’s official website, earthday.org, in 1970, 20 million individuals mobilized to call for greater protections for our planet. This became the world’s first Earth Day. Earth day was designed to educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.