Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Public Works took home two Army-level awards for the post’s environmental and cultural resource management programs.
The awards cover 2018 and 2019, and the winners were announced at the end of February.
“We feel fantastic,” said Charlie Neel, DPW Environmental Division chief. “The awards signify that for the last two years Fort Leonard Wood had the best environmental and cultural resources programs in the Army. Those are two very competitive areas and to be selected is a great honor.”
Alex Beehler, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, identified five installations and three teams as winners in the Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards Program, the highest honor conferred by the Army in the field of environment and sustainability.
“Responsible stewardship of environmental resources is not only essential to Army training and readiness, but also imperative to the overall effectiveness of our military,” Beehler said.
Fort Leonard Wood won in the Environmental Quality — Non-Industrial Installation and Cultural Resources Management — Large Installation categories.
The highlights of Fort Leonard Wood’s environmental program include exceeding Defense Department solid waste diversion goals for municipal solid waste and construction and demolition wastes eight years in a row.
“They are very difficult targets to hit,” said Craig French, Environmental Compliance Branch chief. “Our program has been extremely forward looking.”
The recycling program earned $1.98 million in revenue and helped avoid landfill costs of more than $3 million over the past two years.
“It’s just an outstanding program,” French said. “We’ve been able to pick up new streams of recyclables, due to the work of the folks in the program, and the money that comes in from the recycling comes back to the post.”
The post implemented a recycling competition, with unit winners awarded $1,000 a quarter.
“The program has evolved tremendously,” French added. “There’s been a lot of innovative ideas to move recycling forward.”
In addition, the post was praised for its outreach programs and activities including the Earth Day Fair, Kid’s Trout Fishing Derby, newcomers’ briefs and staff assistance visits to tenant units.
“Any time there’s an event we try to get over there and provide information to the public and interact and promote,” Neel said. “It’s something we’ve had a lot of success at.”
“It’s something that we work at nonstop,” French added. “The transient nature of Fort Leonard Wood’s population makes it a constant challenge for us to educate and promote how we do things, because just about the time people start figuring out how it all works, they rotate out and we’ve got a whole new group of people to train.”
The post’s cultural resource management program was crucial to the 2019 rehabilitation of the World War II-era Black Officers’ Club. They also completed archaeological surveys of 1,300 acres of installation lands and 330 acres leased from Missouri, and hosted and participated in three tribal meetings.
“We have tremendous cultural heritage sites, from prehistoric and historic — about 750 of them in total,” said Kenton Lohraff, Natural Resources Branch chief. “It’s our job to be good stewards, and we’re very proud to protect them.”
Neel stressed that the two awards represent not only the efforts of DPW, but Fort Leonard Wood as a whole.
“We can’t get to be the best of the best without having the best people — leadership and community — everybody playing a role in helping us do what we do,” he said. “We have a great team of teams here and that’s what it takes to have great programs in both those areas.”
The eight winners will represent the Army in the 2020 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards Program, which announces its winners around Earth Day, April 22.