Oahu Army Natural Resources Team
Kim Welch (red shirt), environmental outreach specialist, Oahu Army NRT, USAG-HI, leads volunteers on a tour of the upper elevation rare plant nursery in the Waianae mountains. (Courtesy of Roy Kikuta)

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Spirit, hard work and scaling mountains paid off as U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Natural Resources Team garnered one of the Army's most prestigious awards, Jan. 27.

The Army publicly announced USAG-HI as the winner of the Secretary of the Army's 2011 "Natural Resources Conservation Team Award" for the accomplishments of its Oahu Natural Resources Program/Team, or NRT, in a release on Army.mil.

This award is part of the annual Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards Program, which recognizes and rewards excellence for the development, management and transferability of environmental programs that increase environmental quality, enhance the mission and help make the Army sustainable.

"Recognition by the secretary of the Army as having one of the finest natural resource programs in the Army is a public testament to the commitment, professionalism and dedication of the Natural Resource staff of USAG-HI," said Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, USAG-HI. "Their work allows the Army to continue to train here and prepare for any contingency our nation requires of its Soldiers.

"This program, over many years, has not only stabilized threatened and endangered species here on Oahu, but it serves as the model across the Army and federal government on how to collaborate with state, federal and private organizations to manage fragile populations," Mulbury added.

The Oahu NRT is responsible for balancing the military mission with managing more than 60 federally listed species on more than 50,000 acres of land, with an annual budget of approximately $6 million.

The team supports six Army training ranges on Oahu through strict management of natural resources, enabling approximately 20,000 service members from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, National Guard and Reserves, as well as local law enforcement, to successfully conduct missions critical to training.

Fifty-one native plants, seven kahuli tree snails, the Oahu elepaio bird, the Hawaiian hoary bat, two picture wing flies, and one damsel fly keep the Oahu NRT's tight-knit staff on the go, perfecting management techniques as needed, in order to ensure the survival of these unique Oahu species.

What began as a small staff of four in 1995 has now grown to more than 50 personnel, comprised of support staff, a fence crew, three resource management crews, and a nursery/seedbank management crew.

Ninety percent of the staff is in the field daily, working with rare species in remote areas of the island across the Waianae and Koolau mountain ranges.

Major 2010 and 2011 team accomplishments include the collection of 5,800 endangered plants for genetic storage, the outplanting and reintroduction of 8,500 endangered plants to their native habitat and the fencing of more than 1,200 acres of endangered species habitat to stop the destruction of wild goats and pigs.

"This award is a testament to the top notch effort and professionalism of the members of this team," said Michelle Mansker, NRT chief,

Environmental Division, Directorate of Public Works, USAG-HI. "It is their collective effort that makes this team the best in the Army."

As a winner of this Secretary of the Army Environmental Award, the Oahu NRT will go on to represent the Army and compete in the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards competition this spring, which recognizes individuals, teams and installations for their outstanding achievements to conserve and sustain the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the Department of Defense.

Page last updated Fri February 3rd, 2012 at 13:57