Airmen, EPA combine conservation efforts for Earth Day

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
 In commemoration of Earth Day, more than 150 volunteers participated in a coastal cleanup April 21 on Tarague Beach here.

Earth Day is an international event that demonstrates the commitment and significant investment the United States and other countries have made toward environmental security.

Members of the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron environmental flight hosted the Tarague Beach cleanup for Airmen and their families, successfully collecting seven truck-loads of trash most of which were recyclable plastic materials.

"The Earth Day event was a huge success, and Guam National Wildlife Refuge and USDA Wildlife Services did a great job assisting us in facilitating the event," said Leanne Obra, a 36th CES environmental flight natural resource specialist. "We had an awesome turn out, and we can't thank all the volunteers enough for their hard work and coming out on a Sunday morning to participate."

Along with collecting trash, volunteers tracked the amounts and brands of the waste they collected, which was sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regions 9 for their study on sources of rubbish in oceans. Volunteers filled out 21 data sheets to be analyzed by the agency.

Obra said data collected from Earth Day was specifically geared toward management of the Pacific Garbage Patch, debris that accumulated in the Pacific Ocean due to the circular motion of ocean currents. Estimates of the garbage patch's size are equal to twice the size of the continental United States.

This year, along with the beach cleanup, the environmental flight members displayed natural, cultural and historical exhibits, offered educational games and gave out prizes to promote environmental awareness.

"A biologist from the Guam National Wild Life Refuge educated our volunteers on the green sea turtles and their nesting practices, so people could identify and avoid disturbing nesting sites," Obra said. "We have the best turtle nesting statistic on the island, and we want to make sure the turtles are safe when they go on Tarague's shores to lay their eggs."

Though Tarague Beach is part of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the top of Sanders Slope to the Tarague basin is an established natural preservation and is still within the controls of off-base environmental agencies. The environmental flight works in partnership with the local authorities and members of Andersen AFB to protect the fragile ecology of the area.

"To be able to come here with your family, to relax on your days off, to come down here with your unit for physical training and do a lot of different things is a benefit," said Maj. Dionte Moncrief, the 36th Medical Operations Squadron dentist and cleanup volunteer. "We have to keep the beach and the entire island unspoiled for not only people, but for animal life to come in and do things they usually do without inference."

Along with an array of environmental programs developed by the Air Force to demonstrate commitment in improving the environment, Airmen and families from Andersen AFB and all over the world continue to take traditional approaches to stewardship by volunteering their free time to maintain the beauty of Mother Nature.

"We only have one earth," Moncrief said. "It's definitely important my family understands that we have to do our part to keep the island clean. We're only here for a certain amount of time, and it is important that we keep the area clean for future Airmen and generations. It gives them the chance to experience what we have right now."