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For A. P. Hill, a new kind of green
Caroline Army post cited for environmental stewardship

 A different perspective of tree seedlings, viewed down the plastic tube used to support them. The plantings are part of Fort A. P. Hill's efforts to protect the environment.
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Date published: 10/8/2009


Known for its Army training, Fort A.P. Hill is gaining a reputation for another "green" activity--environmental stewardship.

The Caroline County post is among three Virginia military installations receiving the inaugural Virginia DOD Eagle Award.

Gov. Tim Kaine created it last year to recognize and encourage environmental programs on military bases, beginning this year.

Other recipients are Fort Pickett, south of Richmond near Blackstone, and the Defense General Supply Center in Richmond.

L. Preston Bryant Jr., secretary of natural resources, and representatives of the Department of Defense will hand out the Eagle Awards next Wednesday in Richmond.

More than 20 installations were eligible. Each was evaluated by the Defense Department and Virginia natural resource agencies in seven categories: biological resources; habitat protection and restoration; watershed protection and restoration; land use; environmental stewardship; conservation plans; and environmental compliance.

Military installations often have thorny environmental challenges related to their missions, such as unexploded ordnance, heavy metals and toxic materials.

Spread over 76,000 acres, Fort A.P. Hill is one of the Army's premier training venues. And with its vast expanse of woodland, fields, ponds, streams and marshes, it is also home to abundant wildlife and some endangered and threatened species.

Terry Banks, director of the Army post's environmental division, says there's work on many fronts.

"We recently completed a resurvey effort for threatened and endangered species, and we have plans to remove invasive species," she said.

"We completed a low-impact development parking lot, and we're working on several other LID projects." The aim is for pollution-laden runoff from parking lots and other impervious surfaces to soak into the ground rather than flow into streams and rivers.

"We're constantly looking at pesticide applications and using an integrated approach," Banks said.

In addition, "We've established a 50-foot no-cut stream-side management policy for all forestry activities. That's above and beyond Virginia Department of Forestry best management practices."

The environmental division employs wildlife and natural-resources specialists who "work as a team and jointly review any activity that happens on base," Banks said.

Fort A.P. Hill in 2003 received the Chesapeake Bay Program's outstanding achievement award for environmental stewardship among federal facilities.

It was cited for innovative practices such as distributing environmental regulations to employees and units training on the installation. It has an incentive program to reward employees or Army units that go above and beyond their duties in protecting the environment.

On firing ranges, hollow steel targets are being used instead of junk vehicles, which leak hazardous substances.

And the Army post has been working with conservation agencies to discourage incompatible development outside its gates.

More than 4,200 acres have been placed in permanent conservation easements since that program began in 2005.

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431
Email: rdennen@freelancestar.com