USACE turns its focus to Earth Day activities

HQ USACE Public Affairs
Published April 7, 2015
Gerald Rogers, public affairs specialist with the Norfolk District, talks about the Corps environmental mission with an attendee at the Virginia Environmental Symposium, April 1.

Gerald Rogers, public affairs specialist with the Norfolk District, talks about the Corps environmental mission with an attendee at the Virginia Environmental Symposium, April 1.

Forty-five years ago a Wisconsin senator wanted the country to pause on April 22 for a “national teach-in on the environment,” and think about taking care of the planet on which we live.  Thanks to Sen. Gaylord Nelson’s efforts, Earth Day was born.

Taking care of the Earth is an everyday mission for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the agency does find ways each spring to increase its emphasis on sustainability and environmental stewardship just a bit.

This year is no different.  From our district in Germany to Hawaii, from New England to southern California and many districts and divisions in between, the Corps of Engineers is observing Earth Day in a number of ways.

North Atlantic Division

North Atlantic Division – The division headquarters will feature an Earth Day presentation on its website and lobby video monitors as well as an Earth Day message from the commander.

Europe District – Europe District personnel will be participating in several Earth Day related events at Wiesbaden Middle School.  On April 2, more than 170 seventh-graders participated in a visit to the golf course at Rheinblick, and on Earth Day itself, April 22, students will help plant more than 200 plants.  Also, a groundbreaking day/awards celebration is being planned for the week of Earth Day or the week of May 4 to mark the planting of a garden that district employee George Bock has been designing at the school as part of a campaign to help the school become a “Green Ribbon” school.

New England District – It’s time for the 15th Annual Canal Cleanup, set for April 25, at the Buzzards Bay Recreation Area in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts.  The annual community service day includes group service projects, a litter pickup, activity booths, live music and contest.  It is co-sponsored by AmeriCorps Cape Cod and the Corps of Engineers New England District.

Philadelphia District – Earthfest is coming to the Ambler, Pennsylvania, campus of Temple University on April 24.  Last year, Philadelphia District employees educated children about a fish ladder in Philadelphia and played a game that showed how the ladders helps shad get upstream to reproduce.  This year, district employees will feature Blue Marsh Lake and Dam and talk about water safety as well as outdoor recreation opportunities.

Baltimore and Norfolk Districts – The two districts participated in the Virginia Environment Symposium, conducted March 31-April 2, at the Virginia Military Institute’s Center for Leadership and Ethics.  The event drew more than 600 people within the environmental field and features 35 breakout sessions, including presentations from Norfolk District experts on the Atlantic Sturgeon Project and oyster restoration.

Great Lakes and Ohio River Division

Detroit District – The district is hosting an Earth Day event at its Duluth, Minnesota, Area Office on April 18 for the third consecutive year.  There will be activity booths in the observatory and programs in the lecture hall.

Louisville District – The district’s Environmental Branch wants to find the district’s most creative minds through its Earth Day Contest.  Between now and April 22, employees can participate in two separate categories – workstation decorations and best essay.  For the workstation contest, employees should use natural or recycled materials and the winner will be the employee whose desk, cubicle or office reflects the best visual presentation of respect or reverence of the natural world.  Don’t try to use commercial logos or emblems, it will cost you!  In the easy category, the winner will write an essay that supports an existing group’s work to improve the natural world through respect or reverence of that world from a practical application.  Winners will receive Commander’s Coins.

Nashville District – It’s time for the annual Nashville Earth Day Festival on April 18 at Centennial Park.  The festival, sponsored by the City of Nashville, will focus on the theme of “It’s Our Turn to Lead.”  Nashville District employees will sponsor and staff a booth at the festival.  Also, on April 25, the district will sponsor the annual lake cleanup day at Lake Cumberland, Kentucky. 

Pittsburgh District – Pittsburgh District lakes and recreation areas are celebrating Earth Day with a number of activities.  On April 18, Mahoning Creek Lake, New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, will host an Earth Day event.  Also on April 18, East Branch Clarion River Lake in Wilcox, Pennsylvania, will be hosting an Earth Day event.  The next day, April 19, personnel from Loyalhanna Lake, Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, will participate in Earth Day at Westmoreland.

Two Earth Day events are set for April 22, one at Youghiogheny River Lake in Confluence, Pennsylvania, and one at Crooked Creek Lake in Ford City, Pennsylvania.  The next day, April 23, district employees from Tionesta Lake in Tionesta, Pennsylvania, will participate in an Earth Day event.  On Saturday, April 25, Shenango River Lake in Hermitage, Pennsylvania, Mosquito Creek Lake, Cortland, Ohio, and Loyalhanna Lake will sponsor Earth Day events.

Berlin Lake, Berlin Center, Ohio, will wrap up Earth Day-related events at the district’s recreation areas with a special Earth Day event on May 2.

Mississippi Valley Division

St. Paul District --  The district’s Gull Lake Dam and Recreation Site in Brainerd, Minnesota, will host a spring cleanup and tree planting day April 24-25 with more than 40 volunteers already signed up to participate.

Rock Island District – The district’s Mississippi River Project Office has scheduled a special Earth Day/Park Clean Up for April 18 at the Grant River Recreation Area, just south of Potosi, Wisconsin.  Volunteers will assist in cleaning up the park and performing several small maintenance projects.  Also, Lake Red Rock will host a Central College Service Day on April 21 with students from Central College picking up litter around the lake area.

Vicksburg District – On April 6, the Vicksburg District regulator team rehabbed the Rainey Lake Trail at Tensas National Wildlife Refuge, just west of Tallulah, Louisiana, to make the popular hiking trail more accessible by removing debris and dead snags.  The district team also prepared the Rainey Brake Observatory for visitors.    

Southwestern Division

Fort Worth District – District personnel are participating in four Earth Day-related events this year.  On April 15, personnel will man a booth at the Oak Cliff Erath Day celebration in Dallas, emphasizing the Corps of Engineers’ roles with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Net Zero sustainability efforts at military installations, environmental stewardship and water safety.

Volunteers from the district’s Regional Planning Environmental Center will emphasize STEM opportunities while working with first- through eighth-graders from the Fort Worth Independent School District on projects focused on erosion and weathering on April 22.  Also, on that day, the Corps of Engineers will have a booth at the Fort Worth Museum of Science History’s “All Systems Earth” event.

And from April 24 through 26, the district will sponsor a booth at Earth Day Texas at Fair Park in Dallas emphasizing the Corps of Engineers’ roles with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Net Zero sustainability efforts at military installations, environmental stewardship and water safety.

Northwestern Division

Seattle District -- District personnel are engaged in Earth Day events, starting with a “kitchenette composting contest.”  Through the month of April, the Seattle District Green Team is sponsoring the composting contest within the district headquarters building with the winning kitchen being announced on Earth Day.  The contest positively reinforces the city of Seattle’s municipal composting law, which the building occupants became subject to in July.

On the Saturday before Earth Day, April 18, at the Lake Washington Ship Canal, check out “Earth Day Rocks, Volunteer at the Locks,” sponsored by the natural Resources staff at the Locks and the 2014-2015 Leadership Development Team.

A number of Earth Day-related activities are set for Libby Dam.  On April 11, the staff will present water safety information at the community health fair, followed by a STEM-day event for all local eighth-graders with a focus on different types of STEM careers with the Corps of Engineers and a tour from engineers set for April 16.  The local Conservation District is presenting a workshop how to control noxious weeds at the Libby Dam visitor center on April 18, and of April 25, visitors can participate in the annual Kooky-noosa Challenge, a disc golf tournament, set for the Libby Dam Disc Golf course.

Finally, on April 30, the staff at Chief Joseph Dam will host about 500 students from four local schools for an Earth Day program.  More than 20 different programs will be available, offering a verity of outdoor educational activities, including a tour of the hatchery.  Several different agencies are participating this year, including the Audubon Society, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the national park Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation, among others.

South Pacific Division

South Pacific Division -- The SPD team will feature quotes on the theme “Now that we are celebrating 45 years of Earth Day, what does Earth Day mean to you?” on its SPD News Network elevator TV and on the SPD web and social media from April 13 to 24.

Los Angeles District – The district will be joining with the Friends of the LA River Cleanup at various sites, including Corps of Engineers’ managed sites, April 11, 18 and 25.  Also , the district will participate in the Fort Irwin Earth Day event April 18 at Spring Fest.

Pacific Ocean Division

Honolulu District – It’s time for Earth Day on Waikiki.  Once again this year, Honolulu District will sponsor Earth Day activities at the Pacific Regional Visitor Center at Fort DeRussy on Waikiki Beach, the morning of April 11.  Water, trash bags, glove and litter grabbers will be provided to volunteers who should provide their own sun protection/sunscreen and hats, and be prepared to “get dirty” as part of the beach berm cleanup.

Labs and Centers

U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville – Employees at the Huntsville Center will join Team Redstone for its annual Earth Day Event, set for April 25, at6 Redstone Arsenal.  More than 450 students from local school system are expected to attend.  The center’s staff will put the students through a mock environmental cleanup exercise to demonstrate how USACE is helping to preserve the Earth through our programs and projects.  Sergeant Woof will make an appearance to explain the 3Rs of munitions safety:  Recognize, Retreat and Report.


The environmental team at Headquarters USACE will participate in the National Sustainable Design Expo, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, April 11 and 12, at Oronoco Bay Park, Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.

The team also will participate in Earth Day activities at its headquarters, 441 G Street NW, Washington, District of Columbia, with other tenants of the Government Accountability Office, on April 22, and finish off its Earth Day activities by joining with the Army Environmental Command at an Earth Day Street Fair April 23 at the Pentagon, highlighting the Army’s environmental and sustainability programs.