USACE employees go green in April

Published April 7, 2014

From tree planting and spring cleanups to a “Green Campus Initiative,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel are making a difference as Earth Day approaches on April 22.

Although Army Corps of Engineers employees take time to do something good for the environment on a daily basis, each April there is an increased emphasis on getting outdoors and working with community groups to do just a little bit more.

Pacific Ocean Division
Honolulu District is kicking off Earth Day activities on April 5, with its annual beach and berm cleanup at the Pacific Regional Visitor Center located on Fort DeRussy in Waikiki.  Volunteers will join district rangers starting at 8 a.m. in doing the cleanup along the beach.  It’s all part of the Earth Day 2014:  The Green Cities Campaign.

Northwestern Division
Seattle District personnel are focusing on three areas this year – Albeni Falls Dam, Oldtown, Idaho; Chief Joseph Dam, Bridgeport, Wash., and the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, Seattle.

Natural Resources staff will participate with Priest River Elementary to conduct a community clean-up on April 11. Students throughout the entire school will move out into the community including Priest River and Riley Creek Recreation Areas to conduct activities such as campground cleanup and building aluminum can collectors.

In addition to the cleanup, one of the Albeni Falls Dam rangers will conduct in-class visits to every 5th grade class in Bonner County, reaching 450 students, throughout the month giving them an introduction on the Pend Oreille Watershed before the 19th annual Water Festival at Riley Creek in May.

The Chief Joseph Dam staff is hosting about 500 students from four local schools for a robust Earth Day program April 24 at the Information and Rest Area near the Chief Joseph Fish Hatchery.  There will be 21 different programs offering a variety of outdoor educational activities and presentations.  Several different agencies are participating this year, including the Audubon Society, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Boys and Girls Scouts of America, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation, among others. 

Volunteers will be heading to Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to clear invasive ivy in the garden for Earth Day.  The rangers also are coordinating with local artists to paint benches at the Montlake Cut park area with interpretive designs of fish, and rangers are coordinating with local schools to conduct environmental discussions in classes.

Portland District personnel will be focusing on two recreation areas this year – Dalles Lock and Dam in Seufert Park, Ore., and Bonneville Lock and Dam.

From 9 a.m. to noon on April 27, park rangers will host the Annual Earth Day event at The Dalles Visitor Center and Seufert Park, concentrating this year on cleaning up the historic Seufert Rose Garden.  This unique turn-of-the-century garden is home to a variety of antique roses.  Volunteers are needed to help weed, prune and spruce up the garden area.

Bonneville Lock and Dam ranger staff will host 36 Dallesport Elementary School 5th- and 6th-grade students from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 24 to gain a better understanding of environmental stewardship by removing invasive plants and planting native vegetation and, if time allows, conducting a shoreline litter pickup.  Bonneville rangers will present an interpretive program incorporating Corps missions, such as water safety and environmental stewardship. This Earth Day event is estimated to provide Bonneville Lock and Dam with 90 hours of volunteer service valued at approximately $2,000.

In Kansas City District, Army Corps of Engineers personnel will focus on tree planting at two of the district’s lakes – Clinton Lake in Lawrence, Kan., and Hillsdale Lake, also in Kansas.  Dates are still being determined.


Mississippi Valley Division
Staff at the Mississippi Valley Division Headquarters in Vicksburg, Miss., is trying to promote a greener lifestyle for fellow employees by asking them to write down on a sticky note how they can make their life and world a little greener and attach that to an Earth Day poster.  The best ideas will be published in the headquarter’s e-magazine so others may adopt those ideas as well.

At St. Paul District, plans are underway to do tree planting on islands the district just finished building above Lock and Dam 8 in the Upper Mississippi River as part of the Upper Mississippi River Environmental Management Program.

Preschoolers will learn about recycling and planting trees as St. Paul District rangers host them at the Gull Lake Dam and Recreation Site, located near Brainerd, Minn., later this month.

Rock Island District personnel are keeping busy with a number of different activities.  The Grant River Recreation Area will be the site of an Earth Day/Park cleanup, sponsored by the Dubuque Ranger Office, on April 26.

Thomson Park Rangers will be working with members of Boy Scout Troop 1176 on April 12 to conduct a campground cleanup and trail work.

Staff from the Mississippi River Visitor Center at Lock and Dam #15 will be participating in the Earth Fair at the QC Expo Center on April 24 and 25.

Local Boy Scouts are going to assist Quincy Park rangers in hanging wood duck boxes this year.

And, on April 28, ranger from the Illinois Waterway will have a booth at the Peoria Clean Water Celebration, which is expected to attract between 500 and 750 students.


U.S Army Engineering, Research and Development Center
Alcorn State University is sponsoring its annual Earth Day observance on April 23 with an Experts Symposium on the Environment and personnel from the ERDC Environmental Lab will participate.  This year’s theme is one adopted by the Earth Day Network – “Green Cities”.


The Green Campus Initiative is taking root at ERDC’s Construction Engineering Research Lab in Champaign, Ill., April 21 to 24 as part of “Earth Week” activities.  A brown bag lunch with a film on April 22 kick off the week’s activities that include Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Day on April 22 by focusing on biking to work or ride sharing; Reduce Your Waste Day on April 23 that includes learning what can and can’t be recycled at the center, learning about composting and discovering what “green” purchases offices can make; and on April 24, the focus is on Reducing CERL’s Energy Consumption with an Energy Fair.  Throughout the week, there will be information on “Drop, Swap and Go,” an initiative that encourages employees to see what “green” supplies are available and also encourages them to make sure that before donating excess items, they let others in the center know about the excess supplies in case another office might be able to use them.


South Atlantic Division


Savannah District is working in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rehabilitate an unused dredged material containment area within the city and turn it into a new refuge for wildlife, which will be available for public viewing.


Great Lakes and Ohio River Division 

On April 22, Vanessa Villarreal of the Chicago District Public Affairs Office will do a presentation to about 60 5th-  and 6th-graders at Otis Elementary School in Chicago, the district’s partner school.  Villarreal will help the students plant sunflowers while talking about why plants are important and why life on Earth depends on plants.  In addition to showing a video about plants, she will remind the students of three ways to eliminate waste and protect the environment – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.


Nashville District employees will participate in the Nashville Earth Day Festival on April 19.  The district exhibit will focus on environmental restoration and water safety.


Louisville District’s Environmental Branch is recognizing Earth Day by hosting a contest searching for the district’s best essayists and artists/designers in two categories – essay and plastic bag reuse.  Creativity will be the key!


At Nolin River Lake, Bee Spring, Ky., the rangers will sponsor the Wildflower Walk  on April 19 at the state Park. 


Monroe Lake, Bloomington, Ind., is the site of several Earth Day activities.  The lake employees are partnering with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for a Wildflower ID Workshop on April 13.  IDNR naturalist Jill Vance, along with Monroe Lake ranger Sara Mundy, will direct two programs at the lake’s multipurpose room and in the Tailwater trail area.


On April 23, an IDNR naturalist will do a presentation on Herptile Emergence (reptile and amphibians) at the Monroe Paynetown State Recreation Area Nature Center and a lakeshore walk.


Three hikes will occur at Monroe Lake on April 25 through 27 as part of the 24th Annual Brown County Wildflower Foray.  The annual foray includes 30 guided hikes at various parks and recreation areas within Brown County.


And finally, people can fish for free without a state fishing license anywhere on public waters, including all eight Louisville District lakes in Indiana, on Free Fishing Day, April 19.

North Atlantic Division


An environmental video will be available for North Atlantic Division Headquarters employees to view as part of the division headquarter’s Earth Day activities.


Philadelphia District employees will participate in Temple University’s EarthFest on April 25.  The annual festival typically attracts 10,000 visitors, many of whom are school students, and features exhibitors with an environmental or science-related mission.


New York District will participate in “Environmental Day” the last week of April as part of Earth Day and Arbor Day activities in Elizabeth, N.J.  The event, also staffed by the Coast Guard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Kean University and Baykeeper, is designed to educate students from Elizabeth and Staten Island schools about the physical condition of the New York and New Jersey Harbor, the affects of pollution, and long-term commitment and efforts of sustaining the Earth while focusing on the significance of a healthy New York and New Jersey Harbor Estuary.

New England District employees are involved in three activities this year.  In Buzzards Bay, Mass., it’s time once again for the 14th annual Cape Cod Canal Clean Up Saturday, set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 19.  The event kicks off at Buzzards Bay Recreation with projects that span the entire 7.5 miles of North Service Road.  More than 175 volunteers are expected to participate in this year’s event that also offers activities such as homemade planters, a trash collection contest and a recycle circus.

Litter and debris cleanup are the focus of the other two New England District events, both in Thomaston, Conn.  Local Boy Scouts are signed up to help pick up litter at Northfield Brook Lake and a local radio-control group, Nutmeg Flyers, will police the model airplane field at the Thomaston Dam.

Europe District’s Environmental Team is sending speakers to six classes at Wiesbaden Middle School to discuss environmental issues that tie in with the current class curriculum.  It is expected that some classes will learn about military natural resources protection, environmental cleanup and the history of Earth Day.