JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – --
Since day one of military basic training, as Airmen, you are not only taught to serve this great nation with honor, dignity and respect, but you are also taught to take pride in where you work and that safety comes first in any situation.
In that same sentiment, throughout the year, a team of individuals from the Directorate of Public Works will be working diligently to address safety concerns associated with trees in the vicinity of the McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Particularly the historical area [parade field] which consist of more than 130 trees; 90 of which were identified as safety hazards and require removal or major pruning.
“Multiple factors influenced the decision to beautify the parade field on McChord Field” said Maj. Marie Harnly, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander. “Some of the trees present safety concerns and are impacting the infrastructure around the parade field. A lot of the trees are dead, so considering all of these factors, a holistic approach was taken so future generations can enjoy this historic area of McChord Field.
By removing the trees and selectively replanting native trees, the parade field will be reset and will reflect the pride that Airmen have here on McChord Field.”
According to Lt. Col. Brian George, 627th CES commander, the trees along Col. Joe Jackson Blvd. have not been pruned in many years and branches have grown out causing hazards.
“Additionally, on Tuskegee Avenue, especially in the area near the flag pole, trees have become diseased and died,” said George. Over the Building 100 parking lot, numerous branches have been singularly removed, several this year that have posed significant and eminent safety hazards. Finally, during the last year's heavy winds season, we had a 100-ft tree, rotted throughout its core, topple over, into the grassy area. That was the last straw and DPW put together the project.”
DPW took on this project developing a new landscape plan for this area with two goals in mind; safety and sustainability.
“As always, safety comes first,” said 1st Lt. Kathleenann Fuhr, 627th CES engineering flight commander. “All the dead or declining trees have to be removed and vehicular sightlines and utility clearances must be addressed.
Building a sustainable plan focused on selecting native tree species as replacements, and identifying proper spacing to ensure the replacements would both enhance the historic district character and have room to grow and mature is the priority.”
Public Works personnel reviewed past natural resource reports, utilized lessons learned from similar projects around the installation, and got assistance from the Washington State Historical Preservation Office to finalize the plan.
DPW started this beautification project in early October 2018. This project will consist of two phases. Phase 1 will focus on safety and the removal of 90 hazardous and or dead trees as well as the pruning of 60 trees along Col Joe Jackson Blvd. and Tuskegee Airman Avenues West and East. Phase 2 will consist of selectively replanting 24 trees [Flowering, Maple and Elm], mostly around the Flag Pole block, in the spring of 2019.
“The overall goal is to provide a safe and sustainable environment for the mission,” said George. “We also have to consider the historical area immediately surrounding Tuskegee Avenue and make sure the project is done right. The safety part is pruning and removing hazardous trees. The sustainability component is making sure replanting’s are spaced appropriately to encourage growth, be off of utility runs, and tree species are disease/drought resistant, non-fruit bearing, and native.”