Branching out our environmental awareness

  • Published
  • By Col. Jerry Martinez
  • 62nd Airlift Wing commander
Today, local Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts will join Col. Shane Hershman, 62nd Airlift Wing vice commander, to plant 11 flowering plum trees along Tuskegee Boulevard in celebration of Arbor Day.

Arbor Day was created by a settler in Nebraska in the late 1800s to encourage other settlers to plant trees to beautify the empty land.

Within a few short years, the holiday spread to other states and is now celebrated by countries throughout the world.

Living in the Evergreen State, it's hard to imagine not being surrounded by trees.

Most of the pine trees towering overhead are older than our Airmen and even the chiefs and colonels on base.

Generations who came before us took care to protect and preserve them, and it's our responsibility to ensure those who come after us will be able to enjoy their beauty long after we're gone.

Our responsibility to protect and preserve doesn't end with trees, but extends to the whole environment.

This week the base's Environment, Safety and Occupational Health Council met and discussed a variety of environmental programs throughout the base from air quality to recycling.

We fly large cargo aircraft, drive large vehicles and take precautions not to negatively impact on the environment.

Laws and guidelines create limits on the amounts of waste and emissions we can produce, but we take better care of our environment than just meeting the laws.

For example, the Department of Defense has asked us to improve our recycling rate to 40 percent in five years.

Air Mobility Command asked us to do better and improve our recycling rate to 60 percent. We've already exceeded both standards.

Last year this base's recycling rate was almost 65 percent, so I'm asking you all to do even better this year.

If you usually throw away paper or the can after you finish a soda, take the extra step to find a recycling bin, every work center should have one.

Taking care of the environment makes good sense not just for today, but also for the future.

So please, take the time to plant a tree, recycle a can or look for ways to save fuel.

Together we'll ensure the next generation of McChord Airmen has the same beautiful trees and fresh air we enjoy today.