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Eglin's environmental team named best In DOD

Volunteers position a 500 feet stretch of oil boom to be installed in Weekly Bayou on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in a recent waterways oil spill exercise. Boom is an oil containment device used to trap oil in the water so it can be collected before reaching the shore. A collection of emergency responders from more than 15 Eglin units will deploy to Weekly Bayou, Dec. 13, to participate in an oil spill response exercise. The annual exercise is required by federal and state regulations governing Inland Coastal Oil Spill Response for the Eglin AFB Marine Fuel Transfer Facility.  This year’s exercise will take place in the Weekly Bayou from 7:30 a.m. until noon.  The Post'l Point Boat Launch Ramp will be closed to the public during these hours, however the Eglin Yacht Club boat launch ramp will be open to boaters during this time due to emergency response vehicles operating in that area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Volunteers position a 500-foot stretch of oil boom to be installed in Weekly Bayou on Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in a recent waterways oil spill exercise. Boom is an oil containment device used to trap oil in the water so it can be collected before reaching the shore. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

A gopher tortoise settles into its new burrow deep within the Eglin Air Force Base range Oct. 26.  The first of approximately 250 tortoises were released into their 100-acre habitat after being rescued from urban development at their previous home in South Florida.  Increasing the gopher tortoise population here could prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the animal on the Threatened and Endangered Species list, allowing more flexibility for the military missions on Eglin. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

A gopher tortoise settles into its new burrow deep within the Eglin Air Force Base range in Florida Oct. 26, 2016. The first of about 250 tortoises were released into their 100-acre habitat after being rescued from urban development at their previous home in South Florida. Increasing the gopher tortoise population here could prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the animal on the Threatened and Endangered Species list, allowing more flexibility for the military missions on Eglin AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- The Defense Department announced April 21, Eglin Air Force Base was named winner of the 2017 Secretary of Defense Environmental Award for Sustainability.

The award is given to the installation that best extends the longevity of its resources by preventing, or eliminating pollution at the source and practicing efficiency and sustainability in the use of raw materials, energy, waste or other resources. Sustainable practices ensure the protection of valuable resources that are critical to mission success.

This is the sixth DOD environmental award Eglin AFB has won in the last seven years.

"Being recognized six times out of the last seven years as the best in the Department of Defense reflects the truly exceptional team we have guiding Eglin's environmental stewardship. I couldn't be more proud of them, for their service and for demonstrating the complementary nature of our military mission and environmental conservation," said Brig. Gen. Christopher Azzano, the 96th Test Wing commander.

"This team is truly a global leader in environmental and energy management," he said.

Eglin’s environmental team displayed environmental leadership by recycling or reusing municipal solid waste, pursuing alternative energy sources, enhancing the prescribed burn program, and achieving designation as a clean and resilient installation.

The Eglin Environmental division consists of more than 80 biologists, scientists, foresters, fire management specialists and engineers. They are responsible for managing a remarkable assemblage of biodiversity of distinct natural community types, the largest forested military reservation, and over 120,000 square miles of water ranges while enabling essential DOD missions.

Credit for the accomplishment goes well beyond the team at the 96th Civil Engineer Group, according to Maria Rodriguez, the 96th CEG environmental management chief.

“It's definitely a reflection of the base leadership’s commitment to being good stewards of the environment. Understanding that the military missions here can thrive because our stewardship, not in spite of it, is key to having total buy-in to our management practices," she said.

Some of the accomplishments contributing to Eglin’s award-winning effort include;

- Eglin recycles or reuses approximately 77 percent of the municipal solid waste it creates, exceeding the DOD goal by 27 percent, saving the base $3.5 million in waste disposal costs.

- They furthered the national goal of pursuing alternative energy sources by facilitating and breaking ground for a 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic array project on 245 acres of Eglin property, raising Eglin’s percentage of renewable energy sources to 19 percent.

- The team identified an increase in the number of reportable spills resulting from poor marina operations and worked with base personnel to adopt Florida Department of Environmental Protection practices and procedures to certify Eglin as one of only 10 other marinas in Florida to receive the Clean and Resilient designation. Since implementation, marina oil spills have been reduced to near zero.

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