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20th CES wins conservation award

Members of the prescribe burn team light fires on the forest floor during prescribed burning Jan. 28, 2015, at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, in Sumter, S.C. The team was scheduled to burn throughout the week while the weather permitted. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Diana M. Cossaboom)

Members of the prescribe burn team light fires on the forest floor during prescribed burning Jan. 28, 2015, at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, in Sumter, S.C. The team was scheduled to burn throughout the week while the weather permitted. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Diana M. Cossaboom)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) -- The 20th Civil Engineer Squadron installation management flight at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was awarded the General Thomas D. White Natural Resources Conservation Award in the large base installation category.

The Air Force-level award recognizes the team’s dedication and excellence in the conservation of natural resources.

"It's a great honor to win this prestigious award and receive recognition by the Air Force," said Nicholas Muszynski, the 20th CES chief of environmental programs. "This award underscores the important work done by our professional and dedicated natural resources staff."

The Natural Resources Conservation Award is given out every other year and encompasses a two year time period. The purpose of the award is to promote excellence in every aspect of the Air Force environmental programs.

One of the main focuses of the 20th CES’s natural resources team is the conservation of the Red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species. The team helped increase the Red-cockaded woodpecker population on Poinsett Electronic Combat Range by 800 percent.

"(The award) highlights the importance of our efforts to protect and enhance the environment; but most importantly, how we support the mission of Shaw AFB," Muszynski said. "I am extremely proud of our natural resource staff in their achievement and accomplishments."

Shaw's natural resources team was the first to create a Regional Wildland Fire Team in the Air Force which has been used to provide prescribed burns throughout Poinsett. The prescribed burns reduced wildfires on the range by 95 percent minimizing negative impacts on Shaw's flying mission while enhancing the timber and wildlife habitat.

Prescribed burning and the conservation of the Red-cockaded woodpecker are just some programs the natural resources team has.

The team received the natural resources award twice, in 1995 and again in 2006, and was also awarded the Natural Resources Team Award in 2001.

"We put forth a team effort with a lot of passion and we believe in what we do, and we work hard to make it better," said Ronald June, the 20th CES chief of natural and cultural resources.

The award is named after General White, the fourth chief of staff of the Air Force, who provided leadership in the establishment of Air Force environmental programs.

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